Songwriter and performer Helge Rognstad (The Fluffy Jackets) in action, performing original music at Sun Studio, Memphis TN.
About songwriting copyright and recording performance royalties
Copyrights, licensing rights, publishing rights, master recording rights, performance credits, royalties, catalogues, ISRC, ISWC, UPC / EAN, IPI, PRO, MRO, CMO...
The music industry is absolutely riddled with confusing copyright terminology and abbreviations. Similarly, the music industry is riddled with stories on how recording companies screw artists over; you probably heard of promoters who steals copyrights, labels who try to sign "360 deals", or bands who break up due to the main songwriter living a life of riley whereas the rest of the band struggle to make a living and still tour when they are 89. In this relatively short article, The Fluffy Jackets will single-handedly explain everything and solve all these issues in one go (or not, as the case may be). But - what is what? what is copyright? and how do you make sure you get to be the owner of the music that you put out? how do you get paid? What are the terms to be aware of in the confusing jungle of music copyright terms?
Legal disclaimer: Navigating copyrights for covers can be very complicated. This is a simple article intended to cover some of the basics that apply a good deal of the time for some artists, but always consult with a lawyer or do further research if you have a more involved situation to navigate. Be aware that copyright laws vary from country to country so always look for information intended for your own country and your own particular situation, and refer to information that is current. We are NOT lawyers so this article isn’t intended to provide ‘legal advice’ (nor it it updated). Thus: Do not take any content, explanations of terminology or information provided here for granted, and the content of this articl is only one opionon. Always seek your own independent legal advice and make your own mind up before entering into any kind of agreements...
When looking into copyright of songs, you will come across several confusing terms; so what does some of the terminology mean?
What is the difference: copyright of the song vs. copyright of the recording?
In general, if one person writes a song and then records it (and subsequently owns the master recording), then that same person will own the resulting copyright. However, when an artist performs a cover, the copyrights will then be split in two: the person who wrote the song (song writer) Vs. the person who recorded the song (publisher / performer). The songwriter will then receive 50% of the performance and mechanical royalties. The other is the owner of the musical recording and will get 50% (the publisher's share).
Performance Rights Organisation (PRO)
A Performing Rights Organisation (PRO) operates in the business of collecting performance royalties exclusively. In other words, PROs are responsible for collecting income on behalf of songwriters and music publishers when a song is publicly broadcast or performed on television or radio, in clubs and restaurants, on websites, or on other broadcasting systems. One example of a PRO is the Performance Rights Society (PRS) in the United Kingdom.
Mechanical Rights Organisation (MRO)
A Mechanical Rights Organisation (MRO) collects mechanical royalties only. MRO's collects royalties for songwriters, composers and publishers when their songs are reproduced as physical products, such as CDs, Vinyl, and DVDs, streamed or downloaded. One example of an MRO is the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) in the United Kingdom.
Collective Management Organisation (CMO)
A Collective Management Organisation (CMO) collects both performance and mechanical royalties. "PRS for Music" is an example of a CMO (that again comprises of two societies - PRS and MCPC - in the UK). TONO (Norway) is another example of a CMO organisation.
A summary: PRO vs. MRO vs CMO
PRO's collects performance royalties only, MRO collects mechanical royalties only, while CMO collects both performance and mechanical royalties.
IPI (formerly: CAE )
It stands for Interested Party Information (Composer) - This is typically a 9-to-11-digit number that identifies you as a songwriter, and it is assigned to you when you register at a collecting society (typically assigned when a songwriter affiliates with a PRO or CMO). In other words, an IPI number is an international identification number assigned to songwriters and publishers to uniquely identify rights holders. If you want to keep your artist name as composer / lyricist, make sure that the artist name is registered at a collecting society, and insert the IPI number while uploading your release).
It stands for International Standard Recording Code and identifies a particular recording of a track. All releases are required to have and assigned ISRC. A musical track can have only one ISRC code, but different versions (i.e. "Radio edit", remix etc) will qualify to get a different ISRC. Please consider that, when switching distributor, you should take note and use the same ISRC codes, especially if you want to keep your statistics consistent and avoid issues with your future sales reports.
The International Standard Recording Code (or ISRC) helps catalog individual sound recordings (or “master recordings”) around the world. It is a unique 12-character alphanumeric code assigned by a record label, distributor, or sound recording owner to a specific recording performed by an artist or band. Example: ISRC: number JM-K40-14-00212: The structure of the ISRC is set up to distinguish the recording from hundreds of thousands of others worldwide. The first two characters are the country code — usually the home country of the label or distributor. The next three characters are an alphanumeric code issued by the ISRC agency; it sometimes reflects the record label or distributor and their release number. The next two digits are the issue date of the ISRC. (In this example, it means the ISRC was issued in 2014.) The last five digits are a unique identifier for the person (or company) registering the ISRC. It may also reflect the release’s catalog number and the song’s track number within a release. Overall, the ISRC verifies the artist name, track title, album name, label name and Universal Product Code (UPC). The same ISRC applies to a recording whether it’s released as a physical product, digital download, or stream. A song that is released as part of a single and album will have a single ISRC, since it’s the same recording. One song will have multiple ISRCs if several recordings of the same composition exist, whether it’s a live performance, a cover version by another artist, a demo, or another previously unreleased recording.
The International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC) is an 11-character alphanumeric code or international identification system cataloging individual compositions (usually songs) rather than recordings. An ISWC is an identifier usually assigned by a collection society — ASCAP in North America, for instance — to a musical work. It tracks the song title, songwriter(s), music publisher(s), and corresponding ownership shares.
ISRC vs ISWC
A composition only gets one ISWC even if it's an arrangement or adaptation of an original composition. However, if the new version of a song has different songwriting splits than the original, then it is a different composition and would get a new ISWC. An ISWC can be linked to any number of ISRCs, while each ISRC is linked only to one specific recording. Think of the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues”; it has been covered by multiple artists (including Cash himself) on many different studio recordings and live albums. There’s only one ISWC for the song, but dozens of ISRCs exist for the different recordings.
UPC or EAN ?
This is an internationally unique product code often seen as a “barcode” on products. There is a European (EAN) and a US system (UPC). A UPC is a 12-digit barcode used in North America to identify most products. The rest of the world uses 13-digit EAN barcodes to identify products. However, both types of barcodes are part of GS1's international standards, so both are accepted globally. In the past, UPC (barcodes) were utilized to track sales of physical product (CD's) at the retail level.
Who can help you claim revenue?
In most countries, you will have two types of companies who will help you to register your song(s) and performances and help collect + pay money. So, in Norway; TONO will collect money (and pay for) for public broadcast and releases to song writers and publishers. GRAMO, another company, does the same for recorded music - but pays out to performers and record companies. This is basically two different groups with two different ownership types. In Norway, if you are a songwriter who are also performing your own music, is natural to be a member at both places.
About TONO (the Norwegian CMO): When your songs, written lyrics and compositions are being published
TONO is the Collective Management Organization (CMO) that administers copyrights for music in Norway. It is owned and governed by its members; composers, music publishers and text-writers. TONO was established in 1928 and represents 40,000 songwriters, composers, lyricists, originators and music publishers in Norway. TONO ensures that you get paid when your original written song / composition is being used in a public context (concerts, radio/TV etc.). As a CMO, TONO is the company that collects both the "publishing" (songwriter) share and the "mechanical copyright" if your original songs are recorded by other recording artists. The audio recordings (recordings used on e.g. CD, film, digital media) are managed by NCB - NCB owns 50% of the shares in NMP – Network of Music Partners A/S – a joint venture owned by NCB and PRS for Music (the music copyright society in the UK). The members of NCB are the Nordic performing rights societies – Koda in Denmark, STEF in Iceland, STIM in Sweden, Teosto in Finland and TONO in Norway.
About The Fluffy Jackets' relationship with TONO
The Fluffy Jackets' main songwriter Helge Rognstad is an affiliate member of the songwriting / composer's organisation TONO in Norway (+47 22 05 72 00, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). TONO is responsible for collecting royalties for The Fluffy Jackets' original works, written and composed by Helge Rognstad (songwriter with IPI number = 1210059512 ). When registering the original songs, TONO will automatically issue an unique ISWC code for each song. PS: remembert that a song can only have one ISWC code, but several ISRC codes; the latter signifies several (ISRC) recordings of the same (ISWC) song... When registering a song at TONO in their online portal, you have to add the % of performance rights ("andel fremføring" in Norwegian) and % of the mechanical copyright ("andel lydfesting" in Norwegian). The contract with TONO (via application September 2023) is confirmed with the National ID number, a bank account + email (The Fluffy Jackets). The contract is for worldwide representation until terminated by giving a six-month written notice. It is very easy to register new material in TONO's online portal (www.tono.no) using your email address and password.
Things to keep in mind when registering original songs with TONO (online)
Since TONO is a CMO which collects both Publishing royalties ("Fremføring" in Norwegian) and Mechanical Copyright royalties ("Lydfesting" in Norwegian), it is obviously important to both inform TONO about the percentage ownership of both the songwriting (publishing) and the mechanical copyright when registering new works online. (Remember: Publishing is when the song you wrote is being used in a public place / or broadcasted, whereas Mechanical Copyright is when your song is being reproduced on CDs, Vinyl, and DVDs or online). In addition, you are asked to provide relevant ISRC codes for each song. Although, strictly speaking, you do not have to provide the relevant ISRC numbers to Tono, it will help TONO if you add this meta-data so that they easier can track and search for this information in order to verify payments. One useful thing to remember (and to avoid confusion); since TONO is dealing with the songwriter; there can be many ISRC codes (recorded songs) for every written song (think Beatles' song "Hey Jude"; there are many recorded versions of this song, each will have an associated unique ISRC code).
Key advice from TONO in order to receive due royalties:
The key things to remember in order for TONO to pay you money:
1. Register your original songs at "MITT TONO" (online) quickly at once you have made a new song for release. The application to join TONO needs to include your national ID number and a bank account + email address.
2. In addition to getting paid songwriting credits for released music, you also will earn money from songs performed at a concert. For this, you have to remember to inform about the gigs. Report each concert on "MITT TONO" (online) once your gig has been performed.
3. Remember to keep the information at "MITT TONO" updated; make sure to inform TONO about name changes, postal address, e-mail or bank account number.
4. Once the above is done, TONO is typically calculating the due payment four times each year. The money will automatically be paid into the account that you registered at "MITT TONO" (no invoice is neccessary).
About GRAMO - collecting agency: when your recorded music is being broadcasted
GRAMO is a non-profit organisation owned and run by 36,000 members. GRAMO make sure that artists, musicians and record companies who invest talent, time and money get paid when their recorded music is used on the radio or in the public space. In other words, GRAMO represents the musicians / artists and record companies, and manages the financial rights associated with recordings of music, so that remuneration is paid out when records are played on the radio or in a public place. On their website is a handy online calculator that calculates how much money is due vs. airplay in the various stations in Norway. (GRAMO is a different organisation vs TONO, because GRAMO is focused on earning revenue for artists and performers - not the songwriter). Gramo automatically get release info from The Orchard (The Sony music distribution service) and indigoboom (the independent subscription / distribution service for unsigned artists).
About The Fluffy Jackets' relationship wtih GRAMO
Helge Rognstad is an affiliate member of GRAMO (St. Olavsgate 28, 0166 Oslo, Norway, +47 22 00 77 77, firstname.lastname@example.org or Medlem@gramo.no) both as a "produsent" (producer) and "utøver" (performer) for The Fluffy Jackets (along with our own label FJCD Records). The GRAMO membership is registered with The Fluffy Jackets email along with the National ID number. The system is easily managed online (with secure two-factor authentication / so you need your telephone to log in). Once your bank details are added online (remember to keep updating this); you will automatically get the income when your songs (registered with the ISRC codes) are played on the radio etc.
General advice about distribution and registering song meta data / what to keep in mind
When you select your distributor, there are several things to consider:
1. First; how much and how often do you get paid? Check this by looking at: the commission rates? one-time administration fees vs ongoing cloud service fees? and payment terms? if they pay automatically vs upon invoice? how they transfer cash? paypal vs bank transfer? etc.
2. Second, beware that distributors want to take a cut of YOUR royalties if they can: some distribution companies will offer to recoup your royalties on your behalf - by charging a percentage commission before they pay these royalties to you (for example, CD Baby will take a 30% commission for this "service"). But, of course: if you are already registered directly with a PRO or a CMO, you obviously do not need that - so be careful what boxes you tick when you upload your songs and associated meta-data to your online distributor.
3. Third; you want to make sure you receive your royalties, right? you can help your CMO (or MRO and/or PRO) to collect those royalties by adding the relevant meta-data for each song, especially the IPI, ISWC, ISRC, but also the UPC, EAN codes - in addition to the track name and artist name.
4. Forth; Keep this in mind if you are looking at change your distribution (in future): the following sage advice is worth bearing in mind: Make sure that you obtain AND use exactly the same song(s) with exactly the same meta-data if you want to upload your songs to a new distributor (especially: artist names and roles, track names, audio, duration, ISRC, UPC). The reason is that this will help Spotify and others to recognise that the song is the same (this way you retain the historical data on the DSP, for example: the number of plays on Spotify + it will keep its place in all the variuos playlists / very important if the song is successful, etc). For this reason, make sure that you pload the album(s) with the exact same metadata and sound files on the new distributor. For Spotify, the advice is to wait for about 5 days after the new upload went online. During this time there shouldn't be a song and album overlap as the system will recognize the album(s) being duplicate and only show them on your artist page once. The next stage is to check that track linking succeeded. This is actually quite simple. Just go onto your artist page in the Spotify client and check if the album(s) are there twice. If they are it didn't work. Please contact your new distributor at this point so they can get in touch with Spotify. If it did succeed you can now take down the album(s) at your old distributor. As soon as the takedown is processed by Spotify your migration is complete.
About The Fluffy Jackets relationship with Cargo Records (Physical sales distributor + optional online distributor)
Cargo Records is managing the distribution of The Fluffy Jackets' physical and digital output. The agreement with Cargo Records dates back to the 5th of September 2013, and includes worldwide rights to distribution for an initial 3-year period. Cargo Records has a warehouse where they store LPs, CDs, DVDs and they distribute this around to retail outlets worldwide as well as online retailers (like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc). Cargo Records can also help generate ISRC, UPC and EAN codes. If you are releasing physical output, it is important to remember to get the EAN code generated before the album cover / sleeve is designed in order to add the EAN-barcode to your CD/ DVD/ LP- artwork. This is essential in order to track the distribution and also for warehouse storage/ inventory purposes. For this huge job, Cargo Records charge a very reasonable commission of sales (25%). As an additional option, Cargo Records can also take care of online streaming and download sites (like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, TikTok, etc) for a commission (15%). The payments require that invoices are sent / received outlining the amounts (based upon reports) with payment terms of 60 days. One important note about mechanical copyright: each label is responsible for paying the production cost, including any mechanical copyright for the physical output. So, if you are producing physical output, you need to manage the mechanical copyright yourself (via MCPS in the UK or similar) so that the songwriters and/or publishers get paid. You need to do this if you have a cover version on your album (and if you are registered via a collection house, be aware of the demands ref. how to manage this vs. your own songs).
Alternative online distributors - incl. CD Baby
If you want to manage your own distribution, CD Baby and Distrokid are probably two of the best options out there. Whereas Distrokid and most online music distribution companies (Tunecore) are run like a SAAS software offerings and charge a yearly subscription fee (but let you take 100% of your sales income), CD Baby instead charge you to upload an album, and take a % commission, so you only earn 91% of your sales. The upshot with CD Baby is that the music won't get taken down if you forget to pay your subscription. Moreover, CD Baby is better if you only release a few songs / albums each year. Conversely, Distrokid is probably the better option if you release a lot of music every year.The Orchard (owned by Sony Music) is another good option, though they charge more commission than CD Baby, but the difference being that The Orchard membership is curated whereas CD Baby is not.
Note: Different Countries = Different regulations (relevant for cover versions)
One important note when taking the "direct" distribution route, is to be aware of the mechanical copyrights - and the different rules that apply in various countries. So, in the US - it is our current understanding that "digital downloads" (as opposed to "digital streaming") are interpreted differently - so that you actually have to pay for mechanical royalties for "downloads". The reasoning is that streaming companies, like Spotify, have existing agreements with songwriters and publishers, wheras Download-companies have no such arrangement (MP3 file downloads on a computer is seen as a physical output). So, for example, if you are releasing a cover song at CD Baby, you need to pay for mechanical copyright associated with the downloads. At the time of writing, CD Baby recommends a company called Easy Song: https://www.easysong.com who charge a minimum investment of 25 downloads to clear one song which cost about 20 USD. So - does that makes sense economically, then? Well, at the time of writing, one MP3 file on Amazon.com retails for 0.91 USD. This means that - if you sell those same 25 cover songs on Amazon downloads - that will equal = 22.75 USD as your total income. After Easy Song takes their 20 USD (mechanical copyright of those 25 songs), and after the CD Baby takes their commission of 2.04 USD (9% commission), the artist is left with 0,71 USD as a grand total profit. Overall though, this is by and large an academic discussion, since online streaming is by far and miles away the more popular option (vs. downloads). Statista reports that, in 2022, revenue from digital album downloads amounted to 214.1 million U.S. dollars (less than half the figure recorded in 2017). Meanwhile, subscription and streaming revenues have been increasing annually and reached 13.76 billion in 2020 according to the same survey. This means that streaming makes up the vast majority of revenues for the music industry. Spotify will pay about 0,003 USD for each stream, so that 25 streams of your cover song = 0,075 USD, which is not great either (you basically need 250 Spotify streams to make 1 USD).
Additional market know-how and promo: Claim Your Artist Page on online Digital Service Providers (DSP)
Yet another tool for the DIY musicians out there: Independent bands should be aware that the largest digital streaming sites, such as Amazon, Spotify, Apple and Deezer - have their own artist page, where artists can visit and manage their online presence. Although these sites still depend on aggregators (distributors) to load the tracks, these online artist pages are useful in order to directly see the statistics on playlists, geographical reach. They also offer some online branding and limited marketing options in some cases.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions:
Where can I find out more about The Fluffy Jackets performance- and album credits?
The Fluffy Jackets actively seek to promote the songwriters, publishers, performing musicians, engineers, producers, mixers and mastering engineers who have been involved with our releases. We realise this is not easy to get hold of on online streaming services. This is why we make a point of publishing very detailed album credit information (incl. publishers, performers, contributors, UPC, ISRC, ISWC, IPI codes) on our Music page. In addition, if you purchase our physical output, you will also find the relevant information there (LP, CD, DVD, etc).
Who owns the original songs; The Fluffy Jackets song catalogue?
The Fluffy Jackets catalogue and master recordings are still owned by Helge Rognstad. Both Publishing and Mechanical Copyright is registered with TONO, the Norwegian CMO organisation, who collect royalties on our behalf. The original master recordings are owned by The Fluffy Jackets (Helge Rognstad). Visit our Music page for detailed information about songwriting credits or associated IPI, ISWC, ISRC codes. You can also obtain songwriting credits and associeated information by writing to us via this webpage.
What should I do if I want to record a Cover-version of a Fluffy Jackets song, written by Helge Rognstad?
First, the good news is that you do not need written approvals from us. All we ask is that you clearly mark the songwriter name on your credits if you release your song online (IE: you have to do this when you send your cover song off to your distributor / label / recording company, or when you or your band upload the cover to Distrokid, CD Baby, Tunecore or whatever Distribution Service Provider- DSP you are using). When you do this, make sure that you spell the songwriter's name correctly, as it will help our partners collect the royalties. Since Helge Rognstad is a published songwriter (lyricist, composer) - if you are planning to sell digital downloads or print up physical copies (CDs, DVDs or LPs etc) then you need to pay the mechanical copyright to the songwriter via your PRO or CMO organisation as TONO will have a reciprocural agreement via our mechanical collection society (NCB). You can find all song credits on our Music page (including songwriters, publishers, performers, contributors, UPC, ISRC, ISWC, IPI codes). We are also very grateful if you send us an email with a link to the song once released, as it is always nice to hear a new version of one of our songs.
Can I play The Fluffy Jackets on my Radio station?
Yes, you can play our music on the radio (as per standard procedure) and you do not have to ask our permission for that. Note that The Fluffy Jackets is an affiliate member of GRAMO who collects royalties for public broadcasts of our master recordings.
Can I use The Fluffy Jackets music in my YouTube video?
Yes, but when you post your video to YouTube, a Copyright Claim may be made on your video via our music distributor. In effect, this means that you can freely use one of our songs in your YouTube video, but you will not be able to monetize the video (money from the resulting adverts will be collected by our music distributor).
Can I use The Fluffy Jackets music in my commercial film or project?
Please contact the band on this website if your film or project is of a commercial or political nature, and we can agree terms.
What if I want to use a sample of an existing song by The Fluffy Jackets in my new song / or project?
In addition to following the songwriting procedure above, then we must also agree the %-wise split of the performance credits (IE agree the copyright split to the new song as well as the appropriate songwriting credit). For this to happen and be correctly registered, you need to contact The Fluffy Jackets via this website so that we can agree this between us. If you want to know more about song credits on our releases, remember to check out our Music page (contains songwriters, publishers, performers, contributors, UPC, ISRC, ISWC, IPI codes).
Where can I find the full "Something from Nothing" documentary film 2019?
Since the film inevitably would end up on YouTube anyway, we have now posted all the documentary episodes on this website, where you can see each episode. And yes: this is the same documentary that was released together with the album (CD+DVD) in 2019. If you want to support the band, you can purchase the Digi-Pack (CD+DVD release) on Amazon (distributed by Cargo Records, London).
Who owns The Fluffy Jackets album artworks (image rights)?
All album artworks are owned by Helge Rognstad: The artwork "Fighting Demons" (2014) was painted by Parichat Meknamee; the painting was ordered / commissioned by Helge Rognstad who retains all image rights. The artwork used on the "Something from Nothing" (2019) album is a digital artwork called "The Garbage Collector", created by the artist Anton Semenov; the image right was subsequently aquired by Helge Rognstad on the 8 March 2018 who owns the image rights.
Where do I find high resolution photos of The Fluffy Jackets, including logo and album covers?
Please visit the Press Room for high resolution artwork, photos, album covers, latest press and promotional video.
Can I use all photos that I find on this website free of charge?
Yes; all photos, album covers and images (including high-resolution versions on our Press Room) can be used FREE of charge if the following credit is provided: "Image courtesy of The Fluffy Jackets".
How do you obtain copyright (UK)?
There is no official method to copyright work in the UK. However, evidence of creation and ownership can be created in a few ways. The first is by mailing or saving a physical copy of the work in any way that will help to establish when it was created. For example, you could send it to yourself by a recorded delivery, or store it with your bank. The work must be time stamped and remain sealed for this to provide any legal proof. Electronic emailing or saving of the work, which will provide a time-stamped copy, is another way to evidence creation and ownership. Sending a copy of your work to yourself by a recorded delivery is stronger evidence of copyright ownership than an electronic time stamp, because it will have your name attached to it.
How long does the copyright last for?
Within the EEA (and the UK), music copyright lasts for a period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. If the music originates from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), the copyright lasts for as long as the music is protected by copyright in its country of origin, provided that this does not exceed 70 years.
Ref. TONO and GRAMO: Is it the same process in the UK?
Yes, pretty much: PRS for Music is made up of two societies Performing Right Society (PRS). The Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) have a service agreement in place with PRS for Music who provide rights management and administrative services to MCPS. PRS pay royalties to our members when their works are: broadcast on TV or radio, performed or played in public, whether live or through a recording, or streamed or downloaded. MCPS pay royalties to their members when their music is: copied as physical products, such as CDs and DVDs, streamed or downloaded, used in TV, film or radio. In some cases money is collected jointly and then split between PRS and MCPS. As a member of the Performing Right Society (PRS) or the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), you give permission for us to protect your rights and collect royalties on your behalf. As a member, you are responsible for registering each work. Registration is not the same as copyrighting your work. As a PRS member, you transfer your rights to perform or play your work in public. This includes live performance, radio and TV broadcasts, films and adverts, streaming, downloading, ringtones and hold music for phone systems. PRS can then monitor any kind of music use and collect any due royalties. MCPS acts on your behalf, administering the rights to: copy your work (pressing CDs and creating digital downloads) issue copies of the work for sale or promotion, rent or lend the work to the public.
Ref. TONO and GRAMO: Is it the same process in the USA and elsewhere?
Yes, pretty much: song writing royalties can be collected by a few different companies. ASCAP and BMI are the major U.S. PROs, each representing and collecting on behalf of hundreds of thousands of songwriters, composers, and music publishers. Similarly, Collective Management Organizations, or CMOs, are organizations that track and collect both performance and mechanical royalties on behalf of copyright owners globally. Mechanical royalties are earned when a song is physically (e.g. an LP) or digitally (e.g. a song stream) reproduced. Examples of CMOs across the world include SUISA, for Swiss songwriters, composers, and music publishers; TONO for Norwegian songwriters, PRS, for UK songwriters, composers, and music publishers; and GEMA, for German songwriters, composers, and music publishers. Registering with a PRO and/or CMO is the first step that songwriters need to take to collect their global publishing royalties. In the U.S., SoundExchange is responsible for collecting digital performance royalties, whereas outside of the U.S., many regional organizations handle neighboring rights administration. SoundExchange is a non-profit collective rights management organization that is designated by the U.S. Congress to collect and distribute digital performance royalties for sound recordings. In layman’s terms, SoundExchange collects revenues for the performers on sound recordings, rather than the songwriters. The performers can include the musicians (singer, guitar player, drummer, keyboard player, tambourine player, etc. etc.) and the producer. SoundExchange also distributes revenues to the owner of the master recordings. This could be a record label or if you own your own masters, it will be you.
What are the six most important things to think about when registering at a collecting agency PRO?
According to Songtrust.com, among the most important things to get in when registering are: (1) Including the IPI number and contact info for the songwriter and publisher. An IPI (Interested Party Information) is a nine-digit number assigned to songwriters and publishers by their collection society in order to identify them as rightsholders. Every writer and/or publisher in the world who is affiliated with a collection society is assigned one, and no single IPI number is the same. (Think of it as the musical equivalent of a social security or passport number.) Your IPI number — and those of your co-writers — is vital in identifying you as the owner of a song, regardless of where your music is played in the world. If you don’t provide your IPI, or if you provide an incorrect one, collection societies won’t be able to identify you as the copyright owner and pay out your royalties. (2) Avoid future disputes by including all your co-writers and/or their shares in the song registration. (3) Clearing samples with recording and publishing owners. (4) Updating your contact information and current publisher If something changes, such as your mailing address, phone number, or email address, it’s important that you update your collection society right away. The same goes for if you recently switched publishers. (5) Updating your song registration with new recordings or alternative titles Not providing alternative titles or new recording details — such as live versions and covers — makes it difficult for your collection society to match any incoming payments to the song you registered with them. For instance, if your song is named “Up 2 No Good Luv,” you should also submit “Up to No Good Love” as an alternative title. (6) Listing the song’s performers, ISRC, and other sound recording metadata. Not providing metadata related to the sound recording of your song, such as the song’s ISRC and a list of all the performers, can cause issues with tracking and collecting your royalties worldwide.