6 Tips For Protecting Your Songs Before Shopping Them Around

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer, Senior Instructor, Dalhousie University, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
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Judging by the emails I get, many of you are worried about how to shop your songs around without worrying that someone will steal them. Trying to get other singers interested in your music is a tricky business, and requires enormous patience. Keep in mind that what you’re really interested in is not selling, but enticing others to hopefully perform and/or record your creations. That creates royalties for you. I did a post recently about that whole process, but this article is more about protection for your songs.

Here are some tips for making sure that your songs remain yours:

  1. At the bottom of the lyric sheet, or the music sheet if you’ve got it in musical notation, put the copyright symbol (a ‘c’ in a circle), the year, and then your name. This is not a necessary step to ensure copyright, but it helps to immediately identify the song as yours.
  2. Record your song if you can’t get it into a written format.
  3. Register the song with your country’s copyright office. A quick search online will give you the address of the appropriate office. There is a fee for registering songs, but if you really fear that someone will steal them, the fee (usually $50 or so in North America) will be worth it.
  4. If you have several (or many) songs to register, simply compile them into a book of your songs, and then register the copyright of that book with the copyright office. That way, you pay only one registration fee, and all the songs within that book are protected.
  5. Some people send a registered letter to themselves with their song and/or lyrics inside, hoping that this will prove copyright. This is unreliable, and I have heard from those in the legal profession that it DOES NOT stand up in court.
  6. Be very careful sending your music to any online agency that offers to shop your music around to professional singers. Ask for references from any company who wants to take your song to do anything with it. Do an online search for the company name to make sure they’re legit. If you can’t find any information about them, don’t send them your music! And don’t send them any song that you haven’t registered with your country’s copyright office.


“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” E-book BundleBad songs WILL NOT get the attention of ANYONE. If you want to know what to do to fix your songs and build an audience base, download “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6 e-book bundle right now. You’ll be downloading the materials moments from now.

Posted in Copyright Issues, Songwriting Business and tagged , , , , , , , , .


  1. SmashCopyright has problems… we purchased a 12 month membership for unlimited uploads and it worked fine for the first 4 songs right after we signed up. Now it’s impossible to contact their support (they don’t respond to e-mail request for help), and even though the site says it receives our uploads, we never NEVER get the e-mail confirmation like we previously did. Drag!!

  2. Have you heard of smashcopyright.com? It claims to protect songs with a digital time stamp and acts as a third party.

    • Thanks very much for that info, James. I haven’t fully researched it, so I’d like to know what you’re actually paying for. In other words, when you register the copyright using smashcopyright, are you registering it with them, or are they subsequently registering the copyright with the composer’s government?

      What I’m getting at is that I would want to know how solid that protection is before paying for it. Do you know if Smashcopyright has actually been involved in legally protecting a songwriter? Did their service succeed?


  3. Here’s a another tip… document the process on youtube, post the lyrics & film the creation of the process… then mark the video as private, it will be timestamped and it can collect dust until a dispute… turn it on… and the public will see Added Jan, 21, 2005… It would be very hard for someone to dispute a digital timestamps especially if someone saying they created it in 2010… :-). While it WILL NOT replace the Copyright office, it’s way better than “poor man’s” especially since they make ez-seal envelopes that you can re-affix with some heat & patience

  4. You made the copyright-stealing info 2complicated when in fact once you have your song in your PC as mp3 file is already dated and it is yours .No one can make an earlier mp3 copy . SO the bottom line is I want them 2 steal my song and make it a hit . OMG please steal my song . I can prove it is mine J

    • You may want to check that out with a copyright lawyer. All an MP3 proves is the day you *recorded* the tune, not the day it was written. And in fact, it doesn’t even tell you who recorded it, so an MP3 is not much proof of anything other than someone recorded a song once.


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