Sometimes the business of being a songwriter or musician can seem overwhelming, an endless muddle of tasks ranging from registering with a PRO (performance rights organization) or CMO (collection management organization), and tracking royalties to negotiating contracts. The good news is that there’s one number that makes the important job of ensuring royalties end up in your pocket easier for all involved. It’s the IPI (Interested Party Information) number -- and chances are, you may already have one.
What is an IPI number?
An IPI is a nine-digit number that acts as an identification number assigned to songwriters and publishers by their PROs to identify them as rights holders. It is used worldwide by more than 120 countries and three million right holders, so an IPI number is vital in identifying you for royalty payments anywhere your music might be played. Previously, it was known as a CAE (Composer, Author, Editor (aka Publisher)) number, but in October 2001 it was changed to IPI. Sometimes the number is referred to as a CAE/IPI number to avoid any confusion, so keep an eye out for the variation.
An IPI is assigned to every writer or publisher in the world who is affiliated with a collection society. The number, unique to you, is assigned when you become a writer or publisher member. There are several things that are important to know about an IPI, so don’t assume this is just a number that can be shoved to the back of your filing drawer and forgotten. It is important to keep handy, especially if you’re a songwriter who collaborates on music with other songwriters -- and it’s a good idea to get the IPI of anyone you write with while you’re working with them so you aren’t delayed in submitting the information to a collection society at a later date. The number is critical to making sure you (and your collaborator) get paid when your song is being used and is earning royalties.
What does my IPI do for me?
Because many songwriters don’t know what an IPI is, they often shrug it off when filling out forms or assume it’s the same as their PRO/CMO membership number (such as the one you might use for ASCAP, BMI, or SOCAN). It’s not the same, and if you already have an IPI when you sign up with a collection society, you will need to submit it so that your publishing can be properly managed. If you don’t know your IPI but are a member of a collection society, you can easily search for your IPI number which is available in the repertoires of ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and any other collection societies.
If your IPI seems like a long string of numbers, don’t fret. If you see your IPI with two zeros in front of it on your collection society’s website, you can simply omit those zeroes when entering the IPI into any music distributing websites, like CD Baby.
While you may never need to know the difference, if you write using a pseudonym you may end up with two IPI numbers -- an IPI Name Number and an IPI Base Number. The name number is code for a name or pseudonym related to an entity (Prince, for example, has the IPI codes for Prince, Nelson Prince Rogers, and Nelson Prince R.). The base number is the code for a person or legal entity. The name number is made up of 11 numbers, while the base number includes a letter.
Remember - the IPI number is just one more tool - like membership in a collection society or global royalty collection source like Songtrust -- that makes it easier for you to get paid. Don’t let it get lost in the muddle.
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We created this guide to answer a simple question: How do songwriters support themselves?
The answer is not as simple as we’d like, but our goal is to make it as clear, transparent and understandable as we possibly can.
Songtrust is more than just a rights management platform and publishing administrator - we’re a team of experts in the music community who strive to educate, support, and provide thought leadership to creators, representatives, and businesses across the music industry.
Our hope is that you’ll finish this guide with an better understanding of the business behind songwriting and have actionable resources to help you be successful.