In this article I will teach you the ins and outs of performance royalties. Something you have to learn about if you want to become a professional songwriter.
What is the most difficult profession in the world? Is it the job of a songwriter? It could very well be because there are no guarantees of a success, and thus earning a steady income is very difficult.
The fact is, even the most celebrated songwriter can come up with just a few hits in a lifetime. The competition is stiff, and the preferences of the audience also keep changing, thus making the life of a songwriter very difficult.
However just a few successes could make a huge difference. That’s because of Performance Royalties. In other words, once the songwriter is able to produce a hit, the person can keep earning from it for a long time because of the Performance Royalties that he/she earns from it.
Sometimes the royalties could be huge, and sometimes the money earned is not so great. It all depends on how successful the song becomes. For instance, if it stays in the chart for a few months, the songwriter could hope to earn decent money from it for up to 6 months or even a year, depending on its shelf-life.
On the other hand, some songwriters have been known to earn the royalties for a lifetime from really big hits. The money earned here could be substantial.
Understanding Performance Royalties
If you are a songwriter, you are much like an entrepreneur, and your asset here is your song. So if someone uses your song, you should be paid for it, particularly if it is being used for any commercial purpose. You can claim the payment legally because the song is your copyright.
So Performance Royalties can be defined as, “the legal right to use the original song in exchange of financial compensation to the songwriter”. For instance, if a restaurant plays your song, then the restaurant owner should pay you for its use as Performance Royalties.
Performance Royalties Could Include Any of These
- Any performance of the original composition or song, whether it is broadcasted, recorded or performed live.
- Any performance given live by another musician.
- When a performance is delivered by a musician for recording on a physical media.
- Whenever the composition or music is played.
- Any performance on the Web through digital transmissions.
In other words, the songwriter can hope to earn Performance Royalties in the following ways,
- Whenever the original song is played on the radio.
- Whenever it is performed by any artist anywhere in the world.
- Whenever it is performed at bars and clubs.
- Whenever the song is used as a soundtrack in movies.
- Whenever it is played at a television show.
- Whenever it is performed in any way at a business establishment for profit.
Tracking the Use of the Song
As the songwriter, you will only get your Performance Royalties once its use is properly tracked. This is of course a challenging job. How can you find out which artist, restaurant or radio station in the world is playing your song? Thankfully, there are organizations that can help the songwriter. Some of these organizations are BMI, ASCAP, SoundExchange and SESAC.
So as the songwriter, you will first need to register your song with any of these organizations. Once it is registered, it becomes a part of the organization and its users can use it legally. But sometimes, the users are charged on a per use basis. The organization will deduct the operating expenses, and the songwriter will receive the balance money.
These organizers have a varied list of users such as radio and television stations, concert presenters, skating rinks, restaurants, bars, hotels, theme parks, bowling alleys and many others like this. In other words, anyone who uses music commercially can become their users.