File Under: Understanding Your Legal Rights
There are 7 registrations you should do each time you release music into the world as we talked about in the Electronic Music article Song Release Checklist. Doing so ensures you get all the royalties you have available to you and protects your music. Five of them are free, but the two that you need to register with the copyright office--Performing Arts (PA) and Sound Recording (SR)--have a fee. These registrations are important because they drive What You Own & What You Can Earn From Your Music.
Note that if you'd like to know how to perform the registration process, we like the excellent Lynda course Music Law: Copyrighting a Song by Richard Stim.
But the key with making a successful music business is to pay as little as possible (or $0 if you can, since even marketing can be free if you do it right). Fortunately, there's 3 easy tips that you can use today to save money when you register your copyrights:
1. Be smart about what you register.
There's no question that you should register your songs at all of the free options such as PROs and SoundExchange for your music. But when it comes to the cost of covering the copyright registration, it may not be worth it to cover all of your music -- especially if you generate a lot of it. Remember, you automatically have a copyright in each for free the second you hit stop on your DAW. Registration just gives you more protection. For instance, if you register within three months of publication, you are allowed lawyers fees and punitive damages if you win a suit. That might not be as big a deal as it sounds. You're not too likely to go to court even if you find someone who is infringing anyway. You are best off registering the copyrights of your major releases, and, if you make a lot of music, choosing the ones that have the best potential of success otherwise or group them together and use #2 below.
2. Register as many at once as you can.
You can register a large number of songs all at once which can help reduce the cost. This means if you do generate a lot of music, finish as many as possible well before release, and register them all under the same application fee. Note that for this to work, you need to have the same copyright owner for each song being bundled together. So the idea is to make groups of songs by the same copyright holders as much as possible. If you think about it, the more you can register at once, the cheaper it is per-song.
3. Register SR and PA at the same time.
As it explains in Music Law: Copyrighting a Song, you can use the Sound Recording (SR) form to register both the SR and PA copyrights if they have the same owner. This is not only simpler to do, it saves you a second copyright fee (the one you'd use for the PA form) by doing both at once.
If you plan your year out right, you should group your licensing, copyright, and registrations all at once to get them done efficiently and to plan them out to pay the least amount of fees you can.
Challenge: Next time you register a copyright, use the methods above to group your songs together and pay as little as possible.
- Music Law: Copyrighting a Song
- Here’s What You Own & What You Can Earn From Your Music
- Starting A Music Business For $0
- The Indie Band Survival Guide (Remixed & Remastered: Second Edition)
- Making Money With Music (15-hour Online Course)
#copyright #registration #licensing #royalties #savingmoney
Photo credit: Copyright Symbols