What Are Royalties in Music [See How I've Gotten Paid] Sunday April 11 2021, 1:20 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
What Are Royalties in Music [See How I've Gotten Paid]

Types Of Royalties In Music

Besides getting paid for CD sales, merchandise sales, and shows, there are other types of income that you can collect in the music world. When submitting your songs to radio stations, Youtube promoters, Spotify playlists, and licensing companies, these companies will more than likely owe you some form of monetary payment. As long as you have protected and registered your music by signing up with the companies mentioned in the list below, you will be receiving checks in the mail!

Over the years, I've received several checks from multiple sources that allowed me to ball out at some well-known places including Targét and Chic-Fil-A. 

Performance Royalties

When a song is played or performed in a public setting, the owner of the composition and the publisher are owed performance royalties which are split 50/50. These types of performances can include terrestrial radio, music played in stores, and music on streaming sites like Pandora or YouTube.

Mechanical Royalties

Mechanical royalties are owed to the composer and publisher of a musical work each time a song is sold. This is important for songwriters that are not the actual artists or performers of the songs being sold, and a bonus for those who write and perform their music.

Synchronization Royalties

When songs are used in TV, film, radio, and the like, royalties are owed to the composer of the song and the publishing company that marketed the song successfully. The royalties are split 50/50, and sometimes include an upfront, one-time ‘Sync Fee’ for acquiring the song’s synch rights.

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PROs for songwriters, or Performance Rights Organizations, are societies responsible for collecting income on behalf of songwriters when a song is performed for public broadcast. This means they collect money on your behalf for the music you’ve written when it’s played or performed. This includes things like getting played on the radio, being featured in a commercial, or any live broadcasted event. PRO's literally track down companies for you to make sure you get paid for your hard work and creations.

Current Songwriter PROs you can sign up with (you only need one):

ASCAP.com/join ($50 fee)

BMI.com/join (free!)

For SESAC, you have to be exclusively invited. 

Get Your Royalties from Music Distributors

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Chances are, not only did you write the song, but you performed it and possibly produced it as well. In order to get your songs placed on streaming sites like Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music, you will need to sign up with a music distributor. Payments from music distributors will include mechanical and performance royalties. There are dozens of trusted distributors out there for you to choose from, while the top 3 are listed below. I recommend using Distrokid since it's very user-friendly and the most affordable option. These sites will allow you to split the royalties among the performers, writers, producers, and any other parties involved. 

Current distributors that you can sign up with (you only need one):

DistroKid.com (only $20 bucks for an unlimited amount of songs)

Tunecore.com (price varies)

CDBaby.com (price varies)

Related Post: See How To Make Money On Spotify

Get Your Royalties for the Song Master

There is a newer PRO organization collecting money for the sound recording owner, while the other 3 collect only for the songwriter. SoundExchange is free to register for and collects royalties for the party that owns the song master. This includes payment for plays on digital streaming services like Pandora and Music Choice. Chances are, you wrote the songs and own the sound recording, yet are leaving money on the table by not signing up to two companies. Join BMI + SoundExchange, or ASCAP + SoundExchange to cover all of the royalties owed to you. 

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Get Synchronization Royalties

Licensing and publishing companies find great music to place in TV, Film, Radio, Games, and similar exposure opportunities. There are hundreds of licensing companies online, with many new ones soon to be created. A large percentage of these companies accept unsolicited submissions, meaning that they take the time out to listen to all types of submissions from musicians and artists around the world. Some companies like Audio Socket and Rumble Fish are easy to find with a quick google search, while others are smaller boutique agencies that deal with a few clients. 

I'm still waiting on my chance to get synchronization royalty income, but I will be sure to blog about it when it happens!


Get more tips on royalties and music sales by joining the community! Sign up here and get your free digital copy of my book "The Unsigned Music Playbook".

Yona Marie

This blog was written by singer, songwriter and producer Yona Marie. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!

If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page.