It’s Simple. Accurate Song Data = More Music Royalties

AIMP Symposium on Music Royalties, Metadata, and Accounting
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AIMP Symposium on Music Royalties, Metadata, and Accounting
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AIMP Symposium at Lawry’s in Los Angeles, February 16th, 2017 (photo: Digital Music News; Public Domain)

Attention artists, labels, publishers, and music management companies! Ever wonder why you’re not receiving the music royalies you deserve for your music?  Here are a few tips from the pros.

Last month, the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) hosted a luncheon featuring four experts from leading music administration companies.  The discussion, which happened in Los Angeles, was all about the best ways to increase your royalties.  And, ensure that all the right people are paid.

The panel included:

  • Frank Johnson, CEO of MediaNet Digital
  • Keith Bernstein, Founder of Crunch Digital
  • Bill Colitre, VP & General Counsel at Music Reports
  • Sam Kling, Head of Creative Operations at SESAC (HFA)

Moderating was Frank Handy, VP Licensing & Copyright at Songs Music Publishing (he’s also an AIMP board member).

All four panelists manage the complexities of royalty accounting, reporting requirements, label and publishing operations and copyright.  And they do this on a daily basis.  Therefore, they’re amongst the authorities on how to increase your royalties.

All were in agreement that every music rights owner should be completing these critical tasks:

1. Register with administrators, and obtain the necessary licenses.

Until you register, you’re typically not entitled to royalties. That goes for everything from non-interactive recording royalties (SoundExchange) to mechanical licenses on Spotify.  When you register, you’ve squarely placed a recipient account against a play, and that leads to royalties.

2. Utilize the administrative companies you register with.

These administration companies are here to help you.  So take advantage of this.  Many of them provide services to ease the complexity of claiming and matching songs.

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For example, Music Reports offers Songdex, a database that has 57,000 publishing administrators representing 150 catalogs.  Harry Fox offers Rumblefish, designed to complete a myriad of music licensing tasks for businesses.  Similarly, MediaNet has a tool that does this as well.

But that’s just the start. Typically, every company on the administrative and royalty side has extra tools you can use.  Explore these companies, and choose one.  It’s in your best interest!

3. Be efficient and proactive. Record all your song data.

The most effective way to utilize these companies is to provide them with as much information as possible. Panelists agreed that although it may be tedious, it’s worth the extra steps to do it right. This could be your nest egg thirty years from now.

Panelists emphasized that in order to accurately obtain all of your data, you must fully engage with people you work with. “You should make this an obsession,” one panelist relayed.

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As an artist, publisher, or producer, you must be responsible for your song data.  If you take the time to monitor your song data, record it and share it, as you are more likely to earn your royalties.  This will ensure that when music is distributed to music services and DSPs, they will be matched with correct ISRCs.

4. Monitor those ISRCs.

It’s a constant problem that when music is distributed to DSPs, the ISRC is often wrong.  MediaNet found this to be the case an astounding 20 percent of the time. “20 percent of the time the ISRC on a sound recording row is misleading or missing,” said Frank Johnson of MediaNet.

This obviously makes it difficult for administrators to match catalogs and songs correctly.

It’s simple: correct ISRCs lead to royalty payments. Once in hand, PROs can pay artists and rights owners the proper royalties for their songs.

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In addition, it’s wise to check in with aggregators who may alter the ISRC to identify the song record.  Plus, typos happen, better to catch this earlier than later.

And don’t forget, many songs have multiple ISRCs. Keep track of these, as it is easy for them to be lost and/or altered when sent to DSPs.

5. Communicate

Strong communication with the parties you work with is essential to gather your data.  Frank Johnson encouraged attendees to talk with your affiliated record labels.  Explain that it is harmful to hold back information.

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For example, record labels sometimes intentionally hold back the title of certain songs.  Not a good idea. They need to understand this simply makes it impossible to match titles to songs.

6. Do not hold back information.

It is a common misconception that sharing your information with administrators is harmful.  Actually, the more information you share, the better. “There is no value in not sharing your data,” Bernstein relayed.

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Your data is most valuable when it is well organized, missing little information, and you share it. Do not be afraid to share it. Just in case you are, some companies such as Crunch Digital have confidentiality agreements.  They want — and need — you to feel safe about sharing your information, period.

“Data is what connects you to your royalties.  If you’re not sharing with one of us, you will have a hard time getting paid,” Bernstein relayed.

In conclusion.

Simply stated, if you follow this advice, you’ll receive your royalty checks. Remember the tools offered from these administration companies are a fantastic way to keep and formulate your data, and assist with matching and claiming.

However, there is nothing more effective than you keeping tight tabs on your data, recording it, and sharing all of your information.  That’s the source, and good discipline goes a very, very long way.


The AIMP event page can be found here.  Thanks for the invite guys!


4 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    I get paid the regular per-play rates (roughly .004) from all the streaming companies (apple, spotify, tidal etc.), but I’ve yet to see a dime of mechanical royalties from any of them. It’s been over two years.

    I’m the sole writer and owner of my songs (100%). I use Tunecore’s publishing service and all my info is correct.

    Additionally I’m an ASCAP member and I get about 1/20th the amount from them as from the streaming services.

    • Herman

      Make sure your songs are registered with Harry Fox and Music Reports, and make sure those registrations include the ISRCs and performing artists names.

      • Anonymous

        If your publishing is administered by Tunecore, then HFA and Music Reports may be paying your mechanical publishing royalties to Tunecore, rather than to you directly. Does Tunecore break out royalties for mechanical publishing and sound recordings on their statements to you? Technically, they should be communicating your publishing catalog information to HFA and Music Reports, though it probably wouldn’t hurt to be proactive and send your catalogs to those companies directly.

  2. ben

    You need a copy editor. Lots of typos. Good info though.