File Under: Getting Your Music Heard, Creating and Making Your Music, Understanding Your Legal Rights

Last week we introduced 28 categories of places to get your music heard. But before you go out and your music into the world publicly, there are a few critical points that you must do before you release any of your songs:

1. Make Sure that Your Music is Encoded Properly and Fully Tagged.

Sites that allow you to upload music all will instruct you on the optimal encoding and formats they want you to use for their sites when posting. While many will accept uploads of varying quality, it’s up to you to make your music sounds good. For example, YouTube re-encodes the audio on their site. If your original source audio you upload to YouTube comes from an MP3 rather than a WAV file, it will get encoded twice -- which degrades the quality of the sound and reflects poorly on your music.

Secondly, if the site allows you to upload MP3 files, make sure you fully fill out the MP3 ID3 tags so your fans music players displays the correct info -- your artist name, track name, album, your website, contact info, and more so that they can find more about you if they decide they want more music.

2. Consider Registering Your Copyright.

Posting your music to sites for distribution to the public and getting song plays from services can be considered a “publication” of the song under US copyright law. This means that you have three months to register your copyright from the initial date of publication, or you’ll lose some statutory protections for your music. The law considers hitting that "upload" button as a release to the public, so you should properly protect your music.

You should also consider properly registering your track with your Performance Rights Organization (PRO), such as ASCAP or BMI, so that you can get royalties if it gets played and performed after you publish it. There’s a lot to copyright and royalties, so check out the details in The Indie Band Survival Guide (Second Edition) under the “Your Rights” chapter.

3. Read the Fine Print to See What Rights You're Granting.

Sites that distribute your music always have you agree to a user agreement that gives the website some rights to your music. Sometimes you may not agree with giving all those rights away. For example, some terms may be inconsistent with what you plan to do with your music in the future. Some of the rights that they ask you to grant them are "in perpetuity" (which means forever). Some terms may bar you from revoking uses of your music that you disagree with or that allows them to make money from your music in other ways in the future. It might also stop you from being able to make an exclusive agreement for your music in the future, since the website or service might always have rights from then on. The terms and conditions that any site offers you matters, so read them carefully and know what they are getting from you -- don’t just blindly click "I Agree."

If you follow these preparation steps before you push your music so it gets heard publicly, you will not only be creating the best-sounding music you can, but you’ll have all your music properly tagged and protected.This will give you confidence that you have done what you need to when you tackle getting your music heard in the 28 categories outlined in our article last week.


#getheard #copyright #legal #yourmusic #termsandconditions

Photo Credit: Lazurite