Things every songwriter should know!
So you write your own music and you put together a little band. You have started playing around and decide to take it to the next level.
You may then decide to record a few of your songs. Maybe put them on ReverbNation.com, SoundCloud.com or any number of Internet related music sites.
Some common and obvious questions may arise.
Things like, Should I try to get an agent? Do I need to have a website?
Where can I get a good recording done for a decent price? How do I promote my band?
Hopefully this article will answer some of those questions and/or point you in the directions towards realizing your ultimate goal.
The following is some basic information I think every artist must understand.
First of all, I do not think copyrights are as important for small bands as people might think. The moment you release an original song you wrote on the Internet, it is automatically copyrighted. This is the same as taking it to a notary as in the old days.
Second, wait until your song starts getting some attention before worrying about copyright and royalties. The important part of releasing a song is to be rewarded with future financial benefits. This must be done correctly to ensure you are paid as well as to be taken seriously as a professional new artist. Until your royalty rights are set up you will not be able to collect monies or be considered legit.
In the next few paragraphs I have provided a helpful breakdown of potential royalties you can expect to receive as a songwriter.
In the music world there is a split between the publisher and the writer(s) of a song. Make sure all the writers who need to receive a credit are listed when registering. There are different ways to get published but in this article I will be talking mainly about CD Baby Pro, which is an Admin Publisher.
There are numerous publishing options available. I found this to be the best option, especially since my band is on a very tight budget.
Whenever there is a public performance of your song you are entitled to a royalty. Say your song gets played on YouTube, on the radio, streaming from Pandora, Spotify, live concerts or other public venues, you are entitled to receive a royalty. Nice right? This is when you need to sign up with a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) such as BMI or ASCAP. They are required to charge fees for cover songs played in bars, coffee shops, restaurants or other public places. They “offer” a blanket license for such venues. This is what allows musicians to legally play cover songs.
Yeah, this stuff is real. This is what they are doing these days. The good part is they divvy up any monies collected and dispersed to all parties involved. You may want to take the time to do a bit of research on the differences between the PRO’s due to the fact that in the United States you can only belong to one of these organizations.
Whenever a company like ITunes or Spotify sell and/or stream your song, you as songwriter are due money. If someone wants to cover your song they have to pay you 9.1 cents per download or sales. It is a little more complicated for the streaming, however you also get paid for that too. This is called a “Compulsory Mechanical License” fee. You can pay for a license to any song by any artist simply by paying a this sort of fee. Some of the companies used to handle these types of royalties include:
Harry Fox Agency, Songfile and Loudr. In order to legally record a cover song you are required to register with one of these kinds of agencies.
This is used when a TV show, movie or video etc. wanted to use your song in their production. The person who did the recording and the publisher make a deal for the rights to use your composition. It becomes a bit complicated but I will get more in depth on the subject at a later time.