Since joining Songtrust in December of last year, I’ve been on a lot of planes. Visiting Austin, London, Tallinn, Toronto, Nashville, Los Angeles, Cannes, Sydney, Adelaide, Singapore – and our team has been in even more places than that. Going out into the world and sharing our collective vision on how we can help songwriters and other rights holders collect the money they’re earning from the global music landscape is something I truly believe in and am excited to work on every day. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount and would like to share my experiences with my fellow songwriters.
The Client Perspective
I became a Songtrust client myself just under a year ago as well, and the learning I’ve done as both a songwriter and someone who has worked in music for over 25 years has been enlightening, empowering and, sometimes, shocking.
Shocking because the global landscape for music publishing royalties (as we cover in many different ways in the articles we generate for Songtrust.com) is arguably more complex than banking. Every country has different structures and regulations, organizations to facilitate the collection and accountability of the places music is used, and different systems within them. The ways we measure how well we’re working as a company is how quickly we can register our clients works to this global network and how quickly we will receive their data (the usage of their repertoire), their royalties and ultimately pay them. Learning about these fundamentals as a songwriter has been extremely empowering – you might see us use the phrase “know your rights” (thank you, Joe Strummer) and putting this into practice myself as inspiration for what we’re doing as a company, is wildly rewarding.
Top three things I’ve learned as a Songtrust Client:
- Having even a general understanding about the publishing space is vital to making better business decisions as a songwriter
- Just how important it is to "know your rights" - so many songwriters get swept up in fame and fortune but don't realize they could be giving away their rights
- How empowering it is to be given the tools to run my own publishing when I want and where I want, and how important it is to have a support system from my publishing company for those instances that I'm not 100% on
The Songtrust Employee Perspective
Listening to the songwriters, producers, managers, attorneys, publishing companies and labels who are considering working with us, and to our current clients is a core part of what’s informing our planning – how we think about the products we’re developing, improving the ones we have, and how we see our place in the larger music ecosystem. There is an ongoing discussion in the music industry around gaps in data and the various potential solutions for them. One of the areas that receives little focus is good data from the start. When a song is written, decisions are made around what percentage of a song a band member or producer might receive and having that detail available in at the global network of performing rights societies, collective management organizations and digital service providers is critical in ensuring proper attribution of royalties earned.
Top three things I've learned since working at Songtrust:
- How little the music community really understands about music publishing, but that they are willing and eager to learn about it
- Just how important clean and well-kept data is to making the music industry more equal for songwriters and rights holders
- Just how passionate the people behind Songtrust are at providing songwriters with the resources and tools to get what they earn, and deserve
Our team at Songtrust is obsessed with ways we can support song creators at the foundation of their careers getting it right, being accountable to their careers and their rights, and being a part of the improvements that will help resolve our industry’s issues in the long term. I believe we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in the ways we’ll do this. Thinking about new genres, new regions, new languages and communities is absolutely invigorating and I can’t wait to report back next year on all the ways we’re aiming to do so.
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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.