Register your copyright: How to register your songs for free
Guide to register free music, register the copyright of all your songs online for free in Safe Creative and collect royalties with BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, SongTrust and SoundExchange.
Why register my songs?
Registering your songs is to obtain the copyright of your work and collect royalties for the use of it. In addition, this way you make sure that no one can plagiarize your songs. Also, you will avoid plagiarism claims in case someone else thinks your artwork is similar to theirs if you register it first. In short, it is to take care of what is yours, and have the right to enjoy its use in case you are successful. Therefore, make sure that it becomes a monetary income for you and not for another.
Where to register my songs?
You must first register the copyright of your songs in intellectual property registries. Then, you can do it at copyright and performance organizations to charge for their use.
Public Registry of Intellectual Property
The first thing that you should consider is the registration as an author or composer of an artistic work, thus, you must register your songs in the local public registry office of your country or in which you are going to exploit your work. In this way you get the copyright. Depending on each country, the registration procedures are more or less complex, and are usually not free.
Online Copyright Public Registry
Also, you can do it in a private online copyright registry . Safe Creative allows you to register your music for free up to a certain amount of material. Once that limit is exceeded, they begin to charge a small commission. But you should consider that Safe Creative serves as proof but is not a proper intellectual property record. Therefore, we suggest that you use it in case you are not sure even if you will be able to exploit your musical works. In this way, you will be protecting your music in a limited way, but for free. Once you see that you can start to use your work economically, you can move forward with registration in a public registry of intellectual property. Below, you can learn more about Safe Creative.
Once you have obtained the copyright of your musical works, you can consider obtaining royalties for the use and exploitation of your songs. In this case, you must register your songs with the performance rights organizations, also known as PROs. There are different PROs that have different scopes. The best known are BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. Complementary to the PROs, there is also SongTrust that covers many of the functions of the PROs and also reaches other platforms that the PROs do not. Finally, there is SoundExchange that collects and pays performers rights, while PROs collect royalties. Below, we explain each of these organizations, their operation and scope, and finally their costs.
It is a private online copyright registry, which allows you to register a song for free and / or paid for your musical works. Here you only register that you are the author of a song to obtain copyright. This registry is ideal for when you still do not know if you will be able to exploit your artistic works. But it is not in the business of collecting royalties for the use of the musical work. You can choose to make your song public and anyone can listen to it, or you can keep it private.
How to register your song in Safe Creative?
Safe Creative is an online platform, where you upload your musical works through a very friendly interface. Where you can enter different types of data such as author or co-authors, if you allow its reproduction or not, if it is public or not, if it is music only or lyrics, among other options.
How much does it cost to register a musical work in Safe Creative?
Registering your songs with Safe Creative is free up to 500 MB, that is, between 30 or 50 jobs. Once that limit is exceeded, it starts to cost $ 10 per song or $ 45 per year.
Am I completely safe registering my music in Safe Creative?
No, although it is a great step, the most advisable and safe thing is that you do the registration of copyright in the public office of registration of intellectual property of trademarks and patents of your country. Safe Creative serves as proof to prove that you are the author of a work. However, you do not have the right of authorship or copyright, until you register your song in the public registry of the different countries. For this reason, we recommend the use of Safe Creative, so as not to make an investment of money and time that requires a public author registry, if you are not sure if you will be able to economically exploit your musical works.
BMI – Broadcast Music Inc.
Broadcast Music Inc., better known as BMI, is the largest copyright organization in the United States. BMI helps you manage the licenses and copyrights of your songs. Thus, BMI collects license fees from companies that use music on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to members of the organization whose works have been performed. BMI has agreements with other copyright organizations outside the United States to collect royalties for reproductions in other countries.
How to register songs with BMI?
The most efficient way to register your song or musical work with BMI is through your online account. Songs recorded online are available in the BMI repertoire catalog almost immediately. You can also use the downloadable job registration form.
How much does it cost to register a song with BMI?
Registering your songs with BMI is absolutely free. When your works are used, BMI deducts a percentage from the payment. Early registration of works is important: if you do not register your works, you will not be paid when they are reproduced.
ASCAP – American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
ASCAP, -American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers- is an American organization, established in 1914, which was the first body of its kind formed to protect the rights of composers and to charge fees for public performances of their music. It is the second largest entity behind BMI. ASCAP has agreements with other PROs outside the United States to collect copyright in other countries.
How to register songs in ASCAP?
The smartest way to register your songs or musical works with ASCAP is to do it online on their website. ASCAP teaches how to do it in the following video.
How much does it cost to register music in ASCAP?
If you are a member of ASCAP it is free to register your songs. To become a member of ASCAP, you have to pay a one-time income fee of US $ 50 for submitting an application. ASCAP does not charge annual fees or fees. Like BMI, then service fees are deducted from the royalty payment.
SESAC – Society of European Stage Authors and Composers
SESAC -Society of European Platform Authors and Composers-, founded in 1930, is one of the three most important copyright organizations together with BMI and ASCAP. Unlike the previous two, SESAC does not offer an open membership, but the interested party must be invited or approved to join. SESAC, like the previous ones, works in the United States, but they have agreements with other PROs in other countries to be able to collect copyright in other countries.
How to register music in SESAC?
All musical works must be registered either through the Internet through the SESAC website or with the SESAC Works Registration Form.
How much does it cost to register your songs in SESAC?
If you are invited to become a member of SESAC, registering your songs is free. To become a member of ASCAP, you have to pay a one-time income fee of US $ 50 for submitting an application. ASCAP does not charge annual fees or fees. Like BMI, then service fees are deducted from the royalty payment.
BMI, ASCAP or SESAC: Which is better to register my songs and collect royalties?
BMI and ASCAP are very similar in how they work, how they collect and pay royalties for your performances. The costs in both are relatively low and many of their services are free. Also its advantages and benefits are similar. The only point that BMI takes a small advantage is in the speed of payments. BMI pays on average at 5.5 months, while ASCAP pays at 6.5 months. Thus, if you are a songwriter, BMI is a better option for you. On the other hand, if you are a traveling musician, you may be interested in the best discounts related to live tours that ASCAP offers. Finally, if you are a music producer or publisher, BMI charges you USD 150 or 250 per registration, while in ASCAP you only have to pay a general registration fee of USD 50, in that case, ASCAP is also the smartest option.
SESAC is different since in order to enter you must be invited or request registration and be accepted. Normally, to receive an invitation from SESAC you need a decent amount of influence in the musical world. In this way, SESAC has a much smaller size, which allows it to have better attention to its artists, develop relationships and work on the evolution of their professional careers. Instead, at BMI and ASCAP you’ll be one in a million songwriters.
It is one of the world’s leading digital performance rights organizations (PRO); But unlike BMI, ASCAP and SESAC, it collects and pays royalties to the intellectual authors of a work, SoundExchange pays the artists and owners of the recording of a song, sound or any type of musical work. That is, who recorded a song authored by a third party.
How to register your recording on SoundExchange?
SoundExchange is a virtual PRO, where you register your recordings all online on its Website .
How much does it cost to register a musical work on SoundExchange?
Registering your works on SoundExchange is free, as is your personal registration.
Songtrust is a global digital rights management platform that enables songwriters and artists to manage their music publications and related rights. Thus, he acts as an editorial manager for his clients. In this way, this global platform registers songs and collects royalties on your behalf without owning any percentage of your copyrights. With Songtrust as your administrator, your works will be connected to Performing Rights Organizations (PRO), as well as mechanical licensing agents internationally.
Performing Rights Organizations (PRO) such as BMI, ASCAP and SESAC collect royalties for performance in their territory of origin, that is, the US. Although they also charge internationally, they do so through reciprocal agreements with other foreign PROs, which results in collection delays. Instead SongTrust registers your works directly with PRO from all over the world to collect their royalties directly from the territories in which they were generated. This allows you to get paid faster and with more detailed royalty statements.
Other differences with the PRO
In addition, PROs do not charge mechanical royalties generated by sales and transmissions. SongTrust is affiliated with mechanical collection societies and some digital services themselves in order to collect their mechanical royalties globally. Thus, you will charge for YouTube views, which traditional PROs do not arrive.
How much does it cost to register music on SongTrust?
SongTrust charges US $ 100 upfront per songwriter to cover registration and administrative costs. Plus, it charges a 15% commission on the royalties it collects on your behalf.
SongTrust only collects your publisher royalties while author royalties will be received directly from the Performing Rights Organizations (PRO) with which SongTrust previously connected you .
Should I register my songs yes or yes in a PRO?
No, the registrations of your music in an organization of rights of interpretation or author, you should only do it if you want your works to be of non-exclusive use. On the other hand, if the work you have done is for exclusive use, you must register it through your music publisher. Normally, once you publish it in one form or another, it will remain that way permanently, especially when you first published it non-exclusively.
We leave you this interesting video that also talks about distributors, and the scope of each of the PROs.
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