How to Ensure You’re Collecting All Royalties from Your Music

Are you a professional musician? Whether you’re a contributing instrumentalist, a composer, or a combination of both, it’s important that you learn how to collect royalties on music. After all, if you put your heart and soul into your craft, you deserve to be compensated for your work. Unfortunately, in today’s complex music industry, that’s not always easy.

There are many different ways to earn royalties as a musician and being aware of them is the first step. Read on to learn about collecting music royalties.

Performance Royalties

If you’re a songwriter and your original composition is played or performed in a public setting, you’re owed performance royalties. Here are some of the common places where your song might be broadcasted:

  • AM/FM radio
  • Internet radio (such as Pandora)
  • Online streaming services (such as Spotify)
  • Live venues/clubs
  • Businesses
  • TV

In order to collect your performance royalties, you need to register your songs with a Performing Rights Organization (PROs). In the U.S., the PROs are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. In order to learn how to collect royalties on music from PROs, your first step is to register with them.

Recording Royalties

If your music is ever streamed or downloaded, you should be earning recording royalties. Here are some of the most common platforms where your music may be sold or streamed, as of 2018:

  • Spotify
  • iTunes
  • Amazon
  • Google Play
  • Rhapsody
  • Beatport

If you’re on a label, you should be receiving royalties from the label. If you’re an independent artist who’s not on a label, you may need to check with your distributor to collect your royalties. It’s worth noting that you should only go through your distributor if you’re not on a label, as you may be breaking your contract otherwise.

Neighboring Rights Royalties

As you learn how to collect royalties on music, you’ll see that some royalties — such as performance and recording royalties — are more visible, and therefore easier to remember to collect, than others. However, there are also some music royalties — such as neighboring rights royalties — that often fly under the radar.

Neighboring rights royalties are very similar to performance royalties, only they refer to the right to perform the sound recording, not the musical composition itself.

For example, if your song is being played at a concert venue while the headlining band sets up, you/your label may be owed neighboring rights royalties. Neighboring rights protect the copyright of your mastered recording, not just the actual composition.

Mechanical Royalties

On your journey to understanding how to collect royalties on music, you’re going to see quite a lot of information on digital outlets, as they tend to be dominating the contemporary music industry. However, there are still physical mediums of music distribution, such as CDs, vinyl, and even cassettes. That’s where mechanical royalties come into play.

It’s important to note that while the word ‘mechanical’ does conjure visions of physical releases, you can also collect mechanical royalties on digital downloads and internet streamings too. Here are some of the common reasons why you may be owed mechanical royalties:

  • Your song was released and sold on a physical format
  • Your song was streamed on a music streaming service
  • Your song was sold as a digital download outside of the U.S.
  • Your song was reproduced and sold as a ringtone

In order to collect your mechanical royalties, you will need to register your compositions with all of the mechanical collection societies in your country. Collecting these music royalties can be a difficult and time-intensive process, especially if you’re an independent artist. Naturally, if you’re ever not sure how to collect royalties on music, talking to an industry professional is the next move.

YouTube Recording Royalties

More people listen to music on YouTube than any other streaming service. Every time your music is streamed on a YouTube video that has ads, you deserve royalties. YouTube has a high-tech algorithm that’s able to detect when your song is streamed even if you didn’t upload it, so you may be entitled to YouTube recording royalties and not even know it.

YouTube gives the royalties from its streams to the owner of the master recording, which may be the artist or the record label. If you’re wondering how to collect royalties on music streamed through YouTube, it’s not always easy. While you can apply to retrieve your royalties from YouTube directly, you may have better luck hiring a third-party service to handle the process for you.

Print Royalties

Unless your song is a Top 40 radio hit, print royalties won’t apply to you. Artists receive print royalties if their music is transcribed so people can play it on their personal instruments at home. For example, if a company transcribes your song into piano sheet music, you would be entitled to royalties. Of course, if your career is at that level, you should already have a team of professionals handling your music royalties.

Licensing Royalties

If your song is used in a movie, TV show, or video, you should learn how to collect royalties on music that’s been licensed. Collecting these royalties depends on your status as a musician. If you’re working with a record label that owns the rights to the master recording, you will need to talk to the label about what your contract dictates concerning licensing royalties.

If you’re an independent artist who owns the rights to your master recording, you can speak with the video production company directly. Ideally, you should work out the terms of your royalties before the song is used in the video, otherwise, you may need to work with a lawyer to get what’s rightfully owed if the company used your music without permission.

Sample Royalties

If another musician wants to use a sample of your music in their song, you need to determine how to collect royalties on music before it’s sampled. In most cases, the musician who wants to sample your music contacts the record label and negotiates a fee, but if you own the rights to your master recording, you can negotiate royalties on your own.

Work-for-Hire Royalties

If you record a song specifically for another artist or business, you may be owed royalties, depending on the nature of the contract. For example, if you recorded a song for a TV commercial, you may get paid just once for your work, or you may receive residuals each time the commercial is played.

Appearance Royalties

If you’re performing on a TV show or at an event, you may need to learn how to collect royalties on music. In most cases, you or your record label negotiate these music royalties with the production company beforehand ensuring that your payment goes through before performance. However, always make sure to review your contract thoroughly beforehand.

Advertising Royalties

Do you have an artist website that shows ads? If so, you may be entitled to advertising royalties. For example, if you’re on the Google AdSense platform, you should receive regular royalties if visitors are viewing or clicking on your ads. On a similar note, if you agree to sponsor or endorse a company or organization, you should be compensated accordingly.

Work with Professionals

As you can see, understanding how to collect royalties on music isn’t always easy to understand. Navigating today’s convoluted music industry on your own can be extremely daunting, and unfortunately, you can’t always trust in record labels to have your best interest at heart. That’s why working with a qualified accountant/financial advisor is so critical.

Working with a team of professionals ensures that you’re getting every cent that’s rightfully owed to you. Attempting to collect all of that income on your own can take an incredible amount of time and effort, and even then it may not work out. Having the right team behind you makes it possible to collect overdue royalties while also ensuring that your future is protected.

Contact Us Today

If you’re looking for a team that knows how to collect royalties on music effectively, we can help. Shahen Derderian & Associates has the resources, know-how, and first-hand experience to help you on your musical journey.

If you’re ready to start earning more from your music, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. Call now, and we’ll be happy to discuss your options. These days, simply knowing and understanding how to collect royalties on music is half the battle. Contact us today, and we’ll help you to get the royalties you deserve.

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