When I came to town to perform and write, I had someone ask me which P.R.O. I belonged to. I had no answer, because, not only was I not affiliated with any of them, I didn't even know what one was.
When you hear people talk about a "P.R.O.," they are referring to a Performing Rights Organization. The three major P.R.O.s in the United States are:
And in Canada:
The job of a P.R.O. is to track, collect and distribute performance royalties from radio, television and live performances. They all accomplish the same work, and are one of the songwriter's best friends and biggest advocates. They write the big checks we all dream of finding in our mailbox one day.
The decision of which P.R.O. to join is based less on hard facts than it is a gut feeling. I've heard of two co-writers initially getting paid different amounts by their different P.R.O.s for writing the same song, but the amounts evened out over the long term. The best advice I ever heard when making my decision was to go wherever I felt the most welcome and had the strongest relationships. You need to go where they know your name and are familiar with what you do. I know songwriters at all three American P.R.O.s who are equally happy where they are (you can only join one at a time, but are able to switch over time if so desired).
I actually ended up meeting my publisher and signing my deal directly through my P.R.O. and the people I knew there. But more on that later...
Keep writing (and contact a P.R.O. if you haven't already),