Assuming you’re an independent songwriter with no record deal or publishing deal, this is what you need to do to collect all your music royalties:

— Collect Music Royalties Cheat Sheet —

Step 1- Join a Performance Rights Organization…

like ASCAP or BMI

….to collect the performance royalties related to your songwriting.

Step 2- Register with an admin publishing company or mechanical royalty collections society…

like Songtrust or MCPS

…to collect the mechanical royalties related to your songwriting.

Step 3- Sign up with a digital music distributor…

like Distrokid or CD Baby

…to collect the mechanical royalties related to your sound recordings.

Step 4- Register with SoundExchange or a Neighbouring Rights Organization…

like PPL or Re:Sound

…to collect the performance royalties related to your sound recordings.

Step 5- Check for unclaimed royalties in the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund…

…to collect royalties related to your performance as a background singer or musician on sound recordings.

Step 6- Signup for the Creative & Productive Library

…to download and print an extended Music Royalties Cheat Sheet (reference CP014) and receive more helpful music royalty information.

We’re going to cover each step in detail but first, we need to make sure we understand the two components of music copyright.

Why?

Because understanding music copyright is key to understanding music royalties and getting paid.

music copyright = music royalties = money in the bank

The Two Components of Music Copyright

There are two big types of copyright for music: the sound recording and the composition.

When a song is played on the radio or an album is sold, there are revenues attached to the song itself (the composition) and the recording of that song (the sound recording).

Now that’s clear, let’s have a look at how those two types of music copyright affect our music royalties…..

Music Royalties Breakdown Matrix

Music royalties breakdown
Music royalties = performance OR mechanical royalties (left) related to both the sound recording OR the underlying composition (top).

Make sense?

Ok, maybe not yet. So we’ll go into a little bit more detail now to explain what this matrix is all about and which organizations you need to join to make sure you get paid.

IMPORTANT – Music royalties can be a little overwhelming. If, at any point, you feel a little lost, print out your free Cheat Sheet (reference CP014) and take the time to go through it at your own pace.

Now, let’s do this!

Step 1- Join a Performance Rights Organization

Step 2- Register with an admin publishing company or a mechanical royalty collections company

SIDE NOTE – for indie artists who want to license their music

If you work or want to work with production music libraries, consider this carefully.

When they place your music, some libraries take a portion of the synchronization fee but no publishing share.

For those libraries, there would be no conflict with an admin publishing company because they don’t care that a publishing admin takes 15-20% of your publishing.

HOWEVER a lot of music libraries take a portion of the sync fee AND 100% of the publisher’s share when they place your music in a project.

You can’t work with THOSE music libraries AND an admin publishing company at the same time because you don’t have 115-120% of publishing to give away.

Step 3- Signup With A Digital Music Distributor

Step 4- Register with SoundExchange or a Neighbouring Rights Organization

Step 5- Check if you have any unclaimed music royalties with the AFM & SAG-AFTRA IPRD Fund.