I remember when I first starting thinking I might want to be a songwriter beyond what I wrote for myself I started researching publishing. I had some knowledge about publishing because I grew up fascinated by the music industry. I used to read all “Thank Yous” in the CD jackets. I kept seeing ASCAP and wondered what it was. I learned if I want my money I have to have my publishing in order. So that is what I’m working on right now.
If you spend a lot of time crafting the perfect lyrics and recording your music professionally you most definitely do not want some random guy to take claim of your projects. Many try to prevent this using the poor man’s method. What that does not take into account is how you will get paid for your music. Even if no one else takes credit you are not getting credit for your music. This means no royalties. Are you trying to work for free? I didn’t think so.
If you pay for studio time do not cut corners after the song is done. Get your publishing together. You will need to register as a songwriter with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, collectively known as The PROs. It is the job of The PROs to monitor your royalties and make sure you are paid. These royalties come from radio play, public performances, digital downloads, record sales, streaming, and movie and television licensing.
Another added benefit of joining one of The PROs is they have events which are great networking opportunities. If you are publishing your own music this is a great time to introduce others to your music.
But what if I’m not playing on the radio or television? You will still need to get your music copyrighted. Check out www.copyright.gov/eco for more information on which forms you need.
If you wish to publish your music you will need to decide whether or not you want to publish under another publishing agency or if you will create your own publishing company. There are pros and cons to each one. Consider if you want the responsibility of find the artists yourself or if you want someone else to plug your songs for you. How does the thought of sharing your royalties sit with you?
Okay, so you have decided you want to start your own publishing company. You will need to come up with some wonderful names for your business, file some paperwork, and start plugging. For more information on all that is required see www.songwriter101.com and Music Publisher Association www.mpa.org. Make sure you file with your local government as a business. Keep copies of all your paperwork in a safe place. You will need them come tax time.
Make sure when creating your band’s business plan you factor in the funds you will need for fees. Each agency has different rates and payment plans. The amount of money you will spend on publishing is nothing compared to the loss you might feel if you don’t copyright the right way.
If you are signed up with a PRO, which one is it and what made you decide on that one? What are your experiences?