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I've Written a Song, Now What?

Picture of Chantelle St. Clair
2 minute read

Creators often overlook the critical steps that come after writing and recording a song, but it’s a major part of defining yourself as more than just a mere writer or musician. While tedious, getting things organized early on can save you hours of work down the road. 

Organize Your Song's Information

Start by creating a lyric sheet containing such key details as contact information and the date your work was created. Aside from being a simple way of sharing your lyrics, it can be used by your label or music supervisor to help find you sync placements.

If there are multiple writers on a song, be sure to fill out and sign a split sheet so that it’s clear who will receive what when you start collecting royalties. Knowing where all your original information is, and having copies in case another party ever needs it, is a good business practice worth getting used to. 

Another element to keep in mind is electronic press kits (aka EPKs) for labels, creative briefs, and sync placements. This includes everything from your press photos and bio to tour dates and music samples. Prepare yourself now, so you’re ready to rock as your exposure increases.  

Build Out Your Team

Step one is finding a distributor which is an essential step towards monetizing your music. A distributor is basically the middleman between you and your audience. They typically take a cut of your profits and pass the rest back to you when your song sells. Each distributor has a different way of doing things, so make sure you compare and contrast all the options that are out there. Find the best way to spread the word by knowing who your audience is and how much you’re willing to spend to reach it. 

Step two is affiliating with a collection society, which sets you up for step three, setting up your publishing. When you create a composition, you own the rights to it, which are broken down into a writer’s share and publisher’s share. A publisher redistributes your royalties after collecting them from Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), Collective Management Organizations (CMOs), and Mechanical Rights Organizations (MROs). 

It’s good to know the pros and cons of different publishing deals before you sign. Rather than going with the first one you come across, make sure you’re getting the best possible agreement and a dedicated team. The worst thing would be feeling like a cog in a company that’s too big to keep up with you. When you sign up with Songtrust, you’re gaining a tight-knit group of experts and seasoned advocates who will help register your songs with more than sixty sources worldwide. To learn more about publishing, check out a closer look at the differences between administrative, co-publishing, and work-for-hire deals here

And lastly, step four is signing up to collect your digital performance royalties. In the U.S., this is done by SoundExchange, but may vary depending on territory and country. 

The Final Details

Everything you’ve done up until now has laid the foundation for success as you grow as a songwriter and business person. You’ve done your homework and put a solid digital strategy in place; now you’re ready to take your tracks to another level. Don’t forget to share your songs with friends and family to get honest feedback, and network with more experienced writers who probably went through all of this already. 

If you’re comfortable with being on stage, set up some gigs and get your songs heard live. More importantly, find out all the ways you can earn revenue off your songs, and make sure you’re submitting your setlist to your PRO or CMO so that they can help you collect royalties off your gigs. 

Even better: Create a list of ways you can monetize your songs, including making a viral music video, pitching sync placements and record labels, and turning your tracks into ringtones.  

If you want to profit off your hard work, you need to do your research and be prepared. Making sure you’re properly registered with PROs and uploading your songs to popular streaming platforms is only part of the bigger picture. Set yourself up for success with a well-rounded strategy so you can focus on what is most important to you: writing and creating music. 

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You've finished your song, now what? Use this checklist to find out what you should tackle next, both on the business side and the creative side.

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