All About SESAC…
SESAC, which stands for the Society of European Authors is the smallest of the three performance rights organizations in the United States. They claim to be the fastest growing PRO since being founded in 1930.
One of the biggest differences between SESAC and its rivals ASCAP and BMI is that its business operates for profit. ASCAP and BMI are both Non-Profit Organizations which greatly benefit from tax advantages that SESAC does not. The disclosure of what percentage SESAC keeps for profit is undisclosed and has caused a bit of controversy. To become a member, one must apply and be approved where BMI and ASCAP maintain open memberships.
The founder of SESAC was Paul Heinecke who led the company until passing in 1972. The original objective of SESAC was to support the European stage authors and composers. The business now functions as a fully operational Performance Rights Organization in the United States since the companies original mission was altered.
SESAC serves all genres but seems to have a focus on indies. Some of their bigger clients include Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond as well as newer artists such as Coheed & Cambria, The Faint, The Rapture and Mumford and Sons.
Ownership changed hands in the last 20 years as they have focused more on mainstream music as well as television.
SESAC claims to charge no fees or dues to its growing membership. They look for quality over quantity while focusing on artist/songwriters/publishers that have music as their professional career. They also claim to be a technology leader of all the three PRO’s by “utilizing the top digital technologies to enhance its tracking of performances”. (source SESAC website on 11/11/11)
I don’t see where SESAC offers a health or medical insurance package to its membership but they do show affiliations and discounts to many respected organizations such as Billboard, Songtrust, Berkleemusic.com, AVIS Rental Cars, The Hollywood Reporter and Disc Makers just to name a few.
I personally don’t have any experience working with SESAC so I can’t add anything to say if this would fit for you and your music or not. What I can say is that SESAC seems to be hooking up with some very indie-forward music. If your music fits in that genre, it may be advantageous to at least take a look at this as an option when choosing a PRO.
Don’t be afraid to call and ask. Developing a solid relationship with your PRO can bring a lifetime of opportunities beyond the discounts and insurances the three PRO’s can offer. Make sure to do your research and develop that relationship before signing on. Also, remember that you can switch from one PRO to another at anytime with a little bit of legwork.
Write great songs and develop a relationship with one of the PRO’s and they’ll make sure to pay you for every time your songs are performed commercially in the United States.