Note: This is part 4 of a multi-part series called “Music Publishing Money Explained”. For the first article in the series, please click here, for the second article, please click here, and for the third article, please click here. Today, we cover all the ways to retrieve your music revenue.
RECAP: The Two Copyrights, Mechanical Royalties & Neighboring Rights, and Publishing Companies
Okay, so in part 1 of this series, we did a deep dive into copyrights, what they mean, and how they get you money from your music. If you missed part 1, here is a quick recap of the two copyrights associated with music and what they mean:
- The Composition Copyright protects the underlying music in a song, aka the lyrics and melody, and is owned by the composers, songwriters, and lyricists. The organizations that collect the Performance Royalties for Composition Copyright holders are called Performance Rights Organizations, or PROs.
- The Sound Recording Copyright protects the recording of the song, and is owned by the performers, producers, and audio engineers. The Record Royalties, also known as Master Royalties, are collected by distributors or record labels.
In part 2 of this series, we went into Mechanical Royalties & Neighboring Rights, which are the two ways that the Composition Copyright and the Sound Recording Copyright interact and “overlap” with each other. If you missed part 2, here’s a quick recap of what Mechanical Royalties & Neighboring Rights are:
- Mechanical Royalties are a small portion of money generated from the Sound Recording Copyright that are paid out to the owner(s) of the Composition Copyright. This money is collected and paid out to your publishing company or publishing entity by four organizations: Harry Fox Agency (HFA), Music Reports Inc (MRI), Medianet, and The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC).
- Neighboring Rights are a portion of money generated from the Composition Copyright (via public performance, broadcast, or digital performance) that are paid out to the performers and owners of the Sound Recording Copyright. In the U.S. we do not have laws that recognize traditional Neighboring Rights. Sound Recording Copyright holders and performing artists can collect their digital performance royalties portion of Neighboring Rights from an organization called SoundExchange.
In part 3 of this series, we looked at Publishing Companies and how publishing helps you get all of your royalties. If you missed part 3, here’s a quick recap of what publishing is and what publishing companies do:
- Music Publishing began with printed sheet music back in the 15th century, and expanded into the areas of sync licensing, mechanical licensing, and performance (including public performance, digital performance, and broadcast) with the advent of recorded music.
- Publishing Companies are in the business of monetizing and maximizing the use of musical compositions in exchange for all or a small percentage of the money generated from the Publisher’s Share of The Composition Copyright. Many times songwriters, composers, and lyricists will sign a publishing deal, where they will sign away the rights to all or part of their Publisher’s Share in exchange for services provided by the publishing company. Administration deals, however, don’t include signing away any ownership, but they do take a small percentage of the money generated from the publisher’s share.
We created a little chart that may help visualize everything we’ve discussed thus far:
So alright, now that we’ve made it through 3 parts of this series, let’s break down the subject that we’re all really here for: THE MONEY
So How Do I Make Sure I Retrieve All This Revenue?
Unfortunately, when it comes to the music business, things aren’t as simple as releasing a song and immediately getting paid. There are a lot of organizations you need to make sure you’re signed up and registered with so you can get all the royalties that are owed to you. To make things a little bit more simple, we’re gonna make a list of all the places you need to make sure you’re signed up with to make sure you’re getting all of your money:
Distribution Company or Record Label
- As we covered in part 1 of this series, a distribution company or record label will collect all of the money generated from the Sound Recording Copyright. This includes money generated from album sales, digital downloads, and sales equivalents made from interactive streaming.
- A record label will take ownership of your Sound Recording Copyright, while distribution companies allow you to keep your ownership while only charging a small fee for their services.
- If you want your money generated from your Sound Recording Copyright, you’ll need to sign up for one of these services.
Performing Rights Organization (PRO)
- As we also covered in part 1 of this series, a Performing Rights Organization, or PRO, helps you collect money generated from the Composition Copyright in the form of public performance, broadcast (included under public performance), and digital public performance (from streaming).
- There are 5 PROs here in America: ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GMR, and Alltrack. SESAC and GMR are invite-only, whereas ASCAP and BMI are open to the public, making these 2 the largest and most popular choices for PROs here in the States (Alltrack, while also open to the public, is less well known since they are much smaller and newer than ASCAP or BMI). Other notable PROs include SOCAN (Canada), PRS (U.K.), APRA (Australia), and GEMA (Germany). For links to more info about PROs around the world, check here and here.
- You need to make sure you’re signed up with one PRO as both a writer AND a publisher in order to collect all of your royalties. A writer’s account only gets you half of your performance royalties and NONE of your mechanical royalties, so signing up as a publisher is important!
Mechanical Collection Societies
- In part 2 of this series, we broke down mechanical royalties, which are a small portion of the money generated from the Sound Recording Copyright that is paid out to your publishing entity or publishing company.
- There are 4 societies here in America that collect your mechanical royalties: Harry Fox Agency (HFA), Music Reports (MRI), Medianet, and The MLC. It’s important that you sign up for ALL of these services since they all collect mechanical royalties from different platforms. For example, TikTok and Tidal go through Music Reports for their licenses, so if you only sign up for Harry Fox Agency you’ll be missing mechanical royalties generated from those platforms.
- Also, you have to sign up for these organizations as a publishing entity or publishing company since mechanical royalties are only paid to the publisher’s share, which is another reason why it’s important to make sure you sign up for your PRO as both a writer and a publisher.
- Each country handles mechanical royalties a little bit differently, so be sure to check which organization(s) in your territory or country collect your mechanical royalties. The AIMP has a link to various international collection societies which you can check out here.
Neighboring Rights Organizations
- As we covered in part 2 of this series, we broke down neighboring rights, which are the royalties generated from the public, broadcast, and digital performance of the Sound Recording Copyright that are paid to the performing artist(s) and Sound Recording Copyright holder.
- Since the U.S. doesn’t recognize full neighboring rights, there is one company that collects and pays the digital performance portion of neighboring rights royalties: SoundExchange. If you are an independent artist, you will need to sign up with SoundExchange as both a Performer and a Sound Recording Copyright Owner in order to get the full amount of neighboring rights royalties that are owed to you. SoundExchange will also collect applicable neighboring rights royalties in a number of countries internationally, so if you are in America, SoundExchange will have you covered for all of your neighboring rights royalties you’re eligible to receive.
- Similar to mechanical royalties, each country handles neighboring rights a bit differently. Most countries just have one organization that collects neighboring rights royalties, so be sure to check and see which organization collects these in your country or territory. PPL, which handles neighboring rights in the U.K., has a fairly comprehensive list of international neighboring rights organizations they have agreements with, which you can check out here.
Print & Sync Royalties
- In part 1 of this series we briefly touched on print and sync royalties. Print royalties are generated on the Composition Copyright side from the use of lyrics and music in sheet music or other types of printed form. Sync royalties, on the other hand, are generated on the Composition Copyright side from the use of a musical composition in film, tv, advertisements, or other form of audio-visual media.
- Unlike the rest of the royalties we’ve mentioned in this article thus far, print and sync royalties are paid from the company or organization using the song directly to the publishing company or publishing entity of the songwriters, lyricits, or composers. Basically, you don’t need to sign up with any particular organization for these royalties since this money is paid straight to you.
- However, there are some services such as MusixMatch and LyricFind where you can sign up as a publisher and collect print royalties from certain uses of your lyrics digitally, such as when your lyrics are used on streaming services or Facebook/Instagram. Also, there are some music library services for sync opportunities, such as Songtradr. These companies allow you to upload your music and pitch your songs through their site, and they will also collect money generated from these opportunities for a small fee.
As you can see, there are quite a lot of organizations you need to make sure you’re signed up and registered with in order to collect all of your money. However, these organizations only collect your money. At the end of the day, how much you’re getting from your music is up to you.
Making the Most Out of Your Music
At the end of the day, there are a TON of ways you can monetize your music that you may not even be aware of, and as an independent artist, every little bit counts. Here are just a few ways you can take your music a little bit further:
- One source of income that many creatives don’t take full advantage of is live performances. While a majority of income is gathered from guarantees or ticket sales from the venue, you can actually get performance royalties every time your song is performed live. If you’re signed up with ASCAP, you can provide your setlist and basic information and get performance royalties through their ASCAP OnStage service. BMI also pays these same royalties through their BMI Live service if you are a BMI writer and provide the same information about the show.
- Since COVID, live shows have been much more limited, so many artists have found new ways to monetize their performances via live streaming. While the particulars of licensing for performance royalties are still being debated to some degree, there are still platforms such as Twitch and Patreon that allow performers to accept donations through their sites. These sites also allow certain benefits for paying subscribers. YouTube also has a similar feature, as well as their BrandConnect service as part of their YouTube Partner Program that connects brands with content creators for sponsorships and advertising during their videos and live streams.
- Speaking of YouTube, they have a third stream of income beyond sound recording and performance royalties, which is their Content ID service. YouTube Content ID is a digital fingerprinting service that allows YouTube to identify videos that have used your music. In these cases, you can choose to monetize and share the ad revenue with the content creator of the video. This can be some nice additional income, especially if the video has a lot of views. Many distribution companies offer YouTube Content ID for an additional fee, but here at Bounce Gvng with our Gvng Music Distro service, we include it for free. You can find more info about Content ID here and here.
There are many ways to monetize your music, even beyond what we listed above. Artists and creatives are coming up with new and innovative ways to get out there and hustle their music every day. It takes a lot of work, especially when you’re independent and focused on making great music. That’s why having a team of some kind to help execute all of these things is essential to your success.
How We Can Help You Get That Revenue
Look, we get it. Here at Bounce Gvng, we’re all creatives ourselves, so we know that this business stuff doesn’t always come naturally. Some of the info we listed above might be new to some of you. At one point, it was new to us too, so that’s okay! At the end of the day, we want to help y’all understand this industry stuff so you can get the most out of your music, because we believe that there is more than enough success to go around for everybody. However, it is a LOT, which is why we put in the work and built this platform to provide the tools and resources that creatives like us need for success.
Our Gvng Music Distro service allows you to get your music in digital stores and streaming services all around the globe. We help you collect all of the money generated from the Sound Recording Copyright, and you get 100% of the royalties. We also have a few Distro Plus packages where we go beyond simple distribution. This includes mastering, pitching for sync opportunities, and registering your music so it can qualify for charting on Billboard and radio among other perks. For more info on these, check out our pricing page here.
With our publishing administration services here at Gvngaroo Publishing, all you have to do is sign up and register your works ONE time with us, and we make sure that your works are registered with all U.S. collection societies, as well as with collection societies around the globe, that way you’re not missing any of your royalties. This includes public performance, broadcast (included under public performance), digital public performance (from streaming), and mechanical royalties, which collectively could be a lot of money! Plus, we know it can be a hassle signing up with all these different collection societies we listed above and registering every song with each of them every single time. That’s why we made it easy and convenient to register your works and collect your money, all while retaining ownership. We just take a small fee that actually decreases over time if you choose to stay with us. Pretty dope right? More info can be found at the bottom of our pricing page here.
So basically, do you want to get the most out of your music and retrieve all this revenue? Then you need to make sure you’re signed up and registered with all the collection societies we listed above. However, if that’s just too much to handle all at once, we’re here to help with our distro and pub admin services. Because at the end of the day, it’s your money, and we want to help you maximize all of your earnings and get all that you’re owed.
Thanks for following this 4-part series on Music Publishing Money Explained! We have more exciting publishing content coming every Wednesday, so be sure to stay tuned!