What’s The Difference Between a PRO and a Publishing Administrator?

One of the most common misunderstandings in the music business is the notion that being affiliated with a performing rights organization (PRO) such as BMI or ASCAP means you don’t need a publishing administrator.

That couldn’t be further from the truth; the reality is that these are separate entities performing different tasks with a mutual goal of making sure songwriters are paid. Both play an integral role in the career of a songwriter.

Before we go any further, we should address that a PRO such as ASCAP and BMI is a collection society. Collection societies are broken up into three categories:

  • Performing Rights Organization (PRO)

  • Collective Management Organization (CMO)

  • Mechanical Rights Organization (MRO)

It is important to note that publishing income is varied with multiple royalty streams and that a PRO operates in the business of collecting performance royalties exclusively. An MRO collects mechanical royalties and a CMO collects both performance and mechanical royalties.

Collection societies perform a very important function, so much so that each territory around the world has its own. Some territories, such as France and Germany have one CMO (SACEM and GEMA respectively). Others, like the UK, have one PRO and one MRO ( PRS and MCPS respectively). Sweden has STIM, Norway has TONO, Ireland has IMRO for a full list of societies click here. The US is unlike most territories in that it has multiple PROs and multiple MROs. The PROs are ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GMR and AllTrack and the MROs are MLC, HFA and MRI. There are literally hundreds of organizations responsible for collecting your royalties!

A publishing administrator also works in tandem with your local society to maximize performance royalties globally, as well as collecting all the additional revenue sources such as mechanical royalties.

TuneCore Publishing is a member of all of these societies worldwide. We take your songs and register these copyrights directly with all the significant PROs, CMOs and MROs around the world to make sure the money derived from the use of your songs makes its way to your pocket as soon as possible.

Let’s say you’re locally affiliated with BMI and have a song with radio airplay in 15 territories worldwide: if you didn’t use TuneCore’s publishing service, then you’d to wait for 15 different societies to collect your performance royalties, find out who you are and who your local PRO is and then pass that income to BMI. Both the overseas PROs and BMI will take a cut of those royalties.

For example: if you get your music on Spotify, what if the same song has one million streams across 30 different territories?

That publishing income comes through in the form of micropayments from multiple countries with different rules, regulations and payment schedules. Waiting for that money to find its way to you is a lengthy and cumbersome process full of nooks and crannies, wherein those royalties can easily go missing.

In fact, without a publishing administrator it can take anywhere from 18 months to multiple years, depending on the territory, for these royalties to find their way to you if at all! Furthermore, without a publishing administrator, US writers specifically are missing out on upto 51% of their publishing income as, without publishing administration, you cannot collect US mechanical royalties.     

A publishing administrator like TuneCore Publishing will register and track songs and collect income for those songs direct at source from hundreds of societies around the world. This ensures the money derived from the use of your songs makes its way to your pocket as soon as possible. Make sure you collect what’s yours!