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Here’s What You Own & What You Can Earn From Your Music

by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan
12/08/2015

File Under: Understanding Your Legal Rights, Getting Licensed and Generating Royalties, Building Your Music Business

The roles as defined by the traditional music industry still drive the income streams you can make from your music today. What most musicians find confusing is that each role used to be handled by separate people or, in some cases, organizations. But today, so many artists are independent and because of this, every role is likely handled just by you.

You’re the songwriter. You’re the artist. You’re the label. You’re the publisher.

Given you’re wearing these multiple hats, it’s good to know what money you can and should be making in each of these roles:

You as the Songwriter
As a songwriter you own the song (and should register the Performing Arts PA Copyright if it's copyrightable) which gets you:

  • Performance royalties every time your music is played (paid to you by Performance Rights Organization, “PRO”, if you’re registered as the “Songwriter”).

  • Mechanical royalties anytime your song is copied onto CDs, DVDs, Vinyl, or tapes (usually paid to you by the label creating these products) or anytime your song is covered or played by other artists.

  • Non-mechanical royalties anytime your song is made into sheet music (usually paid by publisher for creating copies of your song in paper-form)

  • Songwriter sync royalties when you license your music for any audiovisual work such as TV, video, or film (paid to you by whoever licenses your song for the audiovisual work they’re creating).

You as the Artist
As a performer you get:

  • Performance royalties when the song you performed on is streamed (paid to you by SoundExchange.com if you’re registered as a Featured Performer).

  • Paid for any live performances.

You as the Label

As the label you own the master recordings (and should register the Sound Recording SR Copyright) which gets you:

  • Sales revenue for selling copies of your sound recording either digitally or as physical product like CDs, Vinyl, or tape (which you may split with the artist).

  • Performance royalties every time your sound recording is streamed (paid to you by SoundExchange.com if you’re registered as the “Sound Recording Owner”).

  • Sync royalties when you license your sound recording for use in any audiovisual work such as in TV, commercials, videos, or film (paid to you by whoever licenses your song for the audiovisual work they’re creating).

You as the Publisher
As a publisher -- the person who is charged with promoting and placing songs in TV, video, commercials, film or getting other artists to record and cover it -- gives you:

  • Publisher performance royalties every time the song is played (paid to you by Performance Rights Organization, “PRO”, if you’re registered as the “Publisher”).

  • Sync royalties when you license the song for use in any audiovisual work such as in TV, commercials, videos, or film (paid to you by whoever licenses your song for the audiovisual work they’re creating).

Where these roles can get difficult is if you’re in a group rather than an individual artist. If that's the case, there are two decisions that need to be made and usually laid out in a contract. The first is deciding who will be getting the income each role generates. The second is to decide who has the responsibility to handle each role. This helps you to delegate. Because if no one takes on the publisher role in your group, for example, then that means no one is working to get the music placed in TV, video, or commercials and therefore the music won't generate sync or performance royalties for anyone -- songwriter, publisher, featured performer, or sound recording owner.

If you want to learn more about how best to generate the royalty, licensing, and sales revenue opportunities listed above, we detail it in our book The Indie Band Survival Guide (Remixed & Remastered: Second Edition) as well as in our online course, Making Money With Music.

Related:

#musicbusiness #roles #makingmoneywithmusic

Photo Credit: Wikipedia


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