In our article “What Kinds of Royalties Are Involved in Music Publishing,” we discussed one of the two main types of music publishing royalties: Performance royalties. As you already know, as a songwriter, you collect your performance royalties directly from your PRO.
You earn performance royalties if your music is:
Played on internet radio (like Pandora)
Played on “terrestrial radio” (i.e. 93.3 FM, 100.7 FM, etc.)
Played on online streaming services like Spotify
Performed at live venues or played in clubs (whether by you as a performer on your tour, by a well-known DJ in a club in Sweden, or by a cover band in a pub in Nashville)
Played in businesses and retailers of all kinds (hotels, restaurants, retail stores, big offices, etc.) as background music
Broadcasted on TV (whether on an episode of a TV show, on a sports channel in passing, or in an advertisement for another brand)
You can see that performance royalties are definitely a special royalty type. You earn performance royalties from public broadcasts of your music on certain key platforms with big, high-volume audiences. Some of the uses listed above are big-time stuff. Getting your music on terrestrial radio is a matter unto itself. Pandora heavily curates their music and not all artists have the privilege of getting their music on Pandora. Just because you’re selling your music via a digital distributor like Symphonic doesn’t necessarily mean you’re earning performance royalties from your PRO. But you can do some extra work so that you can increase your chances of earning them in several different ways.
In the most basic sense, you have to hustle to market your music and gain traction for it on as many public platforms as possible – in other words, your music can’t just sit there on iTunes waiting for someone to buy it. In order to get performance royalties, you have to market your music to these larger-scale platforms for broadcasts of your music.
Live Performances & Turning In Your Set Lists
First off, actively touring and performing your music is vital. Each time you perform your music live at a participating ASCAP/BMI public venue, you are earning yourself performance royalties. Crazy, but true. If you’re a DJ/producer, marketing your music to the right fellow DJs is crucial – you want them to play your music in their sets at clubs, which will earn you even more performance royalties.
The vital requirement of this is that it is your responsibility as the songwriter and performer to turn in set lists to your PRO. Each PRO has their own system of turning in set lists that allows affiliated songwriters to turn in their set list and performance information to the PRO, which in turn helps the PRO to track the performance and allot your royalties from the venue.
For ASCAP, it’s ASCAP OnStage. If you’re an ASCAP member, definitely check out this page for more information: http://www.ascap.com/onstage/ Also read the OnStage FAQs: http://www.ascap.com/members/onstage/onstage-faqs.aspx.
For BMI, it’s BMI Live. If you’re a BMI affiliate, check out their FAQ page here to get more information on how to submit your set lists: http://www.bmi.com/faq/category/bmi_live.
It’s important to understand that not all performances are eligible for processing by ASCAP OnStage or BMI Live – the PRO has to be able to track the performance to a participating (paying) venue. For example, performances at private parties, teaching activities at schools, wedding receptions, church services, or street performances are examples of performances that are NOT eligible for live performance royalties. Again, read more on the respective pages to find out more crucial information!
Next, getting your music on TV is a bigger, more complex thing. This gets into the realm of synchronization licensing, which is the business of licensing music for placement on top of a visual medium. In the most basic sense though, do your research and figure out a non-exclusive licensing firm that can make your music available to TV music supervisors for placement onto their networks (FOX Sports, ESPN, etc.) or TV show episodes, and will make your music available to ad agencies and big brands for placement in ads. If you’re not interested in the non-exclusive licensing firm route, there are also production libraries that house stock music that TV networks come to to license music quite often. Some composers make music cues solely for production libraries, and due to their successes from TV placements, have made solid money over time. But it’s worth noting that many production libraries are exclusive and do retain full publishing rights to the music they accept. At Symphonic, we have partnered with multiple non-exclusive licensing firms, in addition to our own in-house placement division, to help our clients with licensing-friendly music in the placement realm.
Tips for Getting Music on Internet Radio, Pandora
Getting your music on internet radio (like BBC Radio 1, etc.) has to do with a multitude of factors. Radio tastemaker personnel are constantly bombarded with music recommendations – getting your music noticed by these people is a mix of getting blog hype and traction, Spotify/iTunes features, Hype Machine charting, and much more. If your music is blogged on the right platforms, featured on Spotify, Hype Machine and the like, it can be noticed by radio personnel. Get a strong PR relationship going with a respected, active, well-connected PR agent or agency. Feel free to check out Symphonic’s PR relationships in the industry – we recommend for you certain firms based on your client needs and the firm’s specialities. (link to http://symphonicdistribution.com/public-relations/)
As for Pandora, specifically: As mentioned above, Pandora heavily curates their music and not all artists have the privilege of having their music accepted to Pandora. Independent artists have the opportunity to digitally submit their music to Pandora for curation (link to https://help.pandora.com/customer/portal/articles/24802-information-for-artists-submitting-to-pandora). But at the end of 2013, Symphonic Distribution officially established its direct relationship with Pandora that allows us to work with our selected amount of label brands to deliver their music directly to Pandora on a weekly basis for curation by Pandora. There is no middleman in this process (no third parties, no other distributor). The amount of Pandora-approved labels is growing as Pandora recognizes our quality content, so just by distributing with Symphonic you can discuss with us your desires and get on the Pandora radar.
Tips for Getting Your Music Played in Stores, Restaurants, Hotels & More
The good news is that Symphonic has established a comprehensive licensing program that involves not just film/TV/commercial synchronization licensing, but also background music/business music licensing. We’ve established partnerships with Eos Music and the world’s largest branding company for background music, Mood Media. Mood Media houses such major business licensing brands as Muzak and DMX. These companies control the music you hear when you go shopping at department stores, retail stores, head to fast-food joints, spas, shopping malls, restaurants, pharmacies… you name it. Getting your music in the hands of these companies’ music curators means your music will be heard by business and people within those businesses worldwide. Every time your music is played in the background, you earn a performance royalty. For more information about this, check out our article. (link to http://symphonicdistribution.com/how-to-get-your-music-in-stores-restaurants-hotels-more/#.UzmTarx2f8c)
Performance royalties can be harder to earn than mechanical royalties, but Symphonic is here to help provide our clients with tools to enhance their successes in this exciting realm!