Making Money With Songwriting: A Few Important Facts

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer, Senior Instructor, Dalhousie University, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” E-book Bundle

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Selling Your MusicFor those of you wanting to make money selling your songs, let’s clear up an important point: you don’t make money by “selling” music. What you want to do is to get others to perform and record your songs. Because every time that happens, your rights (i.e., royalties) kick in, and you make money. But before you shop your songs around, you need to be sure that they’re protected.
The final chapter of “Essential Secrets of Songwriting” deals with all the legal issues of protecting your songs. You need to give that chapter a good read, because learning all about copyright and other forms of protection is an important part of becoming a successful songwriter. I’ve mentioned these points before in previous points, but here they are, for your perusal:
  1. Copyright in most countries is automatic, but offers very little protection in a court of law. You need to register the copyright of  your songs, if you plan to shop them around to singers, producers, managers, etc. Most countries have a website that will explain this process to you. In a search engine, type in the name of  your country, and these words: copyright protection songs. (“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” gives the addresses for several countries’ copyright offices.)
  2. Mailing a copy of your song to yourself by registered mail is often rumoured to be a way to protect yourself if someone claims to have written your song. But you need to know that this is actually not a reliable way to protect yourself, and will probably not stand up in court. Register your copyright with your country’s government.
  3. Publishing your music is recommended if you are planning to get another person to record your songs. It’s possible to set up your own publishing company to do this. These sorts of small companies are usually handled at the state or provincial government level.
  4. If someone else records your songs, and sells copies of the recording, you are entitled to mechanical rights. Mechanical royalties are paid to the publisher, and the publisher must then split that royalty with you.

If you’re wanting to get others to perform your songs, the trickiest part of the process is getting your music out there and heard by someone in the industry. It’s very hard for people starting out to manage this on their own. There are companies that offer to send contacts to you, and you just need to do your research.

You’ll want to check out TAXI, SongLink, or some other such company, but always remember that these companies are not miracle workers, and they can’t make professional performers even listen to your music. They take a hefty fee, so as I say, do your research. They forward your music to interested professionals. But remember: there are no guarantees, and as a first step you‘ll need to have demo recordings that are essentially professional quality.

One final piece of advice: a great way to save money with copyright registration is to compile several of  your songs into a “book”, and register the copyright of that book. That way, you’ve managed to protect all of the music in that book for one registration fee.

It’s no good trying to sell a song that has problems. Have you read “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting”? It will show you every aspect of how hit songs work, and what you can do to get your songs in professional shape. Read more…

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  1. Pingback: 6 Tips For Protecting Your Songs Before Shopping Them Around « The Essential Secrets of Songwriting Blog

  2. Good stuff in this article. Composers can also make money by working with production music libraries who license music for use in all types of audio and visual projects. At, we work closely with Taxi as well to connect us to great artists. Your comment “It’s no good trying to sell a song that has problems.” is good advice. Make the song great. Then the money might follow.

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