Congratulations! you got your song on radio! what’s next?. This is probably the last question on the artist’s mind as the excitement of radio play and all that may come with it – extra exposure, more performing gigs and recording contract deals, can cause many artists to miss a few important steps after and most importantly before their music is out there riding the air waves.
As an artist seeking to get his music played on radio, it is important to note, that every song you write, recorded in studio, published onto a CD and hand over to a radio station for purposes of radio play, you should get paid – in royalties that is. A radio station which agrees to play an up & coming artist’s song is not doing the artist a favor, but rather, the radio station is doing business. Radio stations understand that underground artists, just like well known “big name” artists have a fanbase. The only difference between the two is the size of the fanbase, but they both have a fanbase nonetheless. A fanbase, means increased listenership for the radio station when the underground artist’s song gets played, increased listenership means more money for the radiostation through ads from commercial companies seeking to get their message out there to as many people as possible.
It , however,is your responsibility as an artist to take the following steps beforehand to ensure you collect all the royalties due to you.
Copyright your music
In order to collect the royalties for his/her music the artist must first prove that they have legal rights to the published material. Though it is said once a song is written it is copyrighted, but for legal purposes having documented evidence stating you are the rightful owner of the material eliminates the chances of a third party being credited for your work.
There is more than one way in which you can start the process of copyrighting your music, you can:-
a). Register with a governmental copyright organization.
b). Register with a private copyright organization.
The United States government allows the copyright of material online through their website
. Not a US resident? no problem! due to international copyright treaties and conventions such as the Berne Convention, which requires its members to recognize the copyright of materials of authors from fellow member countries (known as members of the Berne Union) the same as it recognizes the copyright of its own nationals, most countries offer protection of foreign works under certain conditions. Here is a list of countries the US government can offer copyright services to:-
To copyright your work simply go to the following link-
, to make an online copyright filing. As you will be a new user, you will have to register a new account and complete your online copyright application. You will then be required to pay a $35 fee via debit/credit card or check, or a copyright office deposit account. After your fee is paid you are now allowed to upload an electronic copy of your work or send in a hard copy of the material you wish to copyright.
You now have to wait for your certificate of registration which can take up to 8 months, however, your copyright is valid at once when it is issued to the Copyright Office.
You can also copyright your music with a private online music copyright registration website. One such website is
. The website offers lifetime copyright and archives up to four of your songs for $29.95, the fee also includes a certificate of registration,dated proof of composer info and dated proof of song content which will be sent within two business days.
Other reputable music registration companies:-
Song Rite- The company accepts three currencies- United States Dollar(USD), British Pound and Euro. The rates in each currency is as follows:-
This is suitable for a Single Song or one single set of song Lyrics
(Thirty US Dollars)
(Twenty Pounds )
(Twenty Five Euros)
This is suitable for two or three songs or sets of song Lyrics
(Forty US Dollars)
(Twenty Five Pounds )
(Thirty Five Euros)
This is for registering from 4 to a maximum of 14 Songs or sets of Lyrics
(Fifty US Dollars)
(Forty Five Euros)
For further info on rates and membership fees go to:
Song Copyright offers lifetime international copyright registration at $35US per song. Your music is archived and documented in their database after your fee is paid and you send in the relevant documentation. Their website is listed below:-
Register with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)
Once you have all your music copyrighted , you must now register yourself with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO). These organizations collect public performance royalties, which is licensed music heard by the general public. A Performing Rights Organization has the responsibility of tracking, licensing, collecting fees and distributing your royalties once your song is played on radio/ television, performed live or is used for any commercial purposes.
Some of the most reputable Performing Rights Organizations are,ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers). Both ASCAP and BMI have online registration however SESAC is more selective with their membership,and, as such, to become a member, you will have to be offered an affiliation with the company. As a songwriter you can only belong to one of these three organizations. The differences between the three can be seen below.
ASCAP – Contract – yes- minimum 1yr Fees- $35 – registration Membership – online
BMI – Contract – yes- minimum 2yr Fees- no Membership – online
SESAC – Contract – yes- minimum 3yr Fees- no Membership – by affiliation
You can register with the companies at the links below:
More info on how to affiliate with SESAC:
If you are an artist under a record label, you will be paid mechanical royalties by your label,for the right of the reproduction of your songs for public distribution. While sales royalties- the money from the sale of your music, will be shared with the record label according to a predetermined percentage in your contract. However, sales royalties are not collected by the artist until after the record company has recouped all expenses for producing, marketing and distributing the song.
Other royalties which you will be entitled to collect as an artist are digital performance royalties and synchronization royalties. If you are under a record label your digital performance royalties will be collected by both you- the recording artist and your label- the copyright holder.
Digital performance royalties is simply royalties paid for music performed on satellite radio/television, digital cable and the internet. Such royalties are not collected by Performing Rights Organizations such as ASCAP,BMI etc but rather,through SoundExchange. SoundExchange collects such royalties which are not covered by the traditional Performing Rights Organizations and distributes them to the recording artist and the copyright holder (recording label). You can however be a member of both SoundExchange and any one of the major Performing Rights Organizations.They are a non-profit, however from 2009 to now their commission percentage is 8.7% and they pay on a per play basis. In order for you to collect your royalties from their company, you have to first register with them online at their website:
Synchronization royalties is royalties from the synchronization of your music into commercials, television shows, movies or videos. Here, the royalties are paid to the recording artist, and if there is a record label, the record label is paid a fee for use of the song and the artist is paid performance royalties when the song is played as a public performance through the movie/video or commercial. If you are a songwriter you will be entitled to print royalties when your sheet music is sold, basic range being 10% of retail price of the printed sheet music being sold.
All organizations listed pay royalties on a quarterly basis.
Written by Tamika Simon