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From collection to distribution


Income distribution

Sena manages the rights of over 33,000 musicians and producers who are registered with Sena.  These music creators are entitled to payment when their music is played in a commercial setting. We regularly receive questions about the where the money comes from and what Sena does with income we collect. In this section, we focus on some of the most commonly asked questions.

This time we cover how Sena distributes the licence income from the playlists to the songs and then on to the musicians and producers.

There are a couple of questions to consider:

  • When are you entitled to payment from Sena as a musician or producer (i.e. a rightsholder)?
  • How is Sena's income distributed from the playlists to the songs and on to the rightsholders?

In this final section on income sources, we’ll take a closer look at the second question: we explain how Sena's money is distributed from the playlists to the songs and then to the rightsholders. If you want to know more about when you are entitled to payment from Sena, take a quick look at part 4.

1. Media

Media can be divided into 4 categories:
1) Radio stations and television channels
2) Cable distributors
3) Background music suppliers (narrowcasters)
4) Webcasters

The direct income from the radio and television stations is added directly to the playlists from the respective broadcasters (you can find more information about the broadcasters here). We use this to distribute the licence fee income to rightsholders. The licence income from the cable distributors is added to this on a pro rata basis, and the number of music minutes from the playlists is used to create a distribution key. We call this the 'allocation'.

The direct income from the background music suppliers (also called narrowcasters) is also added directly to the playlist of the narrowcaster in question.

The licence fees paid by webcasters are distributed based on a file containing download data purchased annually from research company Intomart Gfk.

2. General licences

General licences are split into:
1) Individual licences (e.g. cafes, shops and work premises)
2) Collective licences or centralised arrangements (agreements with trade organisations or companies with a large number of premises)

Unlike for radio and television stations, Sena does not receive playlists from music users for general licence income.  Instead, every six months, Intomart Gfk conducts a telephone survey with these users. This is a joint initiative by Sena and Buma/Stemra. Users are asked which source and station they are listening to. Based on this information, the income from the general licences is divided among the broadcasters whose playlists we process. This amount is the second part of the 'allocation'.

Bars and restaurants versus other categories
When calculating the second part of the allocation described above, a distinction is made between the hospitality industry and the other categories such as workplaces, gyms, etc. This breakdown is also reflected in the GfK research. The different shares from the survey are applied separately for both categories. This allocation is then added to the broadcaster playlists. These are basically the same playlists, except that music used as design music is not included in the payment for the bars and restaurants allocation.

Other general licences
Larger music users can also be music producers. They must first pay a licence fee to Sena, but they can also qualify to receive a distribution of this income, provided they meet two criteria. If a music user pays at least EUR 30,000 in licence fees for one specific location and can provide a complete playlist showing that the master rights for at least two thirds of the repertoire played is owned by the same music user, this playlist will be used. No allocations are added to this playlist.


Design music
Design music is understood to mean music that is used to identify and/or frame radio and television programmes and/or stations. This includes music that has been specially created as design music, as well as existing music used as described above. There is a 25% reduction in payment for design music.

Primetime versus non-primetime
Another factor in the distribution is the time of day that the song is broadcast on television. For national television stations, when the music is used is important. A distinction is made between primetime (between 18:00 and midnight) or non-primetime (between midnight and 18:00). The total licence agreement is distributed based on the ratio between the number of music minutes and the number of viewers.

4. Minute value of a song

When we have received the licence fee income and all the playlists, we combine the two and distribute the fees as described above to the playlists. The playlist is given a value in euros. The next step is to determine the number of eligible clicks with the suppliers of background music and the number of eligible minutes of the relevant radio station, internet or TV channel.

Once the value and the number of eligible music minutes/clicks is determined, then we can also determine the minute value of the playlists. The number of eligible minutes/clicks and the fees we can allocate to the channel fluctuate constantly. That is why the minute value of a playlist also fluctuates after each (daily) calculation. The value of that moment is taken at the time of settlement. However, the value can continue to fluctuate influenced by newly received licence income, changes or additional information about the songs. A year is closed after three years. So, the music year 2017 will be closed at the end of 2020.


After distributing the income to the songs on the playlists, the money must be further distributed to the rightsholders who played on the recording. Before distribution, an amount is reserved for joint SoCu projects. The money is then divided in two: 50% goes to the producers and 50% to the joint artists who participated in recording the track.

After a deduction of 3% for SoCu projects, the 50% share for artists is broken down further according to a set point system. Each main artist receives 5 points, the conductor 3 points and each studio musician 1 point per instrument up to a maximum of 3 points. This point system works slightly differently for popular music. The main artist always receives at least 50% of the fee for popular music, whereas there is no minimum for classical music.


The final step in the process is Sena's actual distribution to the rightsholders. We do this four times a year, in March, June, September and December. We distribute international payments with the same frequency; in principle, within six months of receipt. However, the net payment must be higher than the threshold amount of €5.00.


Music creators are entitled to money from Sena if they are affiliated with Sena, have registered their repertoire and if their music has been played in public. You can register your repertoire via our online portal MySena or using our app. You can also see how much money you can expect to receive in the next quarter, i.e. the amount of income currently reserved for you.