Distrokid Is Taking Over Your Brain
I use Distrokid
religiously, and I absolutely love it. I’ve tried several different distribution companies, and they’re all pretty nice, but Distrokid beats them all, in my opinion, with how affordable and user-friendly their platform is. If you're not signed up for a distributor yet, I think you would do well with the company to get your music on Spotify, iTunes, and more.
That being said, I think the ease and popularity of Distrokid make people too comfortable. People get so trusting and relaxed in their release process with a reputable company like Distrokid and forget that they should protect their music. Don’t let it be you (it was once me, but we won’t talk about that).
Is Copyright Included with Distrokid?
Many will assume that because Distrokid is so awesome, they also will protect your work from thieves. I mean, they have so many cool features and are used by so many great creators, so wouldn’t that be easy to believe?
No, Distrokid does not copyright your music.
Others will even assume that Distrokid is so awesome that you won’t ever need to get your music copyrighted. I mean, everything on the internet can be tracked to the creation date, so I just have to show the dates, and I’ll be fine in terms of Copyright, right?
No, you will not be fine, and your work will be rightfully stolen.
Okay, I’m kidding. Proving that you own the copyright for your song is possible if you can gather creation dates and makeshift your own little folder of proof, but will it be enough? Will it hold as high in court as if you had copyrighted the work with the official government copyright office?
What Does Distrokid Say About Copyright?
In the help section of their site, Distrokid offers an answer to those who are wondering if they need to copyright their music in addition to distributing it through their platform.
“This is not legal advice, and we are not your lawyer. But... under the present copyright law, which became effective January 1, 1978, a work is automatically protected by copyright when it is created. A work is created when it is “fixed” or embodied in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. Neither registration in the Copyright Office nor publication is required for copyright protection under the law.”
It’s kind of odd because this statement is what they choose to emphasize first.
Hey, maybe they have way more experience than me with the Copyright Office and know things that I don’t, but it sounds to me like they’re saying music makers don’t really need to copyright their work, and it's all a load of BS to just take your money.
But then they follow up with this paragraph:
“There are, however, certain advantages to registration, including the establishment of a public record of the copyright claim. Copyright registration must generally be made before an infringement suit can be brought. Timely registration may also provide a broader range of remedies in an infringement suit.”
So it sounds to me like they’re saying that you will save on time and headache rather than not actually win an infringement case. But they purposely don’t say too much here to leave you with a large grey area full of questions. I, for one, don’t have the time for those questions and would instead just get my songs copyrighted.
Do I Need To Copyright My Music Before Distribution?
It's not a must to copyright your music before you distribute it. If you want to take the risk and you don't feel like copyrighting is in your budget, go ahead and do so. You do have proof of upload when you publish your work on social media, streaming sites, and even when you communicate in emails. I understand people who feel like this is enough to get by.
But I strongly recommend copyrighting your music as a creator, especially if you have excellent content. I like to copyright my own work in bundles to save money on the process. This is referred to as multiple works claims, and you can get more info on that type of claim here on the Copyright.gov site.
How To Copyright Your Music
has a claim registration portal that you can easily sign up for and use. You will be registering a claim to the ownership of your work. The sign-up is easy, but the site itself is dated as hell and hard to navigate. Don’t be overwhelmed like I was.
You will first need to determine if you want to do the standard claim or the cheaper solo author claim. If you are like me and fully own the music and lyrics to some or all of your songs, you can save money by making a solo author claim for $45. If not, you will likely be paying $20 more.
If you’re copyrighting just lyrics or musical creation, you will want to use the Work of Performance option when choosing your claim type.
If you're copyrighting the musical creation, the lyrics, and the recording, you will need to use the Sound Recording option when you choose the claim type.
Having the ownership of a sound recording may be confusing, but if you were, for example, recorded by a production studio in a play, or recorded by an official label, you would not be able to copyright a sound recording. On the flip side, if you've recorded in your home studio
, that recording is all yours.
I don't mean to harp on Distrokid since I actually like them and actively use them for my own releases. I just want artists to be careful about protecting their work when distributing them through popular companies like these.
If you are considering releasing them through Distrokid, go for it! Make sure you copyright the songs that you'll be publishing through them! Sign up for Distrokid through my link here, and you'll get 7% off of their already affordable distribution plan!
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