How to Self-Publish Your Music as an Independent Artist
There are several advantages to self-publishing your music. You don’t have to share your copyright with anybody, you aren’t forced into any publishing contracts, and you get complete control over where your work is used and how it’s presented. Keep in mind that self-publishing isn’t for everyone. You must be able to commit your time and effort to performing everything a typical publisher would accomplish, as well as more. But, if you’re ready to do it, here’s how to go about it.
Let’s start at the beginning…
When you self-publish your songs, you have to play the part of both the artist and the publisher. It’s possible to make money as a self-published writer by keeping all of the rights to your Intellectual Property (IP), which means you’ll be in total command of how your works are utilized and get all royalty payments associated with your portion of them. This is usually the most preferred method for artists who have little need or desire to be associated with a label. You’ll have complete control from beginning to end. A quick word of warning: it will take a lot of time and effort to self-publish music, so you’ll have to be dedicated to your work.
This is fantastic, but there’s a little more work to be done. If you’re still interested, here’s what you’ll need to do to
Step 1: Make Sure Your Song Hasn’t Been Published Yet
If you’ve worked with a distributor before, you could have unwittingly signed up for publishing services. For example, many of our customers like using our publishing administration services.Before you act, double-check to see whether this applies to you. If it does, you’ll need to contact the distributor in question and request that they delete your publishing information from their systems.
Step 2: Register with a professional.
To receive the royalties you are legally owed, your pieces must be correctly registered with a Performing Rights Organization like ASCAP, SESAC or BMI. The information you provide is critical to the ‘PRO’s’ ability to decide who they need to pay and how much.
If you are a songwriter and have not yet affiliated, make sure to only do so with only one of these, not all of them. It’s important to know that the royalties you earn are distributed by your designated PRO, not the artist who performs or recorded your songs. You can register with ASCAP even if nobody has performed your music.
Don’t worry; there is no cost for this service! Publishing is a critical step in making sure your music gets credited where it deserves to be.
Step 3: Sign Up with the MLC
The Mechanical Licensing Collective maintains the world’s most complete music copyright and ownership information. Mechanical royalties on digital music streaming services are collected by SoundExchange, and those royalties are disbursed according to the ownership claims.
By doing so, you ensure that you receive all of the royalties that are rightfully yours. To obtain digital audio mechanical royalties, you must connect to “Collect” and become a Member of the MLC. As a member, you can register your songs and have ownership information accessed 24-7.
Every song ever written is in the MLC’s database, so if you wrote even one song it would be wise to sign up with them. They offer a free service where they search for your works and let you know if any of them have been claimed by another entity. Unfortunately, many artists fail to sign up for this free service and lose out on royalty payments that could be theirs.
Step 4: Promote
Once you’ve completed those procedures, you can start earning your publisher’s cut of the pie on top of the writer’s share. Now it’s your turn to take charge of the duties of a publisher.
Your publisher will be out networking, looking for sync deals for TV and film, registering copyrights, negotiating licenses, and so on. You’re on your own when you self-publish.
Be sure to actively promote your music. The more people who know about it, the greater chance you have of making sales or receiving licensing requests.