SESAC – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Music Business Glossary

I. What is SESAC?

SESAC, originally known as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, is a performing rights organization (PRO) based in the United States. It was founded in 1930 and is one of the three major PROs in the country, alongside ASCAP and BMI. SESAC represents songwriters, composers, and music publishers by licensing their music and collecting royalties on their behalf for public performances.

II. How does SESAC work?

SESAC works by issuing licenses to businesses and organizations that use music in public settings, such as radio stations, television networks, live music venues, and streaming platforms. These licenses grant the right to publicly perform the music of SESAC-affiliated songwriters and composers. SESAC then collects fees from these license holders and distributes royalties to its members based on the performances of their music.

III. What are the benefits of joining SESAC?

One of the main benefits of joining SESAC is the personalized attention and support that members receive. SESAC is known for its hands-on approach to working with songwriters and composers, offering guidance and assistance in various aspects of their careers. Additionally, SESAC prides itself on its ability to provide accurate and timely royalty payments to its members, ensuring that they are fairly compensated for their work.

IV. How does SESAC differ from other performing rights organizations?

SESAC differs from other PROs in several key ways. Unlike ASCAP and BMI, which operate as non-profit organizations, SESAC is a for-profit company. This allows SESAC to operate with more flexibility and efficiency in its business practices. Additionally, SESAC is known for its selective membership process, which results in a smaller, more curated roster of songwriters and composers. This exclusivity can be both a benefit and a drawback for musicians looking to join a PRO.

V. How do musicians and songwriters get paid through SESAC?

Musicians and songwriters receive royalties from SESAC based on the performances of their music in public settings. SESAC uses a complex system of tracking technologies to monitor when and where music is played, allowing them to accurately calculate royalties for their members. These royalties are then distributed to members on a quarterly basis, providing them with a steady stream of income from their music.

VI. What are some common misconceptions about SESAC?

One common misconception about SESAC is that it is only for established or mainstream artists. While SESAC does have a reputation for representing high-profile songwriters and composers, the organization also works with emerging talent and independent musicians. Another misconception is that joining SESAC guarantees success in the music industry. While SESAC can provide valuable support and resources to its members, success ultimately depends on the talent and hard work of the individual artist.