top of page

Cue sheet - The essential role that the Cue Sheet has when music is used in a production

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

Series/Film Title AKA

Episode Title

Episode Title AKA

Episode Number

Air Date

Show Length

Music Length

Production Company Information

Song/Cue Title

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:

Argentina SADAIC

Australia APRA

Austria AKM

Belgium SABAM


Bulgaria Musicautor

Canada SOCAN

Chile SCD

Colombia SAYCO

Croatia HDS

Czech Republic OSA

Denmark KODA

England (See United Kingdom)


Finland TEOSTO

France SACEM

Germany GEMA

Greece AEPI

Hong Kong CASH

Hungary Artisjus

Iceland STEF

India IPRS

Ireland IMRO

Israel ACUM

Italy SIAE


Lithuania LATGA-A

Malaysia MACP

Mexico SACM

Netherlands BUMA

New Zealand APRA

Norway TONO

Poland ZAIKS

Portugal SPA

Russia RAO

Singapore COMPASS

South Africa SAMRO

Spain SGAE

Sweden STIM

Switzerland SUISA

Trinidad & Tobago COTT

Turkey MESAM

United Kingdom PRS For Music

Uruguay AGADU


For further questions, please feel free to contact us:

#cuesheet #music #film #TV #musicsupervisor #filmcomposer

bottom of page