What Are PRO Tracks and Cue Sheets?
A performance rights organization (PRO) collects royalties between copyright holders and parties who wish to use copyrighted works publicly in traditional broadcast (such as in film, television, and radio).
Performing rights organizations monitor their members' music when it is performed on the radio. On radio, television, and in film performances, PROs use what is known as a cue sheet to keep track of whose music is used in which broadcast or film.
Cue sheets are usually filled out by the producer or editor and submitted to each PRO who has a member represented on the cue sheet. Pond5 also requests a copy of the cue sheet for our records.
Most countries have their own PROs. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC represent the United States while GEMA works with German artists. SOCAN is Canadian, PRS is for the UK, and SACEM handles France. You can find a list of PROs here. Nearly all PROs have relationships with one another.
Purchasing a PRO Track
If a music track is registered with a PRO it’s listed in the Item Page preview information:
If you will be using a PRO-affiliated music track in a public broadcast (on television, film, radio), you will need to submit a cue sheet to the appropriate PRO to report the usage. The PRO will then collect royalties on the track, which will then be distributed to the Pond5 contributor.
There are no additional costs or fees to purchase a PRO track from Pond5 (with the exception of German PRO GEMA-affiliated tracks see How Do I Deal With The German PRO GEMA? below). PROs all have licensing agreements established with broadcasters, and this is how royalties are paid to artists. The fees paid to the performing rights organizations are typically paid by the broadcaster via an annual blanket license and are not within the responsibility of the producer.
What is a non-PRO track?
- A non-PRO track is any music track that isn’t affiliated with a performance rights organization. Nothing additional needs to be done once you’ve purchased a non-PRO track. Pond5 has thousands of non-PRO tracks for sale. In the “track details” section you can see whether or not a track is affiliated with a PRO. You can also do an advanced search for both PRO and non-PRO tracks.
What do I submit cue sheets for?
- If your project is going to be publicly broadcast (film, television, radio) you need to file a cue sheet. There is no additional cost. All you need to do is put PRO info in the cue sheet and email to both Pond5 (email@example.com) and the appropriate PROs.
Do I pay anything extra for this?
- No. Broadcasters pay for annual blanket licenses with the PROs to cover PRO content broadcast throughout the year. The customer doesn’t need to pay anything extra; they only need to submit the cue sheet.
When do I submit a cue sheet?
- Once your production has completed, you’re required to submit a cue sheet for any public broadcast to both the relevant PRO and Pond5.
- There’s an exception:
- Video Games (not considered a performance)
Do cue sheets apply to social media or digital-only use?
- PROs do not cue sheets for social media or digital-only use. Cue sheets are not necessary for these types of projects
Where can I find cue sheets?
- You can find a blank cue sheet here.
What information needs to be on the cue sheet?
- The cue sheet should have identifying information for the program it represents (i.e. film, episode of television series, etc.) and should list the cue title, duration, usage and entitled parties (writers/composers and publishers) for each PRO registered cue.
Who is responsible for submitting the cue sheets?
- The production company is responsible for submitting cue sheets. Typically, this is handled by the music department, a producer, or an editor. Although cue sheets may come in from other sources, the copy from the production company is always considered authoritative.
How do I file cue sheets online?
- You’re required to send a copy of your cue sheet to every PRO that appears on your cue sheet. In the USA, you can send sheets to either ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC:
- ASCAP: Submit electronically to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com
- BMI: Send electronic copies to firstname.lastname@example.org
- SESAC: Send electronic copies to email@example.com
- If you frequently submit cue sheets, you should consider using RapidCue, which is a submission system designed by both ASCAP and BMI.
When are cue sheets processed?
- Cue sheets are processed in time for the distribution that reflects performances in the quarter that the program was first broadcast. In other words, 4-6 months after the program has aired.
We advise buyers to air on the side of caution:
- If you put non-PRO music on a Cue Sheet it’s not a problem. When in doubt, put it on a cue sheet
How do I deal with GEMA?
Users of GEMA-protected works - primarily manufacturers of audio/video media, radio and television broadcasters, and the organizers of events such as music festivals, street festivals, Christmas markets, and many more - procure the required usage rights from GEMA by paying a fee, which is to be paid to the rights-holders after the deduction of an administrative handling charge.
When you buy a PRO track on Pond5 for a public performance and your company has no framework contract with GEMA, you need to file a cue sheet indicating the intended usage of the PRO track to GEMA. Here is the link to their online calculator and an overview of potential usages of PRO tracks. GEMA will then send you an invoice, and, after receiving your bank transfer, will pay the royalties to the creator of the PRO track you purchased earlier on Pond5.
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