So you know there are royalties associated with publishing, but what kind? Which ones do Symphonic Publishing Administration collect? How can you know if you’re earning those royalties as an independent artist who writes your own songs?
Let’s find out…
The two most common music publishing royalty types, central to any independent songwriter’s income, are performance royalties and mechanical royalties. When you sign up with Symphonic Publishing Administration, these will be the two main types of royalties we’ll collect for you. Even though we’ll be doing the dirty administrative work for you, it’s vital to understand how they work and how you can best leverage them to maximize your earnings.
Some helpful links:
1. Performance Royalties
WHO collects them?
Performance Rights Organizations (PROs). Each major world territory has a PRO.
WHAT are they?
Performance Royalties are earned when a song is broadcasted or performed publicly in some way.
HOW do I know if I’m earning performance royalties?
You are earning performance royalties whenever your songs are being broadcasted and publicly performed.
You’re definitely earning performance royalties if your song 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)
Performance royalties are a special royalty type. Just because you’re distributing your music with a digital distributor like Symphonic doesn’t necessarily mean you’re earning performance royalties.
HOWEVER, you can increase your chances of earning them in many different ways.
2. Mechanical Royalties
WHO collects them?
Mechanical royalties are collected from mechanical collection societies. Each major world territory has a mechanical collection society.
WHAT are they?
Mechanical royalties are earned per-unit when a song is sold on a “mechanically reproduced” physical medium (think vinyl, physical CDs), and nowadays, this includes digital downloads and internet streaming. “Mechanical” can sound like a confusing word to us in the digital age. The word “mechanical” stems from the fact that back in the early days of the music industry, compositions were physically or mechanically manufactured and reproduced onto physical products for public consumption.
HOW do I know if I’m earning mechanical royalties?
You’re earning mechanical royalties when your song is:
- Manufactured and sold on physical CD/vinyl products
- Reproduced into ringtones and sold as a ringtone
- Streamed through interactive streaming services (on Spotify, Rdio, Beats, etc.)
- Sold in digital retailers for digital downloads (on iTunes, Beatport, Amazon, etc.) outside of the USA.
This is the key fact here: In the USA, the mechanical royalty share goes straight from iTunes to the distributor to the label. But in countries outside of the USA, your mechanical royalty is getting picked up from iTunes and thrown elsewhere.
If you are distributing your music to stores and streaming platforms worldwide using a digital music distributor like Symphonic Distribution and you’re seeing sales and streams result, you are definitely earning mechanical royalties.
Need some more clarification? These should help:
3. Print Royalties
Print royalties are earned when a composition is transcribed onto sheet paper, printed in songbooks, and published for the general population to purchase and play your music at home on their personal instruments for fun. These royalties are really only applicable to a songwriter if he/she has a Top 40 Radio Hit – think little pre-teens taking piano lessons and buying Taylor Swift sheet music online, or purchasing a Guns N’Roses hit on sheet music to sight read on guitar.
4. Ringtone Royalties
If your song is reproduced as a ringtone and sold as a ringtone, you earn a royalty.
Symphonic Publishing Administration was designed for the worldwide collection of all music publishing royalties, specifically tailored for the independent artist who writes his/her own songs. The core of what we’ll be collecting for you are your mechanical royalties and performance royalties. We do this by registering each one of your songs in every individual performance AND mechanical rights organization in over 60 territories.
No matter how your song was, is, or will be used – downloads, streams, internet radio plays, performances by DJs, anything – our publishing administration structure guarantees we will be collecting the maximum amount of mechanical and performance royalties you deserve.