As the world of publishing continues to evolve, so too do the options available to songwriters seeking to get their work into the hands of music lovers. One of the biggest players on the scene is BMI Publishing.
Is BMI Publishing worth it?
BMI Publishing is worth it for songwriters, composers, and publishers. BMI handles music licensing, royalty payment, and distribution of music to radio stations, concerts, media, and other channels. BMI saves music creators and music consumers time and money by playing the middleman.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to answer the question, “Is BMI Publishing worth it?”
BMI Publishing is a full-service music rights organization that specializes in the representation of songwriters, composers, and publishers.
BMI stands for Broadcast Music Inc.
They work with songwriters and publishers of all sizes to bring their projects to life. In addition to providing copyright management tools, mediation, representation, and distribution services.
They strive to provide the highest level of service and attention to detail for every project, believing that every project is unique.
Whether you’re looking to write your first song or your hundredth, they would be honored to help you achieve your musical goals.
Instead of charging authors for their services, BMI Publishing operates on a royalty-sharing basis, meaning that authors only have to pay if and when their music generates revenue.
But is this model worth it for songwriters, composers, and publishers?
To answer that question, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the pros and cons of BMI Publishing.
If you’re an aspiring songwriter, you’ve undoubtedly heard of BMI Publishing.
But is it really worth your time and effort? Let’s look at the reasons why we believe BMI Publishing is a great investment for any aspiring musical writer, composer, or publisher.
Here are five good reasons BMI Publishing is worth it.
1) Copyright Protection
One of the main reasons BMI Publishing is worth it is for musical copyright protection.
This means that when your work is used, you get paid. If you’re not part of a performing rights organization, then anyone can use your music without compensating you.
BMI will track when and where your music is played so that you can be fairly compensated for your hard work.
2) World’s Most Popular Music
BMI represents some of the most popular artists in the world.
As a member, you’ll have access to this amazing catalog of music. This is perfect if you’re a DJ, looking for new music to play, or just want to find some new tunes to enjoy.
Everyone in the world also has access to your songs and compositions through the platform.
3) Fostering New Talent
BMI is committed to supporting and growing new talent.
BMI offers educational, creative, and promotional opportunities to help new artists get their start. For example, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.
The workshop is a place where young artists can come together to share their ideas and talents.
It provides a nurturing environment where these artists can grow and learn.
4) Booking Stages & Performance Slots
BMI also arranges performances at popular festivals and conferences all year long.
This gives you the opportunity to showcase your work on a big stage in front of a large audience. Some of the festivals and conferences include Bonnaroo, CMJ, Lollapalooza, MOBfest, SXSW, and Austin City Limits Music Festival.
5) Receiving Expert Insight
As a BMI member, you’ll also have access to insight from BMI insiders through panels and workshops.
This is a great way to learn about the music industry, get tips on songwriting, and more.
The BMI 101 workshop is an introductory course that discusses the history of copyright, the beginning of BMI, and where BMI fits into the music industry.
As you can see, there are many good reasons to consider BMI Publishing when you’re ready to take your songwriting career to the next level.
5 Reasons BMI Publishing Is Not Worth It
There are also downsides to publishing with BMI.
Here are five reasons BMI publishing might not be worth it.
1) BMI Is Not Free for Publishers
While it is free for individual songwriters and composers to join BMI, there is a yearly fee for music publishers and companies.
This fee can be a hurdle for smaller publishers and new companies who are trying to get their start in the business.
The fees for publishers:
- Independent/Individual publishers – $150
- Publishing companies – $250
2) BMI Might Miss Some Royalties Because of Competition
In addition, BMI is not the only performing rights organization out there. ASCAP, SESAC, and GMR are all competing for the same pool of music publishers and companies.
As a result, BMI may not be able to collect as much in royalties as it could if it had a monopoly on the market.
This downside of BMI’s business model could mean that some music publishers and companies are reluctant to join the organization.
3) BMI Is Not Your Publisher
BMI is a performance rights organization (PRO) and not a publisher.
This can be a downside because you will need to acquire a publisher elsewhere in order to have someone represent your interests and negotiate deals on your behalf.
This can be an extra hassle and expense, particularly for independent artists who may not have the same resources available to them.
However, if you do your research and choose a reputable publisher, you can be confident that your interests will be well represented.
4) BMI Does Not Collect Mechanical Royalties
BMI doesn’t collect mechanical royalties on your behalf.
If you’re an artist who writes and records their own music, this means that you need to register with another organization in order to ensure that you’re collecting all of the royalties that you’re owed.
While BMI does offer a number of helpful resources for songwriters, the fact that they don’t collect mechanical royalties can be a downside for artists who are trying to keep track of their earnings and ensure that they receive all of the money that they’re owed.
5) BMI Requires a Contract
When you join BMI Publishing, you must sign a multi-year contract with the company.
The length of the contract depends on how you register:
- Songwriters must sign a 2-year contract
- Publishers must sign a 5-year contract
While contracts are not inherently bad, they are something to consider when partnering with any person or organization related to your music career.
Here is a quick overview of the benefits of BMI Publishing.
BMI Publishing’s benefits include:
- The ability to protect your copyright and ensure that their work is fairly compensated.
- Access to popular worldwide music.
- Fostering new talent through educational, creative, and promotional opportunities.
- Booking performances in every season of the year.
- Receiving insight from BMI insiders through panels, workshops, and more.
- BMI handles all listening and royalties for you.
- BMI manages music distribution.
- Joining a community of like-minded artists, composers, and publishers.
- BMI gives your music career a level of professionalism.
- They work with small and brad-new artists.
Is BMI Publishing Free?
BMI does not charge any fees for songwriters to become members.
There are also no registration fees, annual fees, or dues as a BMI songwriter member. As we mentioned earlier, BMI Publishing is not free for publishers.
BMI is also not free for businesses that publicly perform BMI-represented songs. These businesses include radio stations, TV stations, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
The royalties collected by BMI are distributed to BMI songwriters, composers, and music publishers.
As a result, BMI Publishing is only free for independent songwriters.
BMI offers two different membership types: songwriter and publisher.
As a songwriter, you will receive royalties whenever your composition is performed publicly.
This includes performances on the radio, television, in clubs, and at live events. You will also earn royalties when your song is used in a movie, video game, or another type of audiovisual production.
Publisher members, on the other hand, earn royalties whenever one of the compositions in their catalog is performed publicly.
In order to become a publisher member, you must control the copyright to at least one composition.
So, which membership type is right for you?
If you are a songwriter who does not control the copyright to your compositions, then joining as a songwriter is the best option.
However, if you control the copyright to at least one composition, then becoming a publisher member may be more beneficial.
If you do choose to join BMI, here is a good video that walks you through the process:
Is BMI Publishing Worth It for Independent Songwriters?
BMI publishing is worth it for independent songwriters.
For many independent songwriters, BMI can be a valuable resource, providing them with royalty payments, discounts on music industry products and services, and access to educational resources.
Managing listening and royalty fees yourself can quickly become overwhelming.
There is also no cost for independent songwriters to join BMI. That makes BMI a great platform for songwriters of any genre – even niche songwriters such as jingle writers.
Therefore, BMI can be a helpful resource for independent songwriters, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before joining.
If you’re a musician, songwriter, or composer, you’re probably familiar with BMI and ASCAP.
These two organizations are two of the largest PROs in the United States. They both represent songwriters, composers, and music publishers by licensing their copyrighted works and collecting royalties on their behalf.
But which one is better?
The answer may depend on your particular situation. BMI tends to be more lenient when it comes to licensing requirements, which can be helpful if you’re just starting out.
ASCAP, on the other hand, is more selective about who it licenses, and also offers a competitive royalty rate.
It’s also helpful to realize that ASCAP charges a registration fee but offers shorter, one-year contracts.
Ultimately, the best performing rights organization for you is the one that best meets your needs. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, speak to a music industry professional to get some guidance.
Final Thoughts: Is BMI Publishing Worth It?
The bottom line is that BMI Publishing is a legitimate, professional company with a long history of helping songwriters and publishers get paid.
However, if you’re ghostwriting for rappers, you’ll probably need to seek representation elsewhere.
Thanks for reading!
Before you go, check out a few more articles about songwriting and the music industry.
- How Much Do Rap Ghostwriters Make? (With Real Numbers)
- Which Rappers Use Ghostwriters? (Info on 30+ Rappers)