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Maximizing Royalties: A Guide for Recording Artists on Collecting Publishing and Songwriting Royalties


For recording artists who self-publish their music, understanding how to collect both publishing and songwriting royalties is essential for maximizing their earnings and protecting their rights. In this guide, we'll delve into the process of obtaining the rights to collect on both royalties and provide step-by-step instructions on how to do so through performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP or BMI.


Understanding Publishing and Songwriting Royalties:


Before diving into the process, it's important to understand the distinction between publishing and songwriting royalties:


1. Publishing Royalties: Paid to the owner of the musical composition (the publisher) for the right to use the song in various ways, such as reproduction, distribution, and public performance.


2. Songwriting Royalties: Paid to the creator(s) of the musical composition (the songwriter(s)) for their contribution to the creation of the song, typically through mechanical royalties (for physical and digital sales) and performance royalties (for public performances).


Steps to Collecting Both Royalties:


1. Self-Publishing Registration:

- If you self-publish your music, you automatically hold the rights to both publishing and songwriting royalties.

- Register yourself as the publisher of your music through a PRO such as ASCAP or BMI. This can typically be done through the online portal provided by the PRO.


2. Songwriter Registration:

- Register yourself as the songwriter(s) of your music with the same PRO (ASCAP or BMI).

- Provide detailed information about each song, including title, co-writers (if applicable), and ownership percentage.


3. Affiliation with a PRO:

- Choose a PRO to affiliate with based on your preferences, geographical location, and any existing relationships.

- Complete the affiliation process by filling out the necessary forms and providing the required documentation.


4. Song Registration:

- Register each of your songs with your chosen PRO, providing all relevant details about the composition.

- This step ensures that your songs are properly tracked and that you receive royalties when they are used or performed.


5. Royalty Collection:

- Once your songs are registered with the PRO, they will monitor and collect royalties on your behalf.


- Publishing royalties will be collected by you as the publisher, while songwriting royalties will be collected by you as the songwriter(s).


6. Royalty Distribution:

- ASCAP, BMI, or your chosen PRO will distribute collected royalties to you according to their distribution schedule and policies.

- You may receive separate payments for publishing and songwriting royalties, depending on the PRO's procedures.


By self-publishing your music and registering as both the publisher and songwriter with a performing rights organization such as ASCAP or BMI, you can ensure that you collect both publishing and songwriting royalties for your compositions. Follow the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide to maximize your earnings and protect your rights as a recording artist. Remember that proper registration and affiliation with a PRO are crucial steps in the process of collecting royalties for your music.

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