UK Copyright law states
that as soon as you commit any of your original creative work to paper/digital media etc. It is considered to be your intellectual property and you have legally established your right of ownership – more info see UK COPYRIGHT
Many songwriters are concerned about the potential pitfalls of presenting their precious work to the world – what if it gets “stolen” hijacked, used and exploited by others – worse still what if THEY actually make money out of it ???
LESSON 1 – if it’s your first track, and you don’t have an established following / comnunity waiting hungrily to hear it, or the backing of a label / publisher / distributor – then the likelihood of you actually making any money out of it is negligible. HOWEVER, your rights of ownership are publicly demonstrated, you can now easily share and send links to labels / A&R People (they prefer it), and anyone who may wanna use the song for synch-ing (ads movies tv etc) – that way .. someone else will definitely make money out of it .. but SO WILL YOU .
LESSON 2 Any track registered through PRS/ASCAP etc .. or released on a recognised digital platform ie Apple/Spotify etc is also a great way to secure your rights – and if u choose to release for streaming only (eg spotify/deezer ) it gets the song out there into the public domain – and establishes the timeline (indicating that YOU are the original writer / composer / producer) – it’s also possible that once it’s released in this way – you may get notices of use for your track as a cover/sync/compilation release – which will earn you royalties if u are properly registered. Anyone who is likely to make money out of your song – ie a major artist .. will have a team behind them who know the business .. (e.g. Eminem /Dido – his people contacted her and told her (rather than asked- but presumably she didn’t care about the civilities) that they were going to use her track .. and look what happened to #her career ..
Another alternative is SoundCloud or Reverbnation .. depends on whether u wanna sell or jus get people to #like it .. tho in fact they are far more likely to add it to a streaming playlist than go pay for it – or click the #like option .
THEFT – If, HOWEVER, the #unthinkable happens and you find out someone is using your track without telling you – and it’s a #HIT – you still have legal rights to sue the pants (or other garment) off them to recoup your royalties etc (for this you will need a good music lawyer and be able to unequivocally establish that you wrote/produced it first) – see LESSON 2 (you can also register your songs for US Copyright Protection with the US Library of Congress online US Copyright )
LASTLY – SOME TRUTHS TO CONSIDER
- ITS THE MUSIC “BUSINESS” You’re in it to make a living .
- DON’T BE PRECIOUS ABOUT YOUR MUSIC – (ie – it’s yours and no-one else can touch it /perform it / exploit it) or you could miss out on an AWESOME opportunity.
- IF YOU’RE UNSURE – CONSULT A GOOD MUSIC LAWYER – or at the very least just sign up for any deal on a one-track basis (for a specific / limited period)
- IF YOU’RE WORRIED BECAUSE THIS IS YOUR “BEST” SONG – Consider this .. a) is it the best song you’re EVER gonna write? – if so – you need to either self-develop / collaborate / learn to evolve and craft ( ) or stop now .. your career is already done. b) you’re waiting until you have a better opportunity / better following /better time / better anything / including a shower of fairydust – DON’T WAIT .. if you don’t start to get your work / name / talent known .. how will anyone ever hear about you ?
- SONGWRITERS are an ever evolving breed – there is a world of opportunity out there – but you need to work with it – you may make mistakes – get rejections – setbacks – disappointments – or (but hopefully not) get just plain hoodwinked – but if you join one of the many songwriting forums – take good legal advice – and /or just self-release through a reputable digital aggregator – you should be covered against most of your fears and concerns.
GOOD LUCK & GOOD WRITING
ALSO – CHECK THIS OUT – A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE AND OPPORTUNITY AWAITS – IT’S UP TO YOU TO #MAKEITHAPPEN
NOTE: this article is not exhaustive, was not written by a music lawyer and is only representative of the actions and personal experiences of members of the Songwriting community at large. If you are in any doubt about how to proceed – CONSULT A qualified legal professional.