Make Music, Make Money – 5 Alternative Ways to Make Money from your Songs


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.


<NOTE: For subscribers ONLY, I am making an announcement tomorrow about an event for a very limited number of you so please register if you haven’t already….>


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.


Ryan Tedder (One Republic) also wrote songs for Kelly Clarkson, James Blunt and a few of the songs on Adele’s smash album, 21.


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).


3)      Youtube


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.


For subscribers ONLY, I am making an announcement tomorrow about an events for a very limited number of you so please register if you haven’t already.




You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Make Music, Make Money – 5 Alternative Ways to Make Money from your Songs”

  1. Tebogo says:

    Awesome tips. Thanks Jon.

  2. Flo says:

    Now I know you might not be able to/want to/have the time to answer these, and it might not really be suitable for future blogs, but this is something I’ve been wondering about, and any answers or advice on how/where to get answers would help me a lot!

    Specifically regarding public performance royalties in South Africa. I’ve read more or less the same as what today’s blog entry said in the past, but I’m still wondering:

    1. Who pays these royalties? Is that something that venue owners pay to SAMRO (or whatever organisation)? The reason I’m curious about this is the question of whether everybody does this, and whether being the one songwriter who (indirectly) asking for royalties might tarnish the relationship between performer & venue owner. I understand that this SHOULDN’T be a concern, but I’m sure you know that unknown & upcoming acts are concerned with these kind of issues.

    2. How does this work for covers? Or playing other songwriter’s material? Or others playing mine (with or without permission from me)? For example: Would a venue who “employs” a musician for a night owe more money to SAMRO (or whatever organisation) because a famous American HIT song was performed? Should covers even be included in the setlist submitted to the royalty organisation, or is it only really for claiming money for your own songs? Example: What would a cover/tribute band do? Would someone submit a setlist to make sure the original songwriters get their due?

    I know these questions are slightly off-topic, but it’s things I’ve been wondering about for a while now, and would love to get answers on. Or advice on where to get answers?

    Again, ANY answer would be greatly appreciated.
    But the most important thing for me to say: Great job on the blog! I find it informative, enjoyable, and exciting! Looking forward to the next one!

    • Jon Savage says:

      Hi Floris
      Thanks so much for the questions.

      1. Who pays these royalties?
      This is a great question. So every year the venue pays an annual fee to SAMRO (as you are in South Africa) to be able to have live music in their venue. They have to pay this by law (as does EVERY public space that plays music in the country – even a shop that plays the radio over the speakers). SAMRO divides the fees based on what has been submitted by the artists. So the venue has no contact with you asking for these royalties. You hand in the forms at SAMRO and they divide the income (from ALL of these fees) among the artists who have submitted royalty claims.

      2. In the case of covers.
      So the same thing applies here. If you are a cover band, then the artists that you are covering, get these fees. If you play a Bon Jovi cover with your band in a live venue, when SAMRO divides the fees, they pay Bon Jovi his portion of the royalties. This is the royalty that you are MISSING out on if you don’t submit your public performance forms – SAMRO doesnt know that your songs are being played in the venue, and therefore you don’t get your share off the royalties.

      Hope that helps?

  3. Sari Dajani says:

    Hi Jon. There is one little (actually) very major detail that I think must be corrected. Mechanical royalties are not paid to the performer of a song. They, also, are paid to the songwriter/publisher of the song. The correct term for what you called ‘publishing royalty’ is performance royalty. The person who pays for a recording receives a ‘master license’ fee when the actual recording (that they paid for) is licensed to a music user such as a TV show or an advertisement or any othet commercial use.
    I think it is very important to clarify.

    Sari Dajani
    PSD Musique

  4. Lyn says:

    Good morning,

    I started writing at the age of 10… I’m 34 now and I still have that same dream of being a famous songwriter. Im not sure if I were scared of failure or success, but I think I am ready now! I don’t trust anyone with my songs, to me this is gold, how do I know that a publisher won’t try and con me?

    I don’t wantto keep these songs to myself either, I desperately want the world to hear it. When I write any song, I think “international Artists”

    And how much are the costs on registering one’s songs?

    Thank you
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Kind Regards

    • Jon Savage says:

      Hi Lyn!
      Thanks so much for the comment!!

      I’m afraid you are going to have to start trusting people with your songs if you want to get out there. Just make sure you do your homework on the publishers first! AND ALSO CHECK WITH ME before you sign anything with anyone. There are some sharks out there, but there are also some awesome guys. :)

      If you need any help, let me know. Also check out my songwriting course at !

      I’m gearing up for my epic publishing podcast – so subscribe to my podcast series – and your questions will be answered :)

      good luck!

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: NewWpThemes | Thanks to Free WordPress Themes