Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Do BMI and ASCAP Co-Writers Register Songs?

dividing the songwriting pie
Dear Rich: I am part of a musical duo. We've made a CD (that has't been pressed yet), which features songs written by both me and my bandmate/duo-mate. I'm affiliated with ASCAP. I've got a publishing company also affiliated with ASCAP. My bandmate/duomate is affiliated with BMI, but rather than starting up a publishing company, he just claims 200% of songwriting credits in order to receive full royalties. Here's my question: How do we credit his songs? Should he claim 200% songwriting ownership under BMI, or should I claim them under my publishing company? Is there any benefit to have a particular album/CD/recording under one publishing company (mine)? According to a BMI rep, your partner registers the song as a writer (with BMI), and you register the song with ASCAP (as a writer/publisher). In other words, the same song can be registered at both societies (something we weren't aware of). Writer/publisher information should be cross-indexed on each registration -- that is, when filling out the ASCAP registration form, you would enter your partner's BMI affiliation under "Writer." And vice-versa when your partner completes the registration. If your goal is to split the revenue evenly, you should either:
  • have your partner create a BMI publisher. We're aware that's' pricey -- $150 -- but that will allow each person to receive an equal split of both publisher and writer revenue from their respective PRO, or 
  • make your ASCAP music publisher entity the band's publisher and give your partner half of the income you receive from your ASCAP publisher checks.
Crowdsourcing welcome ... We're interested in verifying this answer with our readers. Has anyone actually registered the same song at both PROs? You can also follow up with your respective PRO as follows: ASCAP Member Services (1-800-952-7227); BMI Member services (newyork@bmi.com (212-220-3000); Los Angeles losangeles@bmi.com (310-659-9109)).

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