There are several Music Publishing Royalties sources, but it’s never as simple as receiving a weekly paycheck. Revenue generated from music comes from royalties, which is when a company or individual pays you to use your copyrighted works (your music). In other words, whenever someone plays your music, you get a cut.
The rights to a song’s Composition, including the music and accompanying lyrics, are typically called “Publishing Rights.”
Music publishing is the exploitation of a song’s composition copyright. The composition of a song is the lyrics and melody as written by one or more songwriters. Music publishing only relates to composition.
It is the business of promotion and monetization of musical compositions: music publishers ensure that songwriters receive royalties for their compositions, and also work to generate opportunities for those compositions to be performed and reproduced.
Music Publishing Royalties You May Be Missing Out On
One of the most vital steps in ensuring you collect all your royalties is affiliating with your home collection society. This allows you to officially register your songs for royalty collection and connect the usage of your songs to you as a songwriter.
However, there are many different pay sources that your local society (e.g., MCSN, SAMRO, PRS, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc.) may not be collecting on your behalf.
When your song is streamed, purchased, publicly performed, or broadcast on radio/TV, royalties owed to you will accrue. Different collection societies and pay sources will hold these royalties until you, or someone you have authorized collects them.
The amount you’re owed is dependent on a variety of factors, including the type of royalty earned, the country the use occurred in, and the society that is retrieving your money. Here’s an example to help better understand how these organizations are structured:
If your song is streamed on Spotify in Canada, you’ll earn both performance and mechanical royalties. In a perfect world, you’d register with SOCAN (Canada’s PRO), become a publisher affiliate at CMRRA (Canada’s MRO), and call it a day. However, doing both these steps doesn’t mean you’re collecting the royalties you’ve earned in, say, Nigeria, unless you register directly with MCSN (Nigeria’s CMO), as well.
While your home society will utilize its reciprocal agreements to collect global royalties from its partners, that’s typically not as effective as direct global registration with a publisher. This means that you should be covered for the use of your song in your home country, but there’s no guarantee that you’re collecting royalties earned elsewhere.
When royalties remain unclaimed because a song isn’t registered with a collection society, this money often goes into limbo because it cannot be matched to a songwriter or publisher for payout. After a period of time — usually 2-3 years, depending on the society — these royalties can no longer sit and wait to be collected by the correct rightsholders.
Music Publishing Royalties Explained
In music, royalties are typically payable to an artist performing on the recording, the producer of the recording, and the songwriter or music publisher.
1. Streaming Mechanical Royalties
When a song is streamed via a Digital Service Provider (DSP), it generates two kinds of publishing royalties: mechanical and performance. PROs collect performance royalties. On the other hand, MROs collect mechanical royalties generated from streams on DSPs like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.
Do you have a strong following in Australia? Is South Africa the top country “Where People Listen” on your Spotify artist page? If so, you should be collecting royalties for all those plays. Unfortunately, your home collection society (if it’s not in the country where you’re earning royalties) may not be collecting them on your behalf.
2. YouTube Royalties
When a song is played in a YouTube video, performance and mechanical royalties (sometimes called “micro-sync” royalties) will be generated. Usually, performance royalties are paid out to your domestic collection society and mechanical royalties are paid directly to a publishing administrator.
This is done through YouTube's unique Content ID system, which can detect and claim royalties automatically based on its “fingerprint” technology. This allows them to claim your royalties when anyone uses your music in a video, even if the creator of the video doesn’t register the music usage.
3. International Performance Royalties
If your music is being streamed outside of your home country, you’re entitled to collect performance royalties and mechanical. Performance royalties are also generated when a song is played on broadcast or streaming radio, live in concert, in a restaurant, or on a television show. These are collected by pay sources in the local market and can be paid out through reciprocal agreements with your collection society.
Because you’re not directly affiliating with these organizations, you’re less likely to collect all of your international performance royalties if you rely solely on reciprocal agreements. If you directly affiliate with all collection societies where your music is performed, you’re more likely to retrieve your full payout, but affiliating and registering with dozens, or even more, international collection sources is an onerous and pricey task without a publishing administrator.
4. International Live Performance Royalties
Whenever you (or another performing artist) play your music in a public venue, you earn public performance royalties. In order to collect these royalties, you must submit your setlist to the collection society of the country where you performed. And in order to submit your setlist directly, you — or your publishing administrator — must be directly affiliated with that society.
As daunting as all of this might sound, you don’t have to go it alone. Working with a music publishing administrator like 1710Media ensures you can efficiently collect royalties and properly register your songs with our global network of collection societies.
Mechanical royalties refer to the right to reproduce and commercially distribute copyrighted songs in physical and digital formats.
When your composition is recreated in a “mechanical” format, that generates a corresponding mechanical royalty. The term originated when physical media was the only way people bought music, so each reproduction of a composition on vinyl, tape, or CD generated a mechanical royalty.
Since the advent of digital media, mechanical royalties have expanded to digital sales and streams. Whenever your composition is downloaded from a service like iTunes or played via an interactive streaming service like Apple Music or Spotify, you are owed a mechanical royalty.
Like a performing rights organization, a mechanical agency is an organization that collects mechanical royalties. They collect these from labels for the pressing of physical media and from digital services like iTunes/Apple Music and Spotify for downloads and interactive streams. They also collect directly from artists who pay them the mechanical rate for cover songs. Most smaller countries combine them with the PRO.
A public performance license and royalty payment are necessary whenever a song is played or performed "publicly" (outside of a private circle of family and friends). That means if you’re having a BBQ and you play music through your backyard speakers, you don’t owe a public performance royalty. But if you’re at a BBQ restaurant that is streaming music into the dining area, the restaurant owner does.
Public performance royalties collect from multiple sources. These include:
- Radio broadcasts
- TV and film broadcasts
- Concert Venues
- Streaming Services
Performance rates are negotiated on behalf of songwriters and publishers by Performing Rights Organizations (like MCSN, PRS, SAMRO, BMI, MCSN) charged with tracking, collecting, and distributing these royalties.
A performing rights organization, also known as a PRO, is an agency whose job is to monitor radio airplay and live performances. They then pay royalties to the songwriters and publishers who claim ownership of the songs.
PROs charge a blanket licensing fee for radio stations, venues, and even restaurants for the rights to host performances of the songs in the PROs’ catalog. This fee is scaled to the size of the station or venue; the larger it is the more they pay the PRO. The PROs use that money to pay songwriters and publishers.
7. Synchronization Royalties
If you’ve ever watched a TV show or commercial, seen a movie, or streamed a video online, you’ve probably noticed the amount of music they use. Well, the use of this music has a cost, and the payments made for the rights to use music in this way are called Sync Royalty.
The term “sync” is used because the producers have to pay a license fee to synchronize the songs to their audio or video. This means that any time the marriage of music and visual images occurs, a sync license is necessary.
There are no set rates for sync licenses like there are with mechanical and performance royalties. They are fully negotiable with custom rates for each. Factors include the popularity of the song, the production budget, the stature of the artist, and other factors like the timing and prominence of the song in a particular scene.
(Note, the music placed in TV or films also generates a performance royalty when broadcast. This is separate from the original sync license granted to place the music in the movie/show.)
How much royalty can I get from music publishing?
The amount of money you can earn from publishing depends on a few things. There’s no definitive, guaranteed number for everyone. Like sales and streaming revenue, the publishing royalties you earn are contingent on how much work you’re doing to promote your music and get it heard.
How do I collect all of my publishing royalties?
The caveat for independent artists who write and perform their own songs is that, while you control both of your copyrights, it’s extremely difficult to collect all of the royalties earned from your composition copyright by yourself. This is because collecting every publishing royalty you’re owed requires you to register your songs with hundreds of organizations around the world and have a catalog large enough to qualify as a publisher.
You can certainly collect some of your publishing royalties on your own from domestic sources, but there’s a good chance you’re leaving royalties unclaimed from sources you don’t have the authority to collect from.
Yes! As a Music Publishing Administrator, 1710Media administers your compositions by licensing, registering, and collecting royalties on behalf of your compositions, ensuring you are not leaving any money on the table.
If you sign up with us, we’ll handle all of the aspects of the collection for your publishing, including:
- We manage all aspects of Registration, Licensing, and Royalty collection processes.
- Worldwide collection: We register your music directly with royalty collection organizations in Nigeria and over 100 other countries.
- Claim royalty back payments: You can claim royalties from as far back as 2 years ago in many cases.
- Register live performances: Earn royalties from your past and present live performances.
- Get royalties when your music is used in; Hotels, Clubs, Online, TV and Radio stations, Halls, Transport Facilities, and many others.
- Keep 90% of all royalties: We charge a 10% administration fee for all royalty types.
- You pay a one-time fee (per songwriter): We charge a one-time fee per songwriter. Not annual, not per-release, It's just one time.