The place where most artists struggle is once they have their song, and have tried submitting it for playlisting on various radio stations and have had no luck.
Who do you do next? There are still many options for you if you are serious about wanting to make music, make money and make a career out of your songwriting.
We are still going to get in to more details of the business aspects of songwriting but for the sake of simplicity you need to be aware that there are two main types of royalties that you can earn from a song. The first one is the “publishing” royalty and the other is the “mechanical” royalty. Different countries have different terms for these two but they essentially refer to these two.
The “publishing” royalty refers to the actual songwriter or song writers of a particular song. This royalty belongs to the writers forever and so you have to be very careful when registering your publishing that every name on the publishing royalty breakdown is deserved of their percentage. If you decide to use a publishing agent (also known as a publisher) to register your songs on your behalf, be careful to do your homework first. There are a lot of publishers out there who take advantage of new artists who don’t know what they are doing by convincing them that it is standard practice to include THEIR name on the “publishing” royalty! This means that they co-own your songs with you for life. Even if you fire that publisher in the future, he still co-owns your songs. Some publishers make a lot of money from forcing artists to “buy” their own songs back from them (I know a LOT of these artists). I am going to be writing a more extensive blog on this particular topic too so please subscribe to my website (on the right) if you are interested in learning more .
The second royalty is the “mechanical” royalty, which refers to your actual recording of your song (possibly with your voice or playing an instrument on it.) Traditionally, whoever pays for the recording of the song, takes a percentage of this royalty for every album copy sold but the rest is split between the players on the song.
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So. If you decide to record a cover of a Paul Simon song and release it, you will receive a “mechanical” royalty but Paul Simon will receive all of the “publishing” royalties as he wrote the song. And (here comes the important part), if any artists ever cover a song that you wrote, they will receive the mechanicals, and you will receive all of the publishing royalties.
To take this one step further, you can now see that to maximize your profits, it is better for you to write your own songs and play them and earn all the royalties!
Before you can begin to earn any royalties at all, you need to do is REGISTER your songs with your countries music rights organization (I’ll dedicate a blog to this as well). A publisher can do this on your behalf if you so choose.
Getting your song on radio is the easiest and fastest way to start making royalties and you can earn large sums of regular money if you have a hit single.
But getting on radio is not the only way to make money as a song writer :
Here are 5 powerful alternative ways to make money from your songs.
1) Public Performance
You may not know this but you are owed a performance royalty for EVERY time your song is played in a public performance space. Yes, that means that every time your band plays your own song at a live music venue, you are making publishing royalties. It seems like a lot of work but it is very simple. You need to be diligent and fill in the Public Performance Publishing forms (available free from your country’s music organization website) after every gig with a list of the songs that you played, submit them properly and voila! It is a small amount per show but the more gigs you play, and the more of your songs you play, it can really add up!
2) Streaming Mechanicals
Streaming is becoming more and more popular for receiving music in the past year than anything else. So wide is the availability of legal streaming music these days that there is always space for your music. Streaming services include : Spotify, Simfy, Deezer, Rhapsody and many more. They are easy to get on to (much easier than a radio station) as their playlists are infinite and you earn “Streaming Mechanicals” for every time your music is streamed (in the same way that your music earns a royalty for every time your song gets played on radio).
There are numerous very interesting ways to make money from your music on Youtube (I could dedicate an entire blog to just this one). One of the simplest ways is to find one of Youtube’s distribution partners, such as Rumblefish and register with them. You only make small amounts of money for each license, but the more you write, the more you submit, the more you can make. Investigate this thoroughly as some writers make a great living from just working the Youtube angle.
4) Selling your songs to other artists.
Not every artist is able to write good songs. If you are a talented songwriter, then find yourself a good publisher who can help you promote your songwriting abilities to other artists. Try to find established artists, because all it takes is one hit single from an established artist, singing the song that you write, for you to start seeing some hefty publishing cheques coming through the mail. This greatly enhances your opportunities to earn money as a writer and to start working with other artists.
5) TV Syncs
I am going to dedicate a lot of time in the future to this topic. This is the single most profitable and fastest way to make a lot of money from your songwriting. Brands making commercials for radio or tv, films and television shows are constantly on the lookout to find suitable material for their content. And they want to pay for it. When it comes to brands, they will license your song for a period of time. Every time the license period expires, they will pay you again to re-license. If your goal is to become a profitable songwriter, you need to start tailoring your music to fit in with these brands and you will start earning some real money from your songs.
I hope this has helped a little bit. It feels like I’m just hitting the tip of the iceberg of this topic on how to make music, make money! Please subscribe to my blog or leave a comment below.
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