This is a new era where rising Film Industries across the world are emerging in a growing international market place. Great developments in technology are also bringing in new exciting players and creating Film and Television production companies worldwide. All these new and fast expanding production companies and cable operators are learning how to adopt the standard way of tracking how music is used in their productions. At the heart of this process there is one essential document: the Cue Sheet.
A Cue Sheet is essentially a list of all the music performed in a particular film or television program. This detailed schedule of the music is in fact indispensable for PROs (Performance Rights Organizations) in order to distribute royalties of musical performances in audio-visual media. PROs use the data provided in the cue sheets as their primary tool to identify and pay performance royalties to composers and publishers.
Typically, cue sheets are prepared by the production company’s music department. In Feature Film and in TV Series often the creation of cue sheets is originated from the composer or music editor's original spotting notes or edit decision list (EDL). In fact composers will most of the time create a master cue log where they list all the cues to be composed. They will also indicate the cue title and timecode (when and how long each track will play in the film). In other cases a music supervisor may be responsible for collecting information on the music used as well. A rough draft of a cue sheet is then sent to the music department at the production company for verification of accuracy and the inclusion of additional information. That includes proper copyright information for licensed music and other publishing related information. The production company then distributes the finished cue sheet to all interested parties, such as publishers, composers, attorneys and performing rights organizations. The cue sheets are also provided to the broadcaster, so that the use of the music can be reported to the PROs every time that project is broadcast.
A properly prepared cue sheet will list all the following pieces of information:
Series/Film Title AKA
Episode Title AKA
Production Company Information
Performing rights society
It is the legal and professional responsibility of the Production Company that is using the music of composers and publishers (whose rights are represented by performing rights societies) to accurately log the required information in a Cue Sheet.
All audio/visual products that contain multiple pieces of music including Infomercials and commercials will require Cue Sheets.
It is important to keep in mind that it does not cost anything to the production company or the broadcaster to file a cue sheet! The payment that is made to the composer and publisher is taken from an annual blanket licenses paid by the broadcasting companies to performance rights organizations. These annual license fees will be exactly the same whether cue sheets are filed or not. The Cue Sheet only ensures correct distribution of these annual fees to the actual composers and publishers who created the music used in the broadcasts.
On top of this the use of a Cue Sheet may become a very important source of revenue to the Production Company. In fact it is not uncommon for the production company to negotiate that it will retain the publishing interests of the underscore in the composer's agreement. This is particularly common when a composer is hired to create a custom made score for a Feature Film or TV series. In this case it is clearly in the Production Company’s best interest to promptly fill out all the necessary cue sheets. The Production Company will have to establish a publishing company to receive performance royalties which often generate very large profits. Performance Rights Organizations in every country process thousands of cue sheets every year and distribute billions of dollars in royalties.
This is a list of Performance Rights Organizations across the world and a links to their websites where you can further your research on how cue sheets are used to identify and pay performance royalties to composers and publishers:
Czech Republic OSA
England (See United Kingdom)
Hong Kong CASH
New Zealand APRA
South Africa SAMRO
Trinidad & Tobago COTT
United Kingdom PRS For Music
USA BMI ASCAP SESAC
For further questions, please feel free to contact us: http://www.zonestonemusic.com/contact