TV Music Licensing pays songwriters and composers differently than Film Music Licensing does. Most songwriters don’t know that, and they ask me the question pretty frequently! The short answer is “yes, it pays differently,” in the U.S.
In the United States, composers of scores, background music and featured songs do NOT get paid when the music is played in a movie theater. In other words, there’s no back end, no performance royalty for music played in theaters. But there IS a performance royalty for theater play in many, if not most other countries.
So, while you won’t get an ASCAP, BMI or SESAC check for U.S. screenings of a movie with your music in it, you WILL get a check from your Performance Rights Organization months down the road from screenings outside of the U.S. Those checks are often slow in coming, as they need to go through the accounting systems of the foreign PROs, then go through the accounting system of your U.S. PRO.
BUT, you WILL get paid for your music if it’s in a Film that airs on a TV network in the U.S., so all is not lost. If you have music that ends up in a film that’s a huge hit, and gets tons of play on major and cable networks, month after month, year after year, you will see some nice checks hit your mailbox from those.
I’ll get into the difference between pay scales for music in cable vs network shows in another blog post. That’s a complicated matter and will need more time than I’ve got at the moment.
Talk to you soon,