In the age of digital music, where streaming platforms have become the primary source of music consumption, ensuring that artists receive their rightful royalties is paramount. For independent musicians, navigating the complex world of music royalties can be daunting. However, with the right tools and knowledge, it’s possible to ensure that you’re collecting the majority of both local and international streaming payments. Here’s a four-step guide to copywriting your music using DistroKid, BMI, ASCAP, SoundTrust, and SoundExchange.
1. Understand the Different Types of Royalties
Before diving into the specifics of each platform, it’s essential to understand the different types of royalties:
- Mechanical Royalties: Generated when a song is reproduced, such as in CDs, vinyl, or digital downloads.
- Performance Royalties: Earned when a song is performed publicly, be it on radio, TV, live concerts, or streaming platforms.
- Synchronization Royalties: Earned when a song is used in other media, like movies, TV shows, or commercials.
2. Choose the Right Platform for Your Needs
- DistroKid: Primarily a music distribution service, DistroKid allows artists to upload their music to major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. While at this writing, DistroKid only collects streaming and not the performance and mechanical royalties, it ensures your music reaches the widest audience, increasing potential royalty earnings.
- BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers): These are two of the most prominent Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) in the U.S. They collect and distribute performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers. While both serve the same purpose, they have different membership structures and fee models. It’s essential to research both to determine which is the best fit for you.
- SongTrust: This platform focuses on mechanical royalties. If your music is being reproduced and sold, SoundTrust ensures you receive the mechanical royalties you’re owed.
- SoundExchange: Unlike the PROs, SoundExchange collects and distributes digital performance royalties for featured artists and copyright holders when their music is played on digital radio, like Pandora or SiriusXM.
3. Register Your Music
Once you’ve chosen the platforms that align with your needs:
- DistroKid: Simply sign up, pay the annual fee, and start uploading your tracks. They’ll distribute your music to various streaming platforms, ensuring maximum reach.
- BMI or ASCAP: After becoming a member, you’ll need to register each song individually. This ensures that when your music is played, the royalties are correctly attributed to you.
- SongTrust: Sign up, and register your catalog. They’ll then administer and collect mechanical royalties on your behalf.
- SoundExchange: Register as an artist or copyright holder. Once registered, they’ll ensure you receive royalties for plays on digital radio.
4. Don’t Overlook YouTube
YouTube is more than just a video platform; it’s a vital music streaming platform. With billions of users worldwide, it offers a significant opportunity for artists to earn royalties. Every time your music is played in a YouTube video, whether it’s your official music video, a fan-made video, or used as background music, you’re entitled to royalties.
To collect these royalties, you can use YouTube’s Content ID system, which identifies and tracks your music across the platform. DistroKid offers a service called “YouTube Money” that ensures you’re paid whenever your music is used on YouTube.
Navigating the world of music royalties can seem overwhelming, but with the right platforms and a clear understanding of the types of royalties, you can ensure you’re receiving the compensation you deserve. By utilizing DistroKid, BMI, ASCAP, SoundTrust, and SoundExchange, you can cover a vast majority of royalty collection avenues, both locally and internationally. And remember, in the digital age, platforms like YouTube are just as crucial for musicians. Ensure you’re maximizing your reach and potential earnings by embracing all these platforms offer.