Songtrust’s mission is to enable songwriters and other rightsholders to collect all of the publishing royalties their songs earn. We do that not only with our best-in-class administration service, but also with our educational resources that help creators understand their rights and how to manage them.
That said, we represent over 350,000 songwriters, and we’re limited in how much we know about each of you. We collect the information we need to do our job: your name, IPI number, PRO affiliation, and a lot of specifics about your individual songs (shares, co-writers, and recording data for starters), but beyond what you’ve earned so far with us, your client service history, and your email address, we don’t need to know much about you as a business person or you as a performer to register your songs and collect your global publishing royalties.
But we want to know more. It’s important that we understand who our clients are, what they find most valuable about our service, what they wish we could do for them, and how they use our educational resources. It’s also useful to know things like how many of you are first and foremost producers (or performing artists, or singer-songwriters, or beatmakers…), how many of you are touring musicians, how many of you are artist representatives rather than (or in addition to) artists yourselves.
We invited some clients to take part in a client survey last year to learn just that - and more. And we think the results are so interesting that we wanted to share them with you.
Location: New York City (our hometown) is the place where we have the most clients, with Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami rounding out the top five. But we also have growing numbers of clients in Lagos, Nigeria; Sydney, Australia; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, among other global cities. Watch this space: the map will continue to grow and diversify as we keep educating songwriters around the world about their publishing rights
Age: While the biggest age group of respondents was 25-34 years old, we had an even distribution among other age groups - and we were happy to see a significant representation among 65+ clients. Music is for life - and so are your songwriter rights! (Longer, actually.)
Diversity: Songtrust is focused on reaching every music creator who can use our services. Of those who answered the question about ethnicity, about 40% of our client base identifies as Black, 40% as white, about 15% Latinx, and the remaining 5% Middle Eastern, AAPI, Indigenous American, or Native Hawaiian. This group looks diverse on the face of it: but we also learned that over 80% of our clients are male-identified, with 16% female and about 1% non-binary (the remainder chose not to answer the question). This means we have our work cut out for us. Not only do we need to ensure that our commitment to diversity reaches more creators in those race and ethnicity groups that are underrepresented among our clients, but we need to reach out to more women in music more effectively and communicate to them about their rights, why they could benefit from professionalizing with an organization like Songtrust, and ensuring they have access to our resources. This is a bigger conversation than Songtrust, but we’re definitely part of it.
Time Making Music: Our clients are committed! The largest group of respondents reported that they’d been making music for 11-20 years - and the second-biggest group was those who have been creating for over 20 years.
Professional Relationships: Almost 3/4 of Songtrust clients are fully independent, but 26% of respondents said they’ve signed with a record label. And almost the same number - 24% - had worked with another publisher before joining Songtrust.
Streaming: Whether with a label or independently, almost everyone - 94% - has their music streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and other services, and 82% said that North America is where they earn their most streaming revenue.
Now, here’s where we can do some interesting analysis. We asked our clients how much they earn on a yearly basis from their music - that’s everything: publishing, master royalties, merch, touring, #sponcon, Cameo - everything.
Overall, most Songtrust clients, like most of the world’s musicians, don’t earn a living from their music: the biggest earnings bucket was the $0-5000 earners. While correlation doesn’t equal causation, we noticed some interesting trends correlating to our respondents’ reported earnings:
- Those clients who considered themselves to be “Knowledgeable” or “Expert” level around music publishing, on the whole, were increasingly more likely to earn over $25K/year from their music career. (Those making over $100K per year were, unsurprisingly, nearly 10x as likely to be “Expert” level in publishing than the average respondent.)
- The takeaway: On one hand, you will naturally learn more about the business as you become successful about those rights that are relevant to you. But on the other, you are more likely to make advantageous business decisions that influence your earnings positively down the line, if you know your rights to begin with.
- Clients who responded “yes” to “Are you a touring artist” were 4.3x more likely to earn between $50-100K per year from music, and 3x more likely to earn $25K-$50K Those who answered “no” were about 1.5x more likely to be in that $0-5K bucket.
- The takeaway: Touring can be not only a direct revenue source for musicians, but a key means of promotion for streaming music and physical merch sales. Those who get out on the road earn more overall.
- No surprises here, but anyone who answered “No” to “Is your music on Spotify or Apple Music,” was 1.3x more likely to be in the lowest earnings bucket. Similarly, respondents with “Little to No” music publishing knowledge were likelier in that earnings group.
- The takeaway: This isn’t bad news! Those who haven’t released their music to streaming platforms yet can do so - and are likely to see earnings increase. And Songtrust makes our educational resources widely available - we suggest starting with our free Modern Guide to Music Publishing - to get you to the “Knowledgeable” and eventually “Expert” levels as you keep learning.
How You Feel About Us
Naturally, we wanted to know more about your experience with Songtrust, and your favorite - and least favorite - things about working with us. Our goal is to make sure we keep the good stuff, and update the not-so-good.
Most of you said that you would be likely to recommend Songtrust to a friend or colleague. And for that, we thank you! Those of you who had positive feedback were most likely to mention our educational resources and webinars, our client representatives (it’s true; they do rock - as so many of you noted), and how easy our platform is to use.
As for the negatives? The number-one most cited issue people have with our service is one that we agree with you on: publishing royalties take too long to collect! We know that it’s a waiting game once you register your songs, knowing you have X number of streams out there that you are owed money for. And our expert team are using all of our proprietary tools - which we’re always improving! - to get your songs registered and collecting worldwide as quickly as possible. But the nature of publishing is such that it can still take 9-12 months before you start earning royalties - you can read more specifics about that on our blog.
Take control of your publishing. Maximize Songtrust for your songs and business.
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.