Traditionally, a cue sheet is nothing more than a printed listing of musical compositions that have been synchronized as cues in programming. While cue sheets primarily report the synchronization of music in feature films and television programs, they also report music use in radio and internet programs, and in advertising.
The metadata about a musical composition that are normally included in a cue sheet include:
Cue sheets normally report the synchronization of each musical composition in a feature film or program, whether it is a song, theme, background music (such as a bumper or cue) or jingle. Cue sheets traditionally do not identify the master recordings that have been synchronized, even though the synchronization of a master recording triggers a separate license fee payment. Nor do cue sheets traditionally identify other creative contributors (such as guild members) to programming or advertising.
- The composers, lyricists, arrangers and publishers of each composition and their respective performing rights organizations (for example, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC);
- The share in the copyright of each composer, lyricist, arranger and publisher;
- The elapsed time of the feature film, program or advertisement at which the synchronization of each composition commences;
- The duration of each synchronization; and
- The type of performance that applies to each synchronization (typically, Feature, Theme, Visual Vocal, Visual Instrumental, Background Vocal, Background Instrumental, or Logo).
A cue sheet generally serves five purposes:
- Notification to composers, lyricists, arrangers and publishers that musical compositions have been synchronized in programming or advertising.
- Verification that synchronizations comply with the terms of the appropriate licenses.
- Registration of musical compositions with performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
- Crediting and payment of domestic and international royalties triggered by the reproduction and distribution of programming and advertising.
- Crediting and payment of domestic and international public performance royalties triggered by the broadcast or transmission of programming and advertising.