Legally Protect Your Music & Get Paid!

You have your music done, maybe even submitted it before. But how can you protect your music and make sure you get paid whenever it’s played? Read on….

Who Can Pay Me?

Let’s start with the big dogs and work our way down…

Performing Rights Organizations

To protect artists from being broke and the labels living lavishly off of them with their shady deals, Organizations have formed to ensure artists directly get paid for any work shown (sampled) on major television, radio, etc…

Some of these organizations:

  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (commonly known as ASCAP)
  • Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
  • SESACSociety of European Stage Authors & Composers

With these service, you send them your original material, (this copyrights it and ensures all credit goes to you), then, they have radio stations, television, publications all report to them every time your material is used. (Don’t worry, they ensure it’s not all left to THEM to report it.) Once you have your material used, they credit you and you get paid for your material.

All material submitted differ in prices the owner’s get paid. This is due to where your material was used. If it was used in a small nightclub versus on MTV, the prices of course will be substantially lower/higher.

*There may be small fees (App. $35+) to upload your material, but it’s well worth it.



How many promo cd’s do you get handed when your out? Random people come up to you and hand your their talent.  What many artists forget though, is if they are not copyrighting their work: they’re handing more than just a cd away! Another example is YouTube. They’re not letting users upload any music that is copyrighted. Now say someone knows you have a hit and you handed some knucklehead your cd. He goes home and uploads your music on YouTube.  Now, if he was the first one to do this, then when you attempt to upload your own material, it may not let you!!  Could you imagine?

You need to Register a Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.

For a small fee, you can protect your work. The current price is $35 and everything can be done online.

The website to do this is:


Distribution Sites

Alot of artists have already uploaded their music to sites in hope to make some money. But want you may not realize, is you may be paying more than you are making.  You have to do your homework and don’t go with a distribution site just because it has a Record Label logo or Celebrity Co-Signers. Some of these sites say in the fine print: WE HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS TO OWN YOUR MUSIC/ YOUR MUSIC IS NOW PROPERTY OF XYZ DISTRIBUTION, ETC.. So DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

An example of a good distribution site is what I like to call a ‘Wholesale Service’.  What I mean is: Think of your Sam’s Clubs or other Wholesale stores.  You are able to get larger size products at lower prices than if you was to buy individual products. Buying in Bulk.


6 individual bars of soap = $9.00 if bought in regular store. ($1.50 each)

6 pack of bars of soap =  &6.00 if bought in wholesale club/store.

The same applies to digital distribution.  You can go to each service (iTunes, Amazon, etc) and pay for each service individually and only get a few outlets or you can use a service that has all these outlets available at a flat rate.  The more outlets they offer, the better! A good site will let you keep track of your music plays by giving you a SoundScan Report.

“Soundscan is the official method of tracking sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Data is collected weekly and made available every Wednesday to subscribers, which include executives from all facets of record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film and TV, and artist management. SoundScan is the sales source for the Billboard music charts, making it the official source of sales records in the music industry.”

So again, the artists gets paid per click, download, buy, etc.. It all depends on the service you go with.  Each service offers a different price for their services.

Some Digital Distribution:

Distribution services are used by artists/labels/management to push their music and have a place to send fans to listen/buy their music.  Point being: It’s up to you to be proactive and ensure you are promoting these pages you have your material on!



If you take your original work and seal it in an envelope, mail it to yourself and leave it unopened: Is it Copyrighted?        NO!

The reason?  Anyone can fake it.  Say today is Monday. An artist claims his copyright was marked on Monday. The same day, you take a blank cd, put it in an envelope and paperclip the the opening closed instead of licking and sealing it. Then you mail it to yourself. On Wednesday, you get it back in the mail, take the blank cd out, change your computer date to a day before the Monday that just passed, and upload the music on the cd.  It is now marked saying the music was created on an earlier date than the ‘Monday’ the other artists date has.  You then mail it back to yourself.  See what u did?

It’s understandable to do but only as a ‘in the meantime’ method.  Not once have I seen a case that legally won based on this method either.  If you are ever brought or take someone to court, you want to ensure your material is registered to you.


I remember a situation where a group of guys had a rap group under a local label.  The group (We’ll call them Goon Squad) made numerous tracks and albums.  Unknown to these artists, the label head supposedly took their music across country and was selling their material to movies as background music.  Though the group had recordings, they never kept track of nothing and was using other’s equipment when they recorded.  They had no way of keeping track of their recordings therefore, someone was able to steal them and get paid off of them without anyone knowing.

In closing, There are too many people looking for ways to make a dollar and stealing your music is just too easy for them.  Change that, PROTECT YOUR MATERIAL!

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