What Are PRO Tracks / Cue Sheets?
A performing rights organization (PRO) collects royalties between copyright holders and parties who wish to use copyrighted works in public broadcasts (such as in film, television, the web, and radio).
PROs use cue sheets to keep track of their members’ music when it’s used in public broadcasts or performances.
Cue sheets are filled out by the production company (usually a producer or editor) on behalf of the broadcaster (usually a TV network, film studio, or large platform like YouTube or Facebook). The cue sheet lists all the music “cues” used in a production. When completed, the cue sheet is submitted electronically to each relevant PRO associated with a piece of music used in the production. 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 PRS works with UK artists. SOCAN is based in Canada 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 piece of music is registered with a PRO, that information is listed on Item Details page for the track:
If you’re using the music in a public broadcast / performance (such as television, film, radio, or YouTube), you will need to submit a cue sheet to the appropriate PROs to report the usage. The PRO will then collect royalties on the track based on the blanket annual license the broadcaster has purchased, and those royalties will then be distributed to the Pond5 artist and their publisher (who usually the same person).
There are no additional costs or fees to purchase a PRO track from Pond5 (with the possible exception of German PRO GEMA-affiliated tracks [see How Do I Deal With The German PRO GEMA? below]). 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 (or Royalty-Free) track is any piece of music not affiliated with a performing rights organization. Nothing additional needs to be done once you’ve purchased a non-PRO track. Pond5 has hundreds of thousands of non-PRO tracks available for license. PRO affiliation, where applicable, is listed on both the Search Results page for each track, as well as on the Item Details page for each. Customers can also filter their search results to only see non-PRO tracks in the Additional Filters section of the Filter Bar.
Why do I submit cue sheets?
- If your project is going to be publicly broadcast (film, television, YouTube, sports arena, etc.) you need to file a cue sheet so the artist can receive the performance royalties owed to them as a member of their PRO. This is how many musicians and composers earn their living. There is no additional cost for submitting a cue sheet. Simply fill out the song and project info 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 so the artist can receive their performance royalties.
When do I submit a cue sheet?
- When a production company completes a project that will be publicly broadcast, they’re required to submit a cue sheet listing any PRO-affiliated to both the relevant PROs and Pond5.
- There are a few exceptions currently, although this may change over time:
- Video Games (which are not considered a “performance”)
- Radio ads
How does PRO apply to social media or internet use?
- Both YouTube and Facebook have blanket licenses with the PROs and are considered a public broadcast, so cue sheets should be filed.
Where can I find a blank cue sheet template?
- 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
- PRS: Send electronic copies to firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you frequently submit cue sheets,you should consider using RapidCue, which is submission system designed by both ASCAP and BMI.
- Can’t find a PRO’s contact info? Reach out to email@example.com and we’ll help.
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, which is usually 4-6 months after the program has aired.
We advise buyers to air on the side of caution:
- All music used in a production should be listed on the cue sheet, both PRO and non-PRO music, even though only PRO-affiliated artists will receive performance royalties
- When in doubt, just put it on the 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.
Still need help? Contact us!