Money is almost always tight for musicians whether they’re just starting out or have been building their careers for a while. This makes knowing how much and what promotion efforts to invest money in a tricky task. There’s no guarantees in music, and this doesn’t just apply to whether the world will connect with your songs or not. Throwing money into an expensive PR or radio campaign won’t necessarily get you any closer to your goals, meaning there’s a certain amount of risk involved when you pay for music promotion. But for many artists, forking over precious cash for professional radio and PR campaigns ends up paying off in huge ways. And with today’s ridiculously saturated music culture, most artists need all the help they can get.
But with tight budgets and shrinking profits, many bands are forced to decide whether to invest money into radio campaigns or professional PR efforts.
Like any other property, music copyrights and the individual exclusive rights thereof, can be transferred, sold, licensed, and divided among several owners. In general, to use recorded copyrighted music, you will need permission from both the musical work owner (typically a publisher) and the sound recording owner (typically a record company). Note, however, if you re-record a song (instead of using a pre-recorded version), permission generally is only required from the musical work owner (since you are not using someone else’s sound recording).
Music has changed in some remarkable ways over the past couple of years. Playlists are giving massive amounts of exposure to previously unknown artists of every age and experience level and analytic information provided by streaming platforms can now tell musicians detailed information about just who is listening to their music and how they discovered it.
But the biggest change in music we’re seeing is the breakdown of the album format. In 2016, researchers found that listeners were beginning to listen to music more on playlists than they were through traditional albums. This represents an Earth-shattering change for the music industry, and we’re nowhere near the point of being able to comprehend what it all means. But something that’s easy to see in the short term is that press and radio outlets appear to be slow to adjust to music’s new reality.
So you’ve written a song. Now what? Well, by writing a song you’ve created a piece of intellectual property which you own. Copyright is there to protect the value of this property, allowing you to generate income from its usage. Music publishing is the business of protecting and administering the copyright in your song and maximizing its value. Generally, a music publishing company will take a share of the income from your song in return for the administrative and creative work they do for you. Working with a good publisher can save you time and money and plug you into a wider and more efficient network of opportunities to generate income in comparison with self-administering your songs as a performing rights organization (PRO) member only. We’ve asked Ross Adamson, Senior Catalogue Manager at CONNECT Songs' global publishing administration partner Sentric Music for 5 points you should consider when looking to work with a publisher:
Fair Deal Terms
Are the basic terms of the publishing agreement fair and in-line with what you need for the point you’re at in your music career? Is the publisher offering money (an advance) upfront? The prospect of cash now is always tempting but does the amount being offered seem fair in comparison with the length (the term) of the agreement? If no money is offered as part of the deal then the term should be extremely short – ideally less than 6 months and certainly no longer than a year under normal circumstances. (For example – the CONNECT Songs agreements offer no advance as standard and so the term is an extremely short and very fair 45 days).
What splits are being offered? Traditionally publishing splits were 50/50 but, again, this should be in line with any advance and the term. For big money investment from a publisher, you might be willing to have an initial 50/50 split on royalties with them but what about after they’ve recouped the advance? Does the rate increase in your favour? For a deal with no advance, alongside a short term you should also expect a fair royalty split – probably no less than 75/25 in your favour. (Again, using CONNECT Songs as an example – the performance and mechanical royalty split is 80/20 in favour of the songwriter).
Now that you know what a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) is and that they’re an integral part of the music industry and in getting public performances licensed, tracked and then royalties paid to songwriters, SESAC Creative Services Manager, Diana Akin Scarfo shares her top tips for how to get started with a PRO.
Are you playing your original songs/music live or are they getting played on the radio? Was your song placed in a TV show, film or commercial that is being played on TV? Did you know that songwriters get paid for these types of public performances? PROs (Performing Rights Organizations) are an integral part of the music industry and in getting these types of public performances licensed, tracked and then royalties paid to songwriters. The administration and business side of your song catalog is as important as you creating it - read on to learn the ins and outs of how this works from SESAC Creative Services Manager, Diana Akin Scarfo.
What is a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)? If you’re a songwriter, you have the right to be paid royalties any time your song is performed publicly. A PRO, also known as a Performing Rights Organization, tracks and licenses a songwriter’s music and pays the songwriter and music publisher public performance royalties (it is very common for the songwriter to act as the music publisher until a publishing deal/agreement is entered into). Public performance royalties are when your song is performed on radio (terrestrial, satellite, and internet), TV (TV Shows, films played TV, commercials), live performances (i.e. bars, music venues, festivals, etc.), and digital streaming services (i.e. Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Pandora, Rdio, Rhapsody, etc.).
Our sync partner Hitcher Music recently secured a placement for LA rockers ACIDICon TNT’s “Animal Kingdom.”Tune in on Tuesday, August 2nd to listen to their track “My Town” on the show and get a preview by listening to the track below!