Understanding Cue Sheets

Whether you are using Royalty Free Music or any other type of licensing model, cue sheets are something every producer or production company should be familiar with.

Every country has performing rights organizations (PROs) that work on behalf of composers and publishers. In the United States, Ascap and Bmi are the two largest PROs. Ascap and Bmi license television stations and others the right to broadcast the music contained in their programs. They collect the license fees from networks, cable, PBS, and local stations and distribute royalties to the composers and publishers based on these performances. In order to determine what music has been used, and who to pay, Cue Sheets are required that list all the music contained in any particular program, infomercial, or commercial.

So,...what is a Cue Sheet? A Cue Sheet is the primary means by which performing rights organizations track the use of music in films and tv. Without cue sheets, it would be nearly impossible for composers and publishers to be compensated for their work. The industry has established standards in regards to what information is necessary on a cue sheet. It should have information regarding the program it represents (for example: film, episode of tv series, etc.) and should list the songs, duration it was used, type of use, and publisher and composer for each song.

With the increase in independent producers and cable operations, the proper filing of cue sheets has become even more crucial to tracking music usage. Newcomers to the industry are sometimes unaware of the legal and professional responsibilities involved in using music for broadcast.

The responsibility for submitting cue sheets is the producer, or production company who used the music. Typically, this is handled by the music department or the post production department. Cue sheets should be turned in to any PRO who represents music used in that program.

In order to simplify the process for you, cue sheets can be turned in directly to Prolific Arts at cuesheets@prolificartsmusic.com. We will happily file all cue sheets with the appropriate performing rights organizations for you.  Download a blank cue sheet here.