Some thoughts from Emily, founder of ConnectsMusic “for my first album, I didn’t register it anywhere when it was released, I was new to what I was doing and just put my music out there and didn’t know if anyone would like it. Amazingly it got top ten listings on Amazon and iTunes, with quite a bit of radio play which blew me away.. but my music wasn’t registered. I didn’t realise the implication at the time, and lost about 3 years of radio play income from the entire album. Register, register, register – rights are everything in music. We create sounds, perform our hearts out, produce music, and registering our ownership of all that content is essential for us to be able to make an income out of the music we’ve created.”
“Register your music, saying who’s written it, who’s the rightholder, who’s played on every track. Then the rights collection agencies (PRS, PPL, MCPS, ASCAP etc) can aim to ensure everyone has their fair share of all content played on all media outlets (radio, TV, streaming etc), and also what’s played in public venues (both recorded and live), and this even counts for when you perform your own music in a venue. For example venues pay a PRS licence and are obliged to pay a proportional amount for each performance of each piece played. After every gig, for me, the job isn’t really over until the playlist inc composers are acknowledged with a Performing Rights Organisation (this is sometimes done via a venue or directly yourself), and this includes yourself if it’s your own material, so everyone gets their output share appropriately.”
“Every gig, every recorded release, every radio play, every performance – the whole lot is income for you and the colleagues you’re working and collaborating with.”
The guide below is for UK-registered music, but the principle is true for every country.
If you are a songwriter/composer:
To self-publish your music properly (so that you beneift from every time it is played and performed) you need to register it with a ‘Performing Rights Organisation’ (PRO). By doing this you can make money from your music, whether it’s from recorded output (eg: streaming/radio), or from live public performances such as a gig.
An example is the Performing Right Society (PRS) which is a UK’s Performing Rights Association. When you become a member, PRS collect royalties for you when your works are performed or communicated to the public.
Once you have registered with PRS you will receive a CAE number – this is your unique member number which you will need to register all works you’ve written/co-written.
You also need to register any recordings with the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), who administer the fees you receive on the physical sales, which includes download sales.
You’ll need to enter the following information to register a work:
You’ll be given a reference when you submit your work details, followed by a unique tune code for each work. This tunecode is important when submitting your music to distribution services (coming up in Part 2).
PRS is the main UK company to register your music with, however it may be good to research and consider other platforms.
If you are a performer:
If you are a session musician or perform your own work in your recordings, it’s advisable to register with PPL to receive your due payments from those releases. PPL and PRS for Music both license the use of music and collect royalties for the music industry, but each represents different rightsholders:
So, if you are have performed on a recording, PPL will pay you when that recording is broadcast (or played publically anywhere), regardless of who wrote it.
While this short guide is focussed on self-publishing in the UK, the same is true for all countries: each has their own Performing Rights Organisation.
It’s worth noting that by joining (to use the UK example) PRS and PPL, they will also collect any rights payment worldwide as Performing Rights Organisations’ have reciprocal arrangements with most other countries’ equivalents
You can find more information here:
PART 2: Distribution Services
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