Understanding the Opt Out

Following the European Union’s CISAC decision in 2008 composers, songwriters, publishers, performers and record labels have the right to opt out of a category of use with their national collecting societies – therefore granting the possibility for artists to choose with which collecting society they’d like to register certain categories of rights. Thankfully, Caroline Astaes conducted research on each European collecting society to determine which collecting societies have already implemented a standard procedure for the opt out and what it may be. Caroline was generous enough to talk about her findings and explain the process in greater depth!

1.  What is an “Opt Out” and how does it affect musicians who want to register with Soundreef?

In Europe, when you join a collecting society you usually sign an exclusive deal for all the songs you write regardless of the fact you actually register them with the
collecting society or not. This means you can only register with one collecting society at a time- on a territorial basis and you can’t register a few songs with one and few with another. So, if I live in France and I decide register with SACEM I can’t register other songs with PRS or GEMA as I have given the exclusive right to collect royalties to SACEM for any song I write as an author.

However in 2008 and again in 2014 with the Directive 2014/26/EU, the European Union confirmed that European right holders (that is, publishers and writers) have the right to split their music rights across different collecting societies and territories.

This means that European artists can limit their agreement with a national collecting society so that someone else can manage a certain type of right for them (for example, licensing your music to be used as background music for stores or live events) within a certain territory (for example, Europe).

This procedure is known as an opt out and it means that composers, songwriters, publishers, performers and record labels, when registering with a collecting society have the right to withdraw categories of rights from management.

By choosing to opt out of certain categories of rights or territories a Danish musician for instance, is able to register with Soundreef, PRS and BUMA STEMRA  if he wishes to do so to make the most of his royalties

2.  How can users be registered with both their national collecting society and Soundreef?

It depends. It can be different from one collecting society to the other. Best is to send them an email asking what the exact procedure is. Otherwise it will be
mentioned in the terms and conditions of the contract.


3.  Do all collecting societies allow members to opt out?

We have received confirmation that the following collecting societies have a procedure to do so in place:  AEPI (Greece), AKKA/LAA (Latvia), BUMA STEMRA (The Netherlands), GEMA (Germany), MUSICAUTOR (Bulgaria),  PRS (United Kingdom), SACEM (France), SIAE (Italy), SUISA (Switzerland), SPA (Portugal), TEOSTO (Finland), TONO (Norway) and ZAIKS (Poland).

4.  If a collecting society does not allow the a member to opt out, can musicians terminate their membership with the collecting society
and is this a good option for musicians who want to be registered with

Yes, a musician can terminate its membership with another collecting society if he wishes to join Soundreef although at the moment Soundreef only deals with
royalties for music used as background by businesses and for live events in Italy.

I think musicians should weigh the pro and con’s and try and see how they earn their royalties. Is it from live performance, online streaming, background
music? Is their music listened to abroad? In which country exactly?

What is needed is transparency to make informed choices.

5.  Were there any particular findings or overall observations
that stuck out to you during your research?

Most collecting societies were willing to cooperate. Some people I dealt with were very nice. I have no doubt that artists can go and ask questions regarding the opt out procedure.

Thanks so much Caroline! 

The following collecting societies HAVE a procedure in place which allows members to opt out for certain rights or territories. However, each collecting society has its own procedure so make sure you check the sources to figure out each society’s specific process!

Membership Agreement 
Author’s Contract
STEMA (Netherlands)
Membership Agreement
GEMA Deed of Assignment
Article 3 of Contract for Transfer of Rights of Authors
(United Kingdom)
Article 7 of the Membership Agreement
Article 34-1 of the Membership Agreement
SABAM (Belgium)Article 11 of Statute
Limitazione di Mandato
Article 3 of General Terms and Conditions For Rights
Specify on Membership Application
Article 3 of the Membership
Apply through Membership Application
Membership Agreement


The following collecting societies DO NOT have a procedure in place yet that allows members to opt out. We have provided each collecting society’s email and suggest that you email your collecting society to enquire when it will be available.

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
(Czech Republic)
[email protected]
(United Kingdom)
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
PERFORM (Switzerland)
[email protected]
[email protected]


For the full details read the research report and if you are looking for a complete list of European collecting societies look no further.