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….

Step 1- Join a Performance Rights Organization

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

Step 3- Sign up with a digital music distributor

Step 4- Register with SoundExchange or a Neighbouring Rights Organization

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

Step 6- Download and print your Music Royalties Cheat Sheet (reference CP014)

We’re going to cover each step in detail but first, let’s make sure we understand what you’re selling when you’re selling music.

— You’re selling two types of products —

Compositions

and

Sound Recordings

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…..

— Each product can be used in two different ways —

Performed in public

and

Copied for private use

2 products x 2 types of usage

=

4 royalty streams

⇓ ⇓ ⇓

Music royalties breakdown

Understanding the Music Royalties Breakdown Matrix

If your products are played in public, you’re entitled to performance royalties. Refer to boxes 1 and 4 above.

If your products are copied for private use, you’re entitled to mechanical royalties. Refer boxes 2 and 3 above.

If you want to make money from your SOUND RECORDINGS, focus on the YELLOW boxes above.

If you want to make money from your COMPOSITIONS, focus on the BLUE boxes above.

Make sense?

Ok, maybe not yet….

Let’s take it step by step.

STEP 1 – Collect performance royalties related to your compositions.

Music royalties breakdown - step 1

When can you collect performance royalties on your compositions?

You can collect performance royalties on your compositions when one of your compositions is played in public.

For example, during a live performance, on the radio, on TV or in movie theaters outside the U.S.

What do you need to do to collect performance royalties on your compositions?

Join a Performance Rights Organization and/or an admin publishing company.

For example, ASCAP or BMI in the US, SOCAN in Canada, PRS in the UK, SACEM in France, etc.

Pro tip: if you choose to work with an admin publishing company (see step 2), you can actually skip this part and let THEM handle this registration process.

STEP 2 – Collect mechanical royalties related to your compositions.

Music Royalties Breakdown - step 2

When can you collect mechanical royalties on your compositions?

You can collect mechanical royalties on your compositions every time a composition is copied for private use.

For example, every time it’s streamed on demand on Spotify or Apple Play, or purchased and downloaded on Amazon or iTunes, or pressed on a physical CD or DVD.

What do you need to do to collect mechanical royalties on your compositions?

If you’re outside the US, you’ll need to find out if there’s a local mechanical royalty collection society in your country.

Examples of mechanical royalty collection companies include MCPS in the UK, SOCAN in Canada and SACEM in France.

You’ll notice that the French and Canadians only have to register to one organization to collect both performance and mechanical royalties for songwriters and publishers.

Pro tip: if you’re not sure if there’s a mechanical royalty collection society in your country, ask your PRO. They should know!

If you’re in the US, you’ll want to use an admin publishing company.

Examples of music publishing administration companies:

Pro tip: if you have a publishing company, you may want to apply to The Harry Fox Agency instead. Just make sure you meet their requirements before you spend