How do my songs make money?

ONE BASIC RULE: the more people that hear your music, the more money it makes and the harder it becomes to track.

To help you better understand how your music makes money, here is a list of the different royalties and potential revenue sources for your songs.


Mechanical Royalties

This involves royalties collected when your music is streamed on an interactive streaming platform like spotify,Apple Music or YouTube.

Who regulates what we collect and how do we receive your mechanical royalty?

The mechanical royalty rate is a statutory rate set by the Copyright Royalty Board.

Why don’t streams pay the same for Spotify/iTunes?

i.e If you have two songs with similar numbers like 20,000 streams they may earn differently because if a royalty is generated via stream on Spotify, the rate will differ based on whether it came from a “Premium” or Ad based subscription; or on Apple Music, the interactive streaming rate will differ on whether it was done so from a student or family plan vs. an individual plan.

Here’s a list of where we collect royalties for you

  • Interactive streaming (when someone chooses to listen to your song e.g. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Tidal, Deezer etc.)
  • Digital Downloads (from iTunes, Amazon)
  • Physical product such as vinyl, CD’s and cassettes
  • Ringtones / ringbacks available from MTN
  • Cover versions of your songs (when someone else records your song)
  • Sample (when someone samples your song you take a piece of ownership in the new song)
  • Karaoke (when someone makes a new recording of your song for Karaoke purposes)

Performance Royalties

Performance royalties are generated every time your song is performed in public. The scope of public performance royalties is wide and varied. Three main areas to cover radio, television and live.

These royalties are collected by a performing rights organization (PRO) such as BMI or ASCAP.

One of our local (PRO) is MCSK,

Examples of performance royalty revenue sources are:

  • Interactive streaming (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Tidal, Deezer etc.)
  • Radio (AM/FM)
  • Internet radio (such as BBC, KEXP, KCRW)
  • Satellite radio/non-interactive streaming (such as Pandora, Sirius XM)
  • TV (broadcast royalties paid by the broadcaster of a television show, film of advertisement – not to be conflated with the synchronization fee which is a one off license fee paid for the synchronization of music to moving image)
  • Live concert venues
  • Samples (when someone samples your song you take a piece of ownership in the new song)

Print Royalties

  • Physical and digital sheet music
  • Lyric reprints physical such as liner notes
  • Lyric reprints digital such as on Spotify or on MusixMatch/Instagram
  • Guitar tablature

Sync Licensing

  • TV Shows
  • TV Commercials
  • Films
  • Film Trailers
  • TV Promos
  • Video Games
  • Mobile Applications
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