Well, maybe not the sound check, but the live performance counts — at least with BMI. The Performance Rights Organization (PRO) BMI recently established BMI Live, an online program that lets songwriters upload setlists from their performances at live music venues — and receive payment for the songs that are played.
BMI has always paid royalties based on live performances, but only conducted a census survey on the songs played on the top 200 tours.
With BMI Live, the PRO aims to provide its registered songwriters and composers with financial revenue from performance venues as small as your local music venue, or as large as Madison Square Garden.
Payment will be issued to both the songwriter/composer and publisher, though the songwriter has agency over what set lists he or she chooses to upload. Through direct deposit, an artist will receive compensation within the relevant quarter. Deposits will be marked separately as “BMI Live,” but will also credit the specific songs played.
Just how much will songwriters and publishers receive? BMI’s website says: “Rates per performance each quarter are determined by a combination of the number of performances reported during the payment period and the general licensing fees available for distribution for BMI Live performances. Since the number of BMI-licensed works, as well as the amount of the license fees collected by BMI, changes from quarter to quarter, the royalty rate for BMI Live works likewise will vary from quarter to quarter.”
Only applicable to BMI artists, this portal for live shows allow songwriters to enter setlists from shows dating back six months — that’s back to July 2010 on the current calendar. Bottom line? If you’re a BMI member, playing that gig might be more lucrative than just a percentage of the door. Just don’t forget to tip your bartender.