You can, but we can’t recommend it.
It’s possible to switch your Performing Rights Organization (PRO) affiliation in the U.S., but, to put it frankly - it’s a major headache.
Each PRO has its own process and requirements that must be met before you can receive a proper release letter, allowing you to make the change. BMI asks for at least a two-year term after your initial affiliation date. ASCAP does not have a minimum term; but they do have specific windows throughout the year when you can request the termination of your affiliation, depending on when you first joined. If you miss your window, you will have to wait until the following year.
If you have an unrecouped advance or adjustment with your PRO, you will most likely not be able to leave until it is paid back or your term ends.
When switching to a new PRO, you will see delays in your royalty flow and may lose out on some royalties entirely, depending on the type of usage. For more info on how complex this transition can be, check out our detailed blog post here.
We also compiled list of key things to consider below:
- Membership Terms: When you affiliated with your PRO, you agreed to their membership terms. These likely included a minimum amount of time before you can switch to another society. This may also depend on the number of songs you’ve registered with them, when you registered those songs, and how much money those songs are making.
- Delays In Song Registration: Your old society will continue to license the songs you registered with them, per their agreements with their licensees, as you’re switching over to your new society.
- Membership Fees: Some societies charge an affiliation fee; you may have to pay again to sign up with a new PRO.
- Delays In Payment: There will be delays in your royalty payments as your new PRO processes all of your information and songs; their licensees may only update their payees every quarter or as an individual term ends, so you can imagine how messy things will be given the dozens upon dozens of licensees with contracts in play at your former and new PROs.
- Foreign Collection: Payments from foreign societies may come into your society at a very delayed pace. These “in-flight” (e.g., coming in the next quarter or two) payments could take 3-4 years to untangle, if they aren’t lost entirely.
If, even despite all of these downsides, you do choose to change your affiliation, you must notify us of your new PRO and IPI so we can update your account information accordingly, as soon as you make the switch.
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