There are more ways than ever to share your music album with the world, which is important to an artist. However, this rapid expansion of options has perhaps made publishing an album a bit more confusing. However, the process is worth going through, as publishing is often a key element in earning royalties. You can become a music publisher and publish the album yourself, or work with various publishing companies to register and distribute your music.
Method 1 of 3: Publish Music Through a PRO
Step 1. Publish your album if you want to earn money from it
In the simplest of terms, you want to publish your music for the money. If you want all the money to come from a public performance of your song (such as those played on the radio), the song (or album) must be published by a music publisher and registered with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO, for its acronym in English).
- You can try to find a reputable music publisher who is willing to take care of you as a customer, or publish your own music and sign up with a PRO.
- You may be able to register your music with a PRO and earn royalties without working or becoming a publisher. Consult an attorney to learn the laws and regulations where you live or to create music.
Step 2. Select a Performance Rights Organization
In the United States, you can choose between three PROs: ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. Look them up on the internet, gather information about them and choose the one that best suits your needs.
- As a publisher, you can register with multiple PROs, but you can only (and only need to) register a single job (such as an album) with one PRO.
- Outside of the United States, look for PROs that operate in your country, such as SOCAN in Canada.
Step 3. Choose a name for your publishing business
To become the publisher of your own album, you will need to create a business name. It is suggested that you choose three names, in case your first preference is already used. PROs (and you) do not want the money you should receive to go to someone else, so they will reject names that are similar to names already registered with your organization or another.
Step 4. Form your business as a legal entity
After the name clarification with the chosen PRO, you must form a company in your state or country. This process will vary depending on where you live or operate, but it can be quite simple if the business will be just you.
- However, if there is more than one person involved in the business (such as co-writers, bandmates, etc.), it is strongly recommended that you form a more structured business, for example, a Limited Liability Company (LLC).) or a corporation. The operating agreement or company bylaws should state who does what, who owns what, how members are compensated, how new members join, and how members can leave.
- It is entirely possible to establish an LLC or alternative business entity without assistance, but it may be easier for you to consult with a knowledgeable attorney.
Step 5. Register the album (as its publisher) with the chosen PRO
After acceptance of your publisher request by the organization, each of the songs or albums published by the publishing company must be registered with the organization. Register your new album and be sure to include the publisher's name (the company you created and the PRO on distributed copies of the album (physical or digital).
For example: if your songs play, the radio station informs ASCAP that they were played and sends a check to ASCAP. Then ASCAP looks for the album in its registry, finds it listed under "Your Music Publications Name" and writes you a check
Method 2 of 3: Work with an external editor
Step 1. Consider using an established music editor
Do this especially if you prefer a more direct approach to publishing your album. The Publishing Rights Organizations (PROs) operating in your country probably have online lists of affiliated publishers, possibly in the titles of the songs they have published. You can also check the notes of your favorite CDs and see who the publishers are.
Getting a successful editor is far from certain, of course. Try networking with various publishers, artists, and others in the music business, and prepare to be rejected one or more times
Step 2. Consider using a publishing manager instead
A publishing manager performs essentially the same functions as a traditional editor, but is a more recent creation of the digital age. If you're particularly concerned about proper royalty collection when your album is downloaded, streamed, or used online, it's worth considering registering with a publishing manager, like TuneCore, for example.
- A publishing manager can charge a one-time fee (for example, $ 75) and a percentage of their royalties (perhaps 10-20%) for their services.
- Make sure the posts manager has an existing working relationship with the PRO you use to streamline the royalty collection and distribution process.
Step 3. Work directly with an online music service as another option
If you want to focus on publishing and broadcasting your album through a particular online music service (like iTunes, Google Play, etc.), you can work with them directly. Again, similar to a traditional editor or third-party post manager, you'll pay a fee and pay a percentage of the royalties or revenue in exchange for them doing the clerical work for you.
For example, Google Play Artist Hub charges an initial fee and 30% of your income in exchange for the global distribution of your album on the different music platforms of the company
Step 4. Decide if a little more money or time is the most valuable to you
Basically, if you are willing to spend the time to do the administrative work, you can become the publisher of your own album and collect 100% of the royalties you earn. However, if administrative tasks aren't your strong suit, or you simply prefer to focus your energies on creating and sharing your music, it may be worth the upfront payments and royalty reductions to sign up with an existing publisher or manager.
Method 3 of 3: Share your album with the public
Step 1. Register the copyright of your album
Technically speaking, your music is copyrighted as soon as you create it. However, in practical terms, registering your copyright in accordance with the procedures in the country where you live or operate applies legal "teeth" to the copyright you own.
- In the United States, for example, you can submit a digital or physical copy of your album to www.copyright.gov, pay the fee (currently $ 35), wait several months for processing, and receive a copyright registration that will protect ownership of your musical creation in the United States and many international courts.
- Whether you work with an editor, act as your own editor, or don't use an editor at all, copyright your work. Protect the legal rights to your album.
Step 2. Upload your music
Just like registering your copyright, signing up for a PRO or using an editor (whether it's you or someone else) is not a legal requirement. On the contrary, it is simply a better way to protect your rights and claim any money owed to you through the album. If for you, “publishing” simply means putting the album in the hands of the public, you can upload your music to social media pages, personal websites, Spotify, and so on of your choosing.
If you're a freelance artist looking to distribute your album freely and start making a name for yourself, this simpler approach might just work. If you're trying to control spread and revenue, follow a more structured publishing approach
Step 3. Produce CDs and sell or deliver them
Again, depending on your definition and expectations, publishing can be as simple as retrieving a batch of CDs from your album and selling (or handing out) them at a coffee shop, flea market, or elsewhere. This may be the easiest route if you are a new, independent artist trying to spread the word locally.