There is a bit of strategy involved with affiliating with a performing rights society in the United States. All the societies have a creative staff. The decision to affiliate with a particular society should be made after the artist/writer has taken some meetings with the performing rights society and decided if there’s more love coming from one than another.
Most of the time we like to wait until the music is fairly well formed and the band has gelled into a working unit before approaching the societies unless there’s a reason to move more quickly, such as getting a film or TV license, or substantial radio/webcasting play. In more experienced bands, the writers will already have an affiliation, so it is a good idea to know this in advance for purposes of servicing the creative staff with new music, competing for slots on compilations and festival shows, etc.
The major U.S. performing rights societies are the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (http://www.ascap.com/), Broadcast Music, Inc. (http://www.bmi.com/) and the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (http://www.sesac.com/).
Copyright 2009 Chris Castle and Amy Mitchell