So you've finally finished your songs and put them out in the world, now you want to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your song is valuable, and can generate royalties from physical sales and downloads as well public performances. Below however, are a few you different sources you may not have known about:
Did you know that whenever you play your songs live, you are able to earn an additional royalty for you as a songwriter?
Who Pays? As long as the venue you are playing is licensed by ASCAP or BMI (most are) they will pay you royalties each quarter for these performances. The same goes for international live performances.
What do I have to do? Join ASCAP or BMI and register your songs with them, and then submit your setlist every time you perform your songs live. Songtrust can handle this entire process for you, we also have a section in our dashboard where you can easily submit setlists for ASCAP or BMI as well as international PRO’s.
Once your songs are out in the world, it won’t be long before you find lyric sites, sheet music sites, and tablature sites appear using your songs. This counts as a digital print use and generates a royalty for you as a songwriter..
Who Pays? The royalty generated is a mechanical royalty. This royalty can be licensed directly with the publisher or through a mechanical organization like Harry Fox Agency. The NMPA recently won a settlement with top lyrics site rap genius, setting a standard for lyric sites to pay songwriters and rights holders for the use of their copyright.
What do I have to do? When you sign up with Songtrust, we will automatically affiliate you and register your songs with The Harry Fox Agency. They have direct deals with top sites including MusicxMatch and LyricFind. ASCAP and BMI will not collect these royalties for you.
Ringtones / Ringback:
When your song is used as a ringtone or ringback, this counts as a reproduction and generates a mechanical royalty.
Who Pays? In the US licensed either through Harry Fox Agency or directly through the publisher. The current rate owed to the songwriter for each sale of ringtones is 24 Cents per copy. Outside the US, these uses generate an additional performance royalty, so the PRO in each territory will be responsible for collection.
What do I have to do? When you sign up with Songtrust, we will automatically affiliate you and register your songs with The Harry Fox Agency, they can license your songs for ringtones and ringbacks. Additionally, with your Songtrust account, we will automatically affiliate you with international PRO’s.
Karaoke has been around for decades! The use of your music and lyrics as a reproduction constitutes another mechanical use, and generates yet another royalty for you as a songwriter.
Who Pays: In the US these ringtones Karaoke companies can secure licenses for their use either through Harry Fox Agency or directly through the publisher. The rates are typically set at 14 Cents per unit paid to the songwriter.
What do I have to do? When you sign up with Songtrust, we will automatically affiliate you and register your songs with The Harry Fox Agency, they can license your songs for a Karaoke use.
As one of the fastest growing income sources for songwriters, services like Spotify, Pandora, Beats, Tidal, and YouTube all generate songwriter royalties through streaming music.
Who Pays: For radio/playlist style services where you don’t have the ability to choose specific songs to play (Pandora, iHeartRadio) only a performance royalty is generated, this is collected by the PRO in each territory. For services where you are able to pick and choose each song to listen to, a performance and interactive streaming mechanical royalty is generated. In this case, the royalties would come partially from ASCAP or BMI, as well as a mechanical organization like Harry Fox Agency. More on streaming here.
What do I have to do? When you join Songtrust, we will make sure all these royalties get collected by affiliating you and registering your songs with performance and mechanical collection societies worldwide.
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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.