Cue Sheets and Production Music

If your music is used in a film or television program, filing a cue sheet with ASCAP is an important step in getting paid for your work. Here's everything you need to know about doing it right, and the most frequently asked questions about cue sheets.

As you may know, ASCAP licenses television stations and others the right to broadcast the music contained in their programming. ASCAP collects the license fees from networks, cable, PBS and local stations and distributes royalties to the composer and publisher members based on these performances. In order to determine what music has been performed and which members to pay for these performances, "cue sheets" are required that list all the music contained in any particular program. These cue sheets are then matched to broadcast schedules and performances are processed so that members can receive royalties from the use of their music.

If your music is used in a film or television program, it is imperative that a cue sheet is filed with ASCAP so that you can be paid for your work. Typically, the production company is responsible for doing this. ASCAP has very solid relationships with the major and larger independent production companies and the flow of cue sheets to ASCAP has been steady and reliable since the early days of film and television. Currently, ASCAP receives tens of thousands of cue sheets every year.

The creation of cue sheets often stems from the composer or music editor's spotting notes or edit decision list (EDL). If a music supervisor is on the project, they can sometimes 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, such as the proper copyright information for licensed music or 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 like ASCAP.

Due to the rapidly changing landscape of television and film production, there are a growing number of independent production companies that may not be aware of the importance of filing a music cue sheet. It has become increasingly important for composers, publishers and other music professionals to educate the production companies with which they work about what a cue sheet is. In recognition of this, ASCAP has created a new area on our website offering a "Cue Sheet FAQ" and downloadable samples for people not familiar with cue sheets. There is even a downloadable Excel file that can be used to submit to ASCAP electronically via e-mail. This area of the website can be found by clicking "Cue Sheets" on the left side of the home page at www.ascap.com.

For major production companies, ASCAP introduced EZQ in 1995, a PC based application, that allowed the easy creation and management of cue sheets and the ability to digitally submit the cue sheets directly to ASCAP's database for processing. Tens of thousands of cue sheets have been submitted through EZQ since that time. Look for future announcements of new technology in this area.

 




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