Difference between BMI, ASCAP and SESAC

Key Difference: There are three main performing rights organizations (PROs) operating in the United States of America: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC).

If an artist is serious about pursuing a music industry, he is advised to join a performing rights organization (PRO). A PRO is an agency that provides intermediary functions to the artist. These functions primarily consist of collecting royalties on behalf of the artists from retail stores, TV networks, video game companies, film companies, restaurant chains and any other franchise that uses music. A PRO includes artists, composers, producers, publishers etc.

There are three main PROs operating in the United States of America: BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is the oldest PRO in the US and was founded on February 13, 1914. Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) is the second PRO that followed ASCAP being started in 1930 and is currently the smallest of the three, as it selective of its members. Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) is the youngest of the three, started in 1939. The latest PRO is SoundExchange, which was started in 2003.

All these PROs work in the United States only. This means that they represent writers and publishers that are based in the United States, and they collect royalties for the performances that only occur in the United States.

Both BMI and ASCAP are not-for-profit businesses, which means that they are not driven to make a profit. SESAC, on the other hand, is a private company, which means that it is driven by the profit model. However, all three charge a fee for their services, which is deducted from the royalties before they are passed onto the artists and publishers.

ASCAP has over 430,000 members and is run by its own members. It is in fact the only PRO in the US that is run by its members. ASCAP has a one time fee of $35.00 for registration. Also ASCAP regularly conducts Workshops & Conventions for its members and industry officials.

BMI has over 500,000 members and is run by Radio and television broadcasters. It is free for writers to sign up as a member, however, there is a $150.00 fee for publishers. BMI also conducts conventions for its members and industry officials.

SESAC has about 30,000 affiliated songwriters, composers and music publishers. It is very selective about the members it takes on and all members must be approved by the PRO. However, once an artist is selected, there are no fees or dues that they have to pay in order to join.

Comparison between BMI, ASCAP and SESAC:





Full Form

Broadcast Music, Inc.

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

Society of European Stage Authors and Composers










New York City, United States

New York City, United States

Nashville, Tennessee, United States


Open Membership

Open Membership

One must be approved for membership

Pay Schedule

Pays royalties quarterly

Pays royalties quarterly

Pays royalties quarterly.

It offers monthly radio royalty payments.


Free for songwriters, $250 as a publisher

One-time fee of $50 as a writer (free when you sign up through Songtrust) and $50 as a publisher.

None (invitation only to join).

Issues licenses to

Television and radio stations; broadcast and cable networks; new media, including the Internet and mobile technologies; satellite audio services like XM and Sirius; nightclubs, hotels, bars, restaurants and other venues; digital jukeboxes; and live concerts.

Colleges & Universities, Concert Presenters, Music Venues & Clubs, Convention & Trade Shows, Fitness Clubs, Hotels, Local Government Entities, Radio & Television Stations and Networks, Mobile Entertainment, Websites, Retail Stores and music users

Television, Radio, Satellite and Cable Operators, SESAC Licensees include restaurants, nightclubs, taverns, hotels, motels, resorts, health clubs, skating rinks, web sites, amusement parks, water parks, stadiums, auditoriums, arenas, convention centers, airlines, professional sport teams, country clubs, dance schools, colleges and universities, retail stores, shopping malls, museums, planetariums, theaters, concert promoters, cruise ships, festivals, and circuses.

Member Benefits

  • Discounted Registration for Billboard Latin Conference Offered to BMI Affiliates
  • LARAS Offers Membership Discount to BMI Affiliates
  • NXNE Offers Special Discount to BMI Affiliates
  • Video Games Live Offers Special Discount to BMI Affiliates for LA Show
  • Billboard Touring Conference and Awards Offers Discounted Registration to BMI Affiliates
  • ArtistShare for Songwriters
  • FanBridge
  • Musician’s Atlas
  • Muzlink
  • Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • The Production Marketplace


  • Discount on membership to the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • Membership in the U.S. Alliance Federal Credit Union
  • Discounts on health, dental, instrument and life insurance via its MusicPro program
  • Discount on ASCAP Web Tools, a set of internet-based marketing and sales tools developed by Nimbit, Inc. for ASCAP members
  • Discounts on music-related retail products and services
  • Hotel and rental car discounts


  • SESAC direct deposit
  • SESAC offers special discount at POPmarket
  • 10% off at Sprint
  • 10% off at Berkleemusic.com
  • 15% OFF of the first year of SONGTRUST
  • Discounted Nero Multimedia Suite 10
  • Discount Airport Parking
  • Discounted rate on CMA’s Sterling Individual membership
  • Free 3-month Musician’s Atlas online account
  • 20% discount on Legacy Learning Systems
  • Discount subscriptions for Billboard Publications
  • Special organizational rate at The Hollywood Reporter
  • 33% discount to American Songwriter Magazine
  • NSAI and Frost Specialty Insurance Copyright Infringement Policy
  • Discount at MusicPro Insurance
  • Discount at Avis Rental Cars
  • Additional Discounts at Brickhouse Direct, Ameriprise Financial, COPYCATS, Disc Makers CD Manufacturing, Song U, Get It Guru, MasterWriter, Music Connection

Publishing Companies

You do not need a publishing company to collect your publisher’s share of royalties at BMI.

In order to collect your publisher’s share of royalties as an ASCAP member, you need to have an ASCAP publishing company.

In order to collect your publisher’s share of royalties as a member, you need to have a publishing company.

Notable affiliates

Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Rhianna, Maroon 5, Sam Cooke, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton

Justin Timberlake, Vampire Weekend, Duke Ellington, Dave Matthews, George Gershwin, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Marc Anthony, Henry Mancini

Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Cassandra Wilson, Rush, MGMT, Lady Antebellum, Mumford and Sons (PRS), Charli XCX (PRS)

Image Courtesy: audiodallas.com, gmlv.co, broadjam.com

Most Searched in Food and Drink Top 10 Most Searched Differences
Most Searched in Computers and Internets Most Searched in Home and Garden
Alcatel One Touch Idol vs Nokia Lumia 620
Liquid vs Gas
Quality Assurance vs Quality Control
Sony Xperia P vs Nexus 4

Add new comment

Plain text

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.