What is PRO Registered Music?
Many stock music websites offer PRO (Performance Rights Organisation) registered music. It can get quite confusing trying to figure out what this means and how it affects the license you purchase.
Most ‘royalty free music’ websites don’t even tell you when a composer is a PRO member, because it’s only in exceptional circumstances that such membership actually causes additional licensing requirements.
A composer joins a PRO when their music is used in high-end media such as TV and film. When their music is distributed through these channels they are paid performance royalties regardless of whether the music is ‘royalty free’ or not.
So someone licensing music from from a stock music store pays to download the track and never incurs any additional fees. If a broadcaster (TV Network) purchases the track they must pay royalties.
For example, you find a fantastic royalty free track online, purchase a license and download it. Your production is very successful and you are approached by a major TV network who would like to air it on TV. At this point as a producer you fill out a ‘cue sheet’ – a form containing information on the track, your production and when it will be aired.
Once your production has been on TV, the network pays royalties to the PRO registered composer every quarter. The cue sheet is used to ensure the money is paid to the musician, plus the composer may use online detection tools such as Tunesat which use fingerprinting to detect track usage.
Non-PRO means that a composer is not a member of any kind of Performance Rights Organisation and so no royalties would be charged.
Occasionally, tracks may require additional licensing from the PRO in your country dependant on end usage.