MBP001 : How To Retroactively Claim Mechanical and Performance Royalties

How To Retroactively Claim Royalties

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Music Business podcast. In this episode, we look at how to claim mechanical and performance royalties.

Listen to the Audio

In this episode James talks about:

  • Back claiming on royalties
  • PRS for Music
  • BMI
  • MCPS

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.





Hello, my name is Louis-Virie Blanche and my question pertains to having songs used on a daytime television soap opera, and not having those songs registered at the time of their airing of the soap opera. Is there a way of retroactively being paid for their use on a soap opera even if at the time of their usage, the songwriter was not affiliated with a performing rights agency? My name is Louis-Virie Blanche. My website is [email protected] Thank you.

James: Hey Louis, that’s a great question. So, let me tackle it in a couple of different ways. First of all, you’re asking if there’s a way to retroactively claim for mechanical or synchronization of performing rights. So a couple of things, first of all it depends. It depends on the society you’re a member of. The PRO that you’re a member of, and also the source from which that money is coming from.

So it could be different whether it’s mechanical or synch type of royalty. In the UK, I could tell you for example, with PRS you can actually get up to three years to back claim, but it really depends on the source. And I’ll give you an example here: I was working with one artist and writer and we were able to go back, I think it was under three years. And he got about $15,000 back for mechanical and performance royalties, that were related to his songs, I think like 4 songs in total. They’ve been getting played quite a lot on radio, and also been on some recordings as well.

So what you need to do is, first of all, contact your different society, I know that BMI is usually around for eight months. It really all depends on the source once again. When I was involved more on the record label side, we always had to keep what we called a copyright control fund, or something similar. That was basically where we had to put a certain amount of money aside every month or every quarter that we knew someone had the right to that work, but we didn’t know who it was. So we would have a second bank account where that money would go into.

Most international societies, they would make record labels certainly do that. In the case for soap operas, all the different societies, chances are, they would have received money from the TV stations and different outlets for your works, it’s just that they don’t know where to send it. So you just need to help them match that money with yourself.

So what I would do just to confirm again, is to contact whichever PROs you are with– you may be with BMI or ASCAP. I’m not really sure if you’re in the US or in the UK. If you’re in the UK it would be PRS, for music it’s MCPS, and you can reach out to them and usually they are very approachable, and describe your situation and you can find out exactly what their terms are for each individual society.

So, Louis-Virie, I hope that’s been useful to you. My name is James Taylor from the Music Business Institute.