Writing and performing music is rewarding enough without ever making a dime. . . right?
Eff, no! If you’re like most serious musicians, you want to be able to support yourself solely on your music. Sure, chances are you’re not going to be on a yacht popping bottles of Cristal anytime soon, but you can at least start making some decent money (and get great exposure) by copywriting and licensing your music.
If that sounds like a lot of paperwork, rest assured it’s not. There are several huge organizations who will handle the whole business end of tracking your music and making sure you get paid anytime one of your songs is played in a public medium. All you have to do is register with one of the three performing rights organizations in the U.S. —ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. All are similar in that they work as middlemen between you (the artist) and the organization interested in licensing your music (television and radio stations and networks, websites, ringtones and ringbacks, satellite audio services like XM and Sirius, nightclubs, discos, hotels, bars, restaurants and other venues, digital jukeboxes and live concerts).
Getting yourself in a position to make money off your music is easy. Here are the steps:
• Register with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. You can do this online for a $50 fee typically. All three disburse royalties quarterly.
• Register with Nielson Soundscan. It’s free, and allows you to track the sales of your hard-copy products (provided you put the Soundscan bar code on your packaging.) Each time your CD, DVD, etc., is scanned, the sale is logged by both Nielson and ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, so you’re sure to get paid.
Seems simple, right? Well, it is. And you can keep track of all your royalties online so you know what to expect when paytime comes around. Even if you’re not making enough to buy a house in the Hollywood Hills, you might be able to at least pay your electric bill. And that’s a start.