What is SESAC?

SESAC is one of the best known Perfomance Rights Organizations. Also known as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, it was founded by Paul Heinecke, a German immigrant, in New York. In its origins in 1930, it provided support to underrepresented European stage authors and composers when they performed in the USA. Although the name has remained the same throughout the years, the organization has evolved and now represents artists from all over the world, not just Europe. Heinecke led the company until he passed away in 1970.

So, what is a Performance Rights Organization?

A Performance Rights Organization, also known as a PRO, is an organization in charge of administering the rights of songwriters and publishers. In the United States, the main PROs are ASCAP, SESAC, BMI and GMR.

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to keep up with all the different ways music can be played, purchased, listened to and consumed. The revenue from the sale of physical CDs is declining, as are downloads. Attention is turning more than ever towards other sources, such as royalty revenues (performance rights). PROs play a big role in collecting these rights and ensuring the compliance of these fees.

Their duties include the collection of royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers, as well as their distribution. It’s impossible for creators to pick up individual royalties; there are simply too many. So what is the purpose of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC? PROs work to make sure the relevant royalties are paid. To do this effectively they have close contact with music platforms as well as a network of people checking physical locations.

What distinguishes SESAC from BMI and ASCAP?

Unlike ASCAP and BMI, which are non-profit organizations, SESAC is a for-profit organization, making them a slightly different player in the market. They take a partnership approach with their affiliates in order to improve their financial outcomes. Another point of difference is that SESAC is not subject to the consent decree, so they license in a free market. This enables them to achieve better outcomes.

What can my business do to pay for these rights?

SoundMachine pays SESAC, and the other PROs, directly, on your behalf. By using SoundMachine as your background music service you can enjoy the best music in your establishment with full legal coverage, while knowing your favorite artists are getting paid for creating the music you love.

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