Music is a powerful medium. It can touch people in a special way, evoking various emotions and causing some individuals to take action regarding different causes. Songwriters play a major part in creating such influential music. Sadly, without the proper copyrights in place, many songwriters do not receive their credit, and without royalty collections set up, they do not receive payment from their hard work either. Check out the following tips that every songwriter should adhere to.
1. Do Your Research
There is a popular saying that “knowledge is power.” This is very true when it comes to songwriters’ rights and responsibilities. A simple internet search on “songwriter responsibilities” or “how to protect my songs” can provide them with a great amount of information and possible tools to assist them with protecting their lyrics and money.
2. Understand Splits
Particularly when it comes to royalties, there are a few splits that songwriters need to understand. A song is composed of two parts:
Each portion is worth 50 percent of the song. Therefore, if a songwriter just writes the lyrics, he receives credit for 50 percent of the song; however, a songwriter who writes the lyrics and music receives 100 percent of the credit for the song.
Once a song is created, it is usually distributed by individuals with publishing rights. All individuals with publishing rights, or rights to distribute the song, receive part of the proceeds from distribution. The split for publishing is as follows:
In some cases, such as with a record label, one source can have all rights to publishing. However, a savvy songwriter may retain a percentage of the rights to distribute a song by establishing a “vanity” publishing company and negotiating with the main publisher. This will not only give the songwriter the ability to distribute his own music, but it will also increase the amount he is paid in royalties.
3. Select Your PRO
There are three Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) that monitor the performances and plays of registered songs and collect payment. The three organizations are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Though songwriters essentially copyright their songs the moment they write them, registering songs with a PRO serves as somewhat of a second source for copyrighting. It is important for songwriters to fully research each organization to determine the best choice for their particular needs. After deciding upon a particular PRO, a songwriter must follow that organization’s process to register.
4. Register With SoundExchange
SoundExchange is an organization that monitors and collects royalties from the play of sound recordings on digital platforms. It is a non-profit organization that was set up by the government. Many songwriters do not realize that they leave themselves partially unprotected by just signing up with a PRO. Registering with both SoundExchange and a PRO ensures that songwriters’ songs are protected on all mediums. The registration process is simple and can be completed by filling out and submitting necessary documents online or through the mail.
5. Properly Report Songs
In order for songs to be tracked and for writers to be paid, songwriters must register their songs. Each organization has its own song registration process, which affiliates should become familiar with. Even if a song was previously released before it was registered, a PRO may be able to backdate it and collect payment for its usage.
6. Monitor Your Earnings
Each organization should provide statements of songs that have been tracked and collected for. It is a good practice for songwriters to review these statements and ensure that they are correct. If songwriters notice certain plays or performances have not been captured, it is their responsibility to submit a claim for payment.
Songwriters should receive full credit and payment for their work. Following these tips will help to make sure that happens.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.