Understanding BMI and Buma/Stemra: A Comparison for Music Creators

close up of a gramophone

For musicians and songwriters, navigating the world of music royalties and licensing can be a daunting task. Two major performance rights organizations, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and Buma/Stemra, play crucial roles in ensuring that creators are compensated for their musical works. In this blog, we’ll delve into the differences and similarities between BMI and Buma/Stemra, helping you make informed decisions about which organization might be the right fit for your music career.


BMI, based in the United States, is one of the largest performance rights organizations globally. Its primary focus is on collecting and distributing royalties for public performances of musical compositions. Here are some key aspects of BMI:

  1. Territory: BMI operates predominantly in the United States, making it an ideal choice for American artists and songwriters.
  2. Membership and Affiliation: Becoming a BMI member is free. You can join as a songwriter, composer, or publisher. BMI does not require exclusive rights to your music, allowing you to retain control over your work.
  3. Royalty Collection: BMI collects royalties from a wide range of sources, including radio, television, live performances, digital streaming, and more. They distribute these royalties to their members based on airplay frequency and other performance metrics.
  4. Global Partnerships: While BMI’s primary focus is the U.S., it has reciprocal agreements with many international PROs (Performance Rights Organizations), allowing its members to collect royalties from international performances.


Buma/Stemra is the Dutch collective management organization responsible for managing the copyrights of composers and music publishers in the Netherlands. It focuses on licensing music for public performance, broadcasting, and digital distribution. Here’s what you need to know about Buma/Stemra:

  1. Territory: Buma/Stemra primarily operates in the Netherlands but also has relationships with international PROs to manage international royalties.
  2. Membership and Affiliation: Joining Buma/Stemra involves an application process. As a member, you assign your rights to the organization, allowing them to license and collect royalties on your behalf.
  3. Royalty Collection: Buma/Stemra collects royalties from various sources, including concerts, radio, TV, and digital platforms. They distribute these royalties to members based on the usage of their works.
  4. Collaboration with STEMRA: Buma focuses on performance rights, while STEMRA, a sister organization, manages mechanical rights (rights related to recordings). Together, they provide comprehensive coverage for creators.

Choosing the Right Option:

The choice between BMI and Buma/Stemra depends on your geographical location and career goals. If you’re a U.S.-based artist looking to maximize royalties within the United States, BMI is a strong choice. On the other hand, if you’re based in the Netherlands or Europe, Buma/Stemra can help you manage royalties and licensing more effectively in those regions. BMI is a totally free option on the other hand Buma, you pay a fee up front.

Conclusion: Both BMI and Buma/Stemra play vital roles in ensuring that music creators are compensated fairly for their artistic contributions. Whether you’re a songwriter, composer, or publisher, understanding the differences between these organizations can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your music career aspirations and international reach. Learn about royalties.