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HOW TO: Master Class: Credits Where Credits Are Due

May 26, 2016

When you release music, it’s natural to focus on registering it with revenue-generating sources like Performance Rights Organizations (PROs), SoundExchange, and services like YouTube’s ContentID. As we discussed in the Master Class article “Song Release Checklist,” doing so ensures you get all the royalties you’re owed. But taking advantage of these resources alone means you’re only doing half of your homework.

There’s another set of registrations you need to do to credit everyone who worked on your song properly. Who played which instrument? Who was the vocalist? Who wrote the lyrics? And who produced, engineered, and mastered it? To attach proper credits to your release requires registering with public database sources and uploading your credit information. Updating this information is important for historical and cultural reasons; it can also improve your credibility and visibility in the music industry; and it provides fans with ways to learn about you and discover the other music you make.

For instance, music distribution sources and media like Spotify, Apple Music, MTV, and iTunes pull credits from a specific set of databases. If your credit information isn’t in those databases, then you’re losing out because these services aren’t informing their customers and listeners who’s behind the music they’re enjoying. It’s ironic that in this information age, once we lost the physical record and CD, tracking the people behind the music became harder to do. As it’s often said, if the information in iTunes today was all of the credit information we had, we’d only know of a band called Led Zeppelin and wouldn’t know anything about a guitarist named Jimmy Page.

But registering song credits is not just about music distribution. Music industry associations—such as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), which honors talent every year via the Grammys—rely on credit information in these databases. If your credit information and history aren’t there, then you lose out. Plus, credit information can let licensors know who you are so they know whom to contact to license your music.

Registering your credits for an album is not difficult and can be done in an evening; you just need to get organized and collect all of the information needed. Read on to find out which credits you should track, the various databases and services where you should register, and the information each one covers so you’ll know what to provide for each.

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