Cue sheets are forms that are filled out by television shows and submitted to Performing Rights Organizations.  These forms indicate what music was used and how and they determine how each placement´s royaly is calculated. The list of usage categories for music in a film or television show is:

  • Visual Vocal -- On-camera vocal performance
  • Visual Instrumental -- On-camera instrumental performance 
  • Visual Dance -- On-camera dance
  • Opening Theme -- Opening title theme
  • Closing Theme -- End title theme
  • Featured Vocal -- Music with vocal that plays with a visual montage (for example)
  • Featured Instrumental -- An instrumental cue featured in some specific way other than visual. (This is a rarely utilized usage category.)
  • Background Instrumental -- Underscore and non-visual (off-camera) source
  • Background Vocal -- Underscore with vocal or non-visual vocal source

  • The first seven categories are considered ¨featured¨ performances and they generate much higher performance royalties than background performances do.  In general, the more prominently your music is featured in a scene the larger the performance royalty it generates. Royalties for a feature performance of 45 seconds or more on network primetime can be as much as $2,400.  Background performace royalties are much less, approximately $340.00 per minute for network primetime.
    Established shows submit cue sheets for their broadcasts to performance rights organizations automatically.  Normally there is nothing you need to do as artist in terms of submitting cue sheets.  In fact, many placements happen without artists knowing upfront since music is often placed on very short notice.  However, if your music is placed in a smaller network that isn't established, it's a good idea to double check with the producer of the show to make sure they report to the PRO's.  If your music usage isn't reported, you can't earn performance royalties.

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