Rhymes to Riches
The Best Way to Make Money with Music
"I walked out of the Chinese restaurant with a fat check,
a record deal, and a box of shrimp egg foo yung! I was signed to
MGM. I was in Vegas for sixteen weeks at the Sands Hotel".
- Solomon Burke
The best way to make money in music is to be the writer. Yes the
songwriters are the ones collecting the royalties. If you are responsible
for writing a song that goes on to sell a million copies, the mechanical
royalties alone are $566,250, and then there's performance and residual
royalties from other markets.
The only way to make more than a songwriter is to combine that
with being the recording and performing artist who makes the song
popular. If this is the case, there are almost endless money making
opportunities and not just in music. In addition to musical performances
and CD sales artists now make money from product lines and endorsements,
music and ring tone downloads, personal appearances etc. etc. But
this section will focus on how the songwriter makes money.
"I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning,
so I was forced to be like a businessman because when I was trying
to get a record deal, it was so hard to get a record deal on my
own that it was either give up or create my own company". -
The Business of Music
You’ve heard a lot of fairy tales and myths about the music
industry but really it’s pretty straightforward. The music
business is like any other business, you make a product and sell
it and hopefully there is a large demand for your product. You as
a songwriter are entitled to a portion or percentage of each product
sold that you helped create.
"You get quick money, it's beautiful, there's sunshine,
but at the end of the day, you find out it's all a masquerade, baby.
It's not what it seems". - Wyclef Jean
The whole music industry is based on percentages of potential earnings.
You must retain the rights to your material. You will usually be
asked to "split" royalties with your publisher or the
record label, and this is normal. But never, under any circumstances
give up all your rights to your songs!
"Most artists have contracts directly with the record
company, and when they do music, all of their music is owned by
the record company. But I did mine through a production company".
- Roy Ayers
How songwriters make money
As a songwriter, your path to the money is fairly short. A songwriter
makes money when a CD containing their song gets sold. You will
also make money if your song is played on the radio, in a TV show,
broadcast in a foreign country, or performed in a motion picture
or as part of a theatrical production. Each source of revenue has
it’s own payment structure and organization, sometime making
it difficult to determine where the income is coming from. Let’s
take a look at the music business from the songwriter’s point
"A song that sounds simple is just not that easy to write.
One of the objectives of this record was to try and write melodies
that continue to resonate". - Sheryl Crow
Publishing and Royalties
Mechanical Royalties – sometimes known as reproduction rights.
A mechanical royalty is earned for any "phonorecord",
including CDs, tapes, vinyl, and digital downloads that is manufactured
and distributed with a copyrighted song on it. This also means the
right to copy your work, which refers to any mechanical reproduction.
"And you have a record company behind it, this is a key
too, you need people to fight for your records, at least a little
bit. So if you have a great song, it's catchy, and you've got a
little bit of help, I think that's all you need." - Joan Jett
Performing Royalties – also referred to as performing rights.
This is the right to perform the work in public. This performance
may be a live performance, a recording or any other type of performance.
This also includes the right to communicate by telecommunication
to the public. (Radio, TV and satellite and Internet retransmissions)
A copyright owner automatically owns the performing rights, along
with other rights that make up a copyright. A performance royalty
should be paid if your song is performed live in public or broadcast.
"I never take on anything that is just for the money or
just for, you know. I always have to connect with it in a very personal
way because I believe the audience will sense whether I'm into it
or not, so I don't take on projects that I'm not really passionate
about". - Deborah Cox
Synchronization Rights - A synchronization royalty is paid when
the song is synchronized with visual media, like television programs,
commercials, and films.
Other rights - The right to assign the work, moral rights to the
work and the right to modify the work, are a few of the other various
rights covered under copyright law.
by - Jeff Muller, author of Write Hit Songs and Get Paid
If you would like more information about getting your songs published
and how to retain your rights so you get the big slice of the money
pie, this book can help.
about Write Hit Songs
Find out how to get your FREE copyright explained