Goodnight Kiss logoGoodnight Kiss Music (BMI) & Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)

Registering Writer Works Online With BMI

Feb. 1- Feb 22, 2001
Please note: Most of your Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) now have similar online information and registration of works. Please check with your PRO of choice. Most are also listed under their dot.com name, so just type that in to try first, or search using and engine for their location.

For literally years now, I have wanted to go back through all my old contracts and cue sheets and compare them to what is logged at BMI to my credit. Yes, I'm just as guilty as some of you are when it comes to filing and pursuing my own paperwork. When I first signed some of my songs into film, I let the movie companies file their own cue sheets, figuring I'd be paid consistently as long as I was listed. I was very misinformed by someone at that point, that I did not need to file each song under a separate writers' clearance.

Since then, I've seen my songs mis-credited on royalty statements in every way imaginable. I've seen co-writers who didn't get credit, co-writers who didn't write the song GET credit, publishers who didn't fulfill their contract (or sometimes didn't even HAVE one) take the publishing (get a lawyer, MCA doesn't answer letters from writers about this issue), and songs re-named and or mis-named. One of my most used songs, "Heartshaped Heartache" is now "Heartshaped Headache" in a couple of films. I have also seen a director become the credited songwriter for MY work, at a DIFFERENT PRO, although she swears the cue sheet has my name on it.

My friend, Lynne Robin Green, who is a long-time publisher, says that one NEVER lets a writer file their own cue-sheet, as they get everything wrong and cleaning up the mess is too hard. My experience now teaches me that I am responsible for the correct listings of my own works, and as one company sub-leases or buys product from the other and rights are transferred, at least my song will have a listed "starting place" where I can show its origin in actual USE, which is a step beyond the copyright office.

So how hard is it to register online? Not that bad, actually! Like all online sites, you are asked to create a User Name and Password. I was already a registered writer with BMI, and registered publisher, so I already had a Writer account number and a separate Publisher account number. When you set up your User Name, the software asks you for your account number, verifies who you are, and asks you what you want to do. You simply fill in the boxes with the song title, writers, what type of genre it is, copyright information (if you have it) and publisher information. Then when people log on to BMI and look up your name, or the song title, your song is listed.

Here's what BMI has posted about how to join :

When am I eligible to become a BMI writer?
If you have written musical compositions, alone or in collaboration with other writers, which, at the time of affiliating with BMI, are being performed or likely to be performed by broadcasting stations or in other public performances, and, in the opinion of BMI, you meet these basic qualifications, you are eligible to join BMI and a contract will be offered.

How do I actually become a BMI writer?
You must complete an application and sign a contract. You are not officially affiliated with BMI until this has been done. The process is very simple and only takes a few minutes.

What does it cost me to become a BMI writer?
BMI charges no fees or dues to writers.

And here is the BEST information I've seen collected on royalty payments in a managable form, regardless of who your PRO of choice may be, or even if you do not have one yet
:
THE BMI ROYALTY INFORMATION BOOKLET

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(C) 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Janet Fisher, Goodnight Kiss Music, no reprints without permission, all rights reserved world wide.