The Bandzoogle Blog

10 years of advice, inspiration and resources for musicians navigating the new music industry.

13 Ways to Make Money from Your Songs

13 Ways to Make Money from Your Songs - Bandzoogle Blog

This is a guest post by TuneCore Music Publishing

If you write songs, and your songs are sold, downloaded, streamed or used in many other ways, they’re generating songwriter royalties for you. Awesome, right?

Nowadays, the types of songwriter royalties earned fall into two buckets: Physical/Analog Songwriter Royalties (generated from old school music industry), and Digital Songwriter Royalties (generated from the modern digital music industry). With all of the different ways your compositions can be used in both industry models, there’s a good chance your songs are generating money you’re not even aware of, which means you’re missing out on collecting your money, and that ain’t cool. So, to make sure that stops now, we’ve outlined 13 ways that your songs make you money.

But one note before we begin: each income stream and type of royalty explained below is generated from both the original recording of a song or “composition” (i.e. the Beatles’ version of “Yesterday”), and off of a cover of the song.

Physical/Analog Songwriter Royalties & Revenue

#1. Mechanical Royalties

If you’re serious about getting your music out there, you’re probably selling physical products like CDs, LPs or cassettes (someone must still listen to cassettes…right?).  Every time a unit is sold or manufactured, you earn a mechanical royalty, generated from the reproduction of your song.  Record companies or other entities manufacturing products with your song—like The Gap, W Hotel, Putumayo—pay this royalty.  If the reproduction is in the U.S., the royalty rate is $0.091 per reproduction for songs under five minutes.   A formula rate kicks in set by the U.S. Government for songs over five minutes.  Outside of the U.S., the royalty rate is typically 8%-10% of the list price.

#2. ’Analog’ Public Performance Royalties

Every time there’s a “Public Performance” of your composition, you make money.  Public Performances happen all the time—you play a set at the local pub, your song gets radio play, you hear your track as background music in a restaurant or hair salon—and each time, the songwriter earns money.  So who pays up? AM/FM radio, network TV, bars, restaurants, airplanes, offices, movie theaters…you get the point.  Both in the U.S. and outside the U.S., the royalty rate is determined by a one-to-one negotiation between the Performing Rights Organization (PRO) and the entity where the performance occurred.

#3. Synchronization License Royalties (from the “Distribution” Copyright)

If a film or TV studio, production company or someone else wants to use your composition in a TV show, movie or commercial (hooray!), they need to pay for the synchronization license.  The license fee (both in and outside of the U.S.) is a one-to-one negotiation usually based on several things like the length of the use, how it’s being used (background or up front), the format and the popularity of the production.  Because of all these factors, the fee can range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

#4. Mechanical Synchronization Royalties

Let’s stay on the topic of Sync for a moment, as there’s also a mechanical royalty generated from the “Reproduction” copyright.  All that publishing lingo means that there’s a per unit royalty payment owed to the songwriter based on the number of units manufactured that include the song (like a greeting card, toy, video game, etc.).  Depending on the type of unit manufactured, entities like Hallmark, toy companies, or video game companies generate and pay this royalty, and the value worldwide is usually based on initial manufactured units.

#5. Print Royalties

As the name suggests, this royalty, generated from the Public Display copyright, has to do with printed materials—lyrics, sheet music, tablature, etc.  When music publishers like Hal Leonard or Alfred Music Publishing create sheet music, or a company prints t-shirts with lyrics on them, they are required to pay a print royalty.  There’s no government rate for this royalty—it’s a one-to-one negotiation.  If we’re talking sheet music, the royalty is usually 15% of retail price, and/or a one-time fee for pressing is negotiated.

Digital Songwriter Royalties & Revenue

#6. Digital Download Mechanical Royalties

If you write a song and distribute it to download music services like iTunes, Amazon, or Google, you’re owed a royalty for every unit of your music that’s downloaded.  This royalty type comes from the “Reproduction” and “Distribution” copyrights, and the royalty payment mirrors physical reproductions: $0.091 per reproduction in the U.S., and generally 8% – 10% of the list price outside the U.S.

#7. Streaming Mechanical Royalties

Streaming is the name of the game these days, and if you distributed your music to digital stores, it’s likely that you chose a few interactive streaming services like Spotify, Rhapsody or Rdio.  In case you’re not familiar with the term, “interactive” means that the user can choose songs, stop, go backwards, create playlists, etc. As was the case with digital downloads, a songwriter is owed a royalty (from the “Reproduction” copyright) for every stream of his or her song on an interactive streaming service.  In the U.S. there’s a government-mandated rate of around $0.005 per stream (expected to grow!), and outside of the U.S. the royalty is typically 8% – 10% of the list price.

#8. Digital Non-Interactive “Streaming” Public Performance Royalties

We talked “interactive,” and now we’re talking “non-interactive.”  A non-interactive streaming service is one through which you can’t pick songs, create playlists, or otherwise “interact” with the music, kind of like AM/FM radio.  A non-interactive stream is a “Public Performance” and therefore generates a songwriter royalty, paid by the streaming service, like Pandora, Slacker, iHeartRadio, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, cable companies, and thousands of other entities.  Worldwide, the royalty rate is determined by a one-to-one negotiation between the PRO and the other entity (generally based on a % of the entity’s Gross Revenue).

#9. Interactive “Streaming” Public Performance Royalties

When someone streams your song on an interactive streaming service like YouTube, Spotify or Rdio, it also counts as a “Public Performance,” which means you’re owed additional songwriter royalties. There’s no set government rate in or outside the U.S.—it’s determined individually by the PRO and the other entity, once again usually based on a % of the entity’s gross revenue.  A few formulas and calculations from the PRO later, and you’ve got a royalty.

#10. Digital Synchronization License

Sync also applies to the digital world.  We all know it’s common for people to create YouTube (or Vimeo) videos that use someone else’s music in the background.  In slightly more technical terms, what’s happening here is that the song is being synchronized with a moving image, and when this happens, a per use license payment is required.

[Exciting news: TuneCore can now help artists make more money on YouTube, as our Music Publishing Administration service includes YouTube monetization. Plus, our new partnership with INDMUSIC helps you develop your channel, which results in even more money for you.]

As far as the royalty rate goes, there is no government rate, just a one-to-one negotiation that sets the per use royalty rate.  It’s typically a percentage of Net Revenue as generated by advertising dollars.

#11. Digital Print

Google any song and you’ll immediately find dozens of sites with the song lyrics, sheet music, or tablature available for your use.  The use of the music on these sites is yet another form of public display, and the lyric sites, musician sites, and even sites with avatars wearing virtual t-shirts with song lyrics (yup, those count) all generate and pay this songwriter royalty.  Once again there’s no government rate set worldwide, and the rate is typically a fee for a specific period of time, and/or a percentage of the site’s gross revenue from paid subscriptions or advertising.

#12. Mechanical Royalty for a Ringtone/Ringback Tone

Ever purchase a ringtone? Or distribute your own to the iTunes store on your phone?  Whenever a ringtone or ringback tone is purchased for a mobile device, a royalty is owed (it’s generated from the “Reproduction” and “Distribution” copyrights).  Music services and telecoms like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Cricket, Vodafone and more are required to pay mechanical royalties to the tune of $0.24 per ringtone (in the U.S.) and a percentage of gross revenue (outside the U.S.).

#13. Public Performance Royalty for a Ringtone/Ringback Tone

In addition to the royalty generated in the purchase of a ringtone/ringback tone, a songwriter royalty is owed from the public performance that occurs when someone plays the tone outside of the U.S. Once again, the telecoms and music service need to pay up, and the rate is determined by a one-to-one negotiation.

Exhausted from reading this but ready to get the money you’re owed from the use of your compositions? That’s the right attitude! When you get a publishing deal with a publishing administrator, the publishing administrator will license and collect for you worldwide all of the royalties that should be coming to you, the songwriter, and nobody else.  It’s a good idea to get in the know now, because as the music industry landscape keeps evolving, there’s no doubt you’ll soon have more royalties to collect.

Making money as a musician is tough. That's why you keep 100% of your hard-earned revenues when you sell music, merch & tickets through your Bandzoogle website. Sign up free now!

New ways to share your music: Facebook, Twitter & embeddable players

New Ways to Share your Music

We've just released new music players for you and your fans to share your music across the web, and on Facebook and Twitter. They are beautifully simple, and highlight your album art.

Here are the details:

Embeddable music player

This option lets you add a player on any website that allows HTML code. The players are responsive, and work great on mobile devices. Check it out:

Embeddable music player

Facebook & Twitter music players

You can also create music players that stream your music directly on Facebook and Twitter. Here's what they look like:

Facebook player

Music player for Facebook

Twitter player

Twitter music player

To create these new players, click the "Share" button beside any track in the music feature of your control panel. Or, fans can create their own by clicking the "share" icon in the track list on your website.

All of the new players have a big button that sends fans to your website where they can learn more about you, or buy your tracks directly (commission free!)


Build your own website in minutes and start selling your music commission-free with Bandzoogle. Sign up free now!

Music Website Template Design: Customizing Vesper

Music Website Template Design: Customizing Vesper

What's in a theme? Since releasing the sleek and responsive website template, Vesper, so many musicians have been using it to build great looking websites! This theme, besides being mobile-responsive, is also very flexible. So no matter what type of music you play, the stylish Vesper template can work for you!

It all starts with a great image

First off, let's talk about your image. I do mean the 'brand' that you want to portray, but also your main website image. These two things should be tied together. That way, when a music lover and potential fan lands on your website, they know right away what your music would sound like - just from what they see!

Having some high quality images in the header area of your website will set the tone for your website. Think about the impression you want to make. You could go for striking - dramatic black and white for an indie-rock artist, or a sepia tinged group shot for your folk band.

[8 Ways You Should be using Photos on your Band Website]

A stunning image placed in a website template can work in parallel with your music to create an overall effect. Let's look at some examples!

Beautifully muted blue website

The streamlined look of the Vesper theme lends itself nicely to an uncluttered website. A simple image in the header area will help solidify your brand. Try an image of yourself, your instrument, or some scenery that conveys your sound.

The blue version of Vesper works really well for a classical music website, setting a serene vibe. Look at how classical violinist Sornitza Baharova has done this, using an image that is interesting, and matches the calm feel of her music.

Classical music website template

Kicking it up a notch, this same color scheme works just as well for a beats website! If you want to make money selling beats on your website, this theme has a simple, clean look that will let you focus on content.

With a banner image that represents who you are as a producer, keep the content area simple. Add calls to action that will direct your visitors right to your Store page to buy your tracks.

Beats website template

[How to Build a Website to Sell Beats Online]

Basic black and white website

Another variation on this template is black and white. It's a bit more dramatic and works well for a variety of music genres, depending on how you dress it up.

You can add pops of color, like alt rock band London Above, whose main image tells you right away that they're probably a lot of fun. They're also great at keeping their fans up to date with new snippets of information with their blog and Twitter feed.

Alt rock website template

Fun and funky website

And now for a fun twist, there's a version of Vesper that uses a trendy color combination of navy and pink. It's perfect for a singer- songwriter, folk, Christian, or country artist!

Taylor Loren has used an array of images to create a website that makes you want to listen to her music. She's even got a matching pink shirt that ties in perfectly with the pink menu bar. To let her website visitors know exactly what she looks and sounds like live, she also includes an embedded music video.

Music website template

Mellow Yellow website

Not a band but still need a music website? This version of the website template is a good bet for anyone that wants a modern looking, clear layout.

The neutral background lends itself to any kind of main image. Check out media composer Eric Watkins' website with a gloriously haunting header image, a clean content area, and gorgeous music to match.

Composer website template

Go big or go home

One nice thing about Vesper is that it allows for a large image on the landing page, grabbing your visitor’s attention immediately. Then on the inner pages (every page but the Homepage), a shorter image is featured. You can either use an image that works on all pages, or change your image on every page.

Deafheaven does a great job with this. Their first page features a picture that tells a thousand words, plus an effective call to action to sign up for their email list right away. Then their inner page images are all different, making every page interesting to look at. They have also added some customization to the basic theme to change around the design elements.

[Why Email Newsletters are still a Vital Marketing Tool For Musicians]

Rock band website template

Make it about the Menu

Looking for a way to make your menu bar stand out a bit? Use a logo rather than text for your band name. Check out this funky, free-spirited logo that Hana Kin has added to her website. It ties in an unexpected color and adds a bit of playfulness to her website menu.

Website template with logo

Does your website have great images and font choices that show off your genre of music, in a visual way? We hope these examples inspire you to create a personalized version of Vesper!

Create a stylish website that’s easy to update in minutes. Try Bandzoogle free today!

[VIDEO] How to add a PledgeMusic campaign to your Bandzoogle website

In the small world of web companies that build tools for musicians, PledgeMusic is one of our favourite peers. We always recommend them for musicians and bands looking to engage their fans and create personalized experiences in funding their next project. In this video, we show how easy it is to add your PledgeMusic campaign to your Bandzoogle website.

In just a few clicks, you can pull all of your PledgeMusic offers to any page of your website. Your offers will appear with an image and pricing in a grid format. When a fan clicks on an offer, it will bring them to the offer on your PledgeMusic page. Check it out:

You can display your offers on your Homepage, on your Store page, on a dedicated “PledgeMusic Campaign” page, and even on a landing page. The PledgeMusic feature also styles automatically to match your website’s theme, and looks great on mobile devices!

Get a professional website with all the tools you need to raise funds and be a successful DIY musician. Easy to build, in just minutes. Try Bandzoogle free now!

How to make money from your music on YouTube

How to make money from your music on YouTube

This guest post was written by Jon Ostrow. Jon is the Director of Sales at Bandsintown, Founder of MicControl, lover of all things music, a raging Phish head, and a coffee addict.

YouTube is undoubtedly one of the most important tools for musicians to market and engage with fans online. But how does YouTube make you money?

Rather than simply allowing YouTube to run ads on your music videos and hoping for the best, you should focus on creating a sales funnel strategy.

Sales Funnel

YouTube Sales Funnel for Musicians

This funnel can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Discovery

  2. Monetization

  3. Retention

This will effectively create a full cycle. Focusing on all 3 components will help you optimize your YouTube channel for revenue opportunities, drive traffic to your channel, and ensure that your fans stick around to continue to make you money over the long-term.

So let’s take a look at several easy ways to set up each part of your YouTube sales funnel:


Before you focus on trying to make money from your channel, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration to ensure you’re able to drive as much traffic as possible:

Enable channel recommendations
This is a no-brainer. By turning this setting on here, you’re allowing YouTube to suggest your channel to new viewers.

Every video should be tagged
Just like on Twitter or Instagram, YouTube tags act as keywords that are then indexed and searchable by others. Include tags like the genre and location, and even find opportunities to take advantage of existing tag trends that will help your videos show up in a relevant search.

Word to the wise though, don’t go overboard here – generic tags such as ‘Music’ or ‘new song’ won’t do much if anything for your visibility, so keep your keywords dialed in and to the point.

Create effective video titles
Again, you want to make sure that your videos are easy to find as a relevant search result. Your title needs to be catchy and appealing, but also to the point. If you get too clever with your title, you may end up leaving out a relevant keyword that could be the key to your video being found.

Tip: If you publish cover videos, include the artist name and the word ‘cover’ in the title in addition to the song name and your own name. This will help it be found easier!

Including the link to your YouTube channel everywhere
Make it as easy as possible for people to get back to your YouTube channel by including the link in your bio section of all of your social networking accounts, in your email signature, and even on your download cards, CDs, etc.

For your website, be sure to embed videos directly onto a Videos page, then provide a link to your channel for fans to find you there.

[The Magic 8: Essential Menu Options for Your Band Website]


Now it’s time to consider ways to maximize the traffic you’re bringing to your YouTube channel so that each visitor does their part to contribute to your sales:

Allow ads to be displayed on your videos
This one seems obvious, but it’s important to note that you need to opt-in to video monetization on YouTube. To do so, YouTube offers an easy step by step walkthrough to make sure you’re all set up.

Create playlists to increase # of video views per visitor
So you’ve driven a fan, or a new visitor to your channel and they’ve watched one of your videos. Great! Now they can either leave your channel, or they can continue to watch more videos. Increasing the number of video views per visitor is key when it comes to generating any significant amount of money from advertising.

Use analytics to better understand your audience
YouTube recently released a new tool for musicians called YouTube for Artists. This allows you to see which videos are connecting with your fans, and which ones are not so that you can continue to tailor your content strategy to meet the needs of your fan base. Take advantage of this and don’t waste time creating videos that fall flat.


At this point, you’ve set up your page to increase traffic and optimized your channel to make as much money from those visits and views as possible.  But why only rely on search traffic? A key component in any effective sales funnel is retaining existing fans, as it will always be easier to keep (and make more money from) than it is to find new fans. Here are some things you can do to ensure you retain the fans that are now checking out your YouTube Channel:

Ask fans to subscribe to your Channel
At the end of every video you should have some sort of call to action asking fans to subscribe to your YouTube Channel. You can also include this call to action in the description of each video as well.  This will ensure that your fans receive an update every time you upload a new video!

Use Annotations
YouTube offers ‘annotations’ as an interactive button that can be superimposed over your video to allow you to do things like link to your website or iTunes.  Should you be focused on touring, you can now even include an annotation that allows fans to follow you on platforms such as Bandsintown or Songkick (full disclosure, I work for Bandsintown and we’ve received amazing feedback from our artist platform regarding the effectiveness of this new YouTube feature).

Think beyond the confines of YouTube
While YouTube offers you quite a few ways to retain fans and make money directly on the platform, there are 3rd party platforms that can be used to leverage your video content, and even simply your music on YouTube to get you paid:

  • Patreon – Through this platform, your fans will opt-in to pay a recurring subscription fee for each new piece of content you release. By exclusively releasing (or at least debuting) your YouTube videos on this platform, you can reward the fans most willing to spend money on you, and greatly increase the opportunity to make money from each video you create.

  • Audiam – Believe it or not, you are owed a royalty for every YouTube view your music generates. Audiam helps independent musicians like you get the royalties owed to you from YouTube. If you have your music distributed through aggregators like TuneCore and CDBaby, they also offer services to get paid on royalties from music streams on YouTube.   

We hope the ideas above will help you to set up a basic, but effective sales funnel for your YouTube channel!

Start building your fanbase! Bandzoogle websites have a built-in mailing list, social media integrations, and all the tools you need to step it up. Sign up free now!

5 Secrets to Make Your Voice Sound Better

5 Secrets to Make Your Voice Sound Better

Cari Cole is a Celebrity Vocal Coach, Artist Development Expert & Music Biz Mentor. Her client list includes Grammy winners, legendary rock stars, American Idol & The Voice winners & finalists, and thousands of independent artists worldwide. Cari's two-sided approach as an artist and industry insider brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity to the business of music. To find out about Cari's products and programs, and grab your free gift: The Vocal Road Warrior 3-part Series Keep Your Voice Healthy While You're Out Conquering Your Tour, visit her website/blog at

As one of the top vocal coaches in the country, I frequently hear: “What are your top vocal tips for singers?” Well, I could rattle off a long list, and yammer on for hours. (I’m a nerd’s nerd when it comes to vocals…)

And I have a long list of favorite tricks up my sleeve from more than 20 years of coaching singers… But I love a challenge – so I pretended that I had only 5 minutes to tell you my top ones and so I wracked my brain to come up with the Top 5.

I’ve posted this before – but here is my updated and improved list…

One of the things I am constantly teaching my private clients is that the voice is an instrument inside your body and you have to learn how to use it to get the most out of it. It’s very “physical” on the foundational level.

To have a strong voice and to have vocal consistency there are certain things you have to know and do. There are some really simple methods you can use, right now, to get a great sound out of your instrument.

And most singers even professionals, unless they’ve trained, don’t know this stuff. So I wanted to give them to you as if I was actually giving you a voice lesson, right here, right now.

So – stand in front of a mirror (because I’m going to ask you to watch your jaw and your head position to control movement as you sing).

Here they are:

Cari’s Top 5 Secrets to Make Your Voice Sound Better, Instantly

1. The “Instant Vocal Fix” 

This is a quick trick that makes you sound better instantly so I called it the “Instant Fix”. Say A-E-I-O-U (watch your jaw movement in the mirror). Did your jaw close on any of the vowels? Chances are your jaw closed on the E and the U – and most likely on others too, if not all of them. Take your first two fingers and pull your jaw down 2 inches (or even better – use a plastic bottle cap or a cork (wine) to prop your jaw open). And speak the vowels again. And repeat again (we’re trying to re-program muscle memory – so the more the better). Now sing the vowels on one pitch. A-E-I-O-U. Your goal is to keep your jaw open (long not wide) without closing for all of your vowels. Repeat until you can do it. Now sing a phrase of one of your songs – and make sure your jaw opens to the same position on all of your vowels. You have to practice this a bunch before it becomes natural – but the more you do, the sooner this new movement is programmed into your muscle memory. And  you might be one of those lucky ones who notice the improvement in the sound right away (it will sound louder and more resonant with less vocal strain). If you don’t – don’t sweat it – you will. It just takes a little practice. (You might have some unwanted tension in your neck, jaw and throat muscles – try loosening them up and try it again.) The next time you perform open your jaw more on your vowels — it’s a quick trick that makes you sound better instantly!

2. “Think down” for High Notes 

 The next time you sing an ascending vocal scale or you sing a high note,  try thinking of the way an elevator works. A heavy weight is attached to a  pulley and as the weight pulls down, the elevator actually goes up to the  higher floors. So, the highest floor is reached when the weight is the  heaviest. Similarly, you should think down for your high notes or think  of addingweight (resistance) to your highest notes.

3. More Power without Strain

Who doesn’t want more power without strain? This is a simple technique to apply and a bit easier than the one above. All you have to do is to keep your chin pointed slightly down and your pectorals slightly flexed (well sometimes it’s a lot flexed) when you go for more power. Most singers reach forward or lift their chin up to sing with more power. While it may temporarily work, it causes vocal problems.  Tipping your chin down not only works better and saves your voice – it actually SOUNDS better! Stand in front of the good ‘ol mirror. Sing an Ah scale up and down in one phrase (1-2-3-4-3-2-1). Press your chin slightly in (point your chin towards the floor) — usually only 1” or so. Don’t let your head bob up as you raise pitch. Keep it firmly in place. Go all the way up the scale of your voice keeping this position. Notice how the chin wants to move up as you raise pitch. Keep it planted. This will give you more power and control and eliminate strain. Practice it until it becomes natural!

4. How to Get Natural Vibrato In Your Voice

Here’s a quick tip to get your vibrato working. Stand in front of a mirror; press on
your chest with both hands, then raise your chest higher than normal. Take a breath in and then exhale, but don’t drop your chest. Sing one note and hold it as long as possible with your chest raised. Press on your chest halfway through the note (press kind of hard and raise your chest to meet the pressure). Relax the back of your neck and keep your jaw open as you’re singing “ahhh.” Imagine the air spinning around in your mouth while keeping your chin tucked down a bit and your chest raised. Keep in mind, overuse of vibrato is not a good thing in contemporary singing (pop, rock and R&B). At the same time, no vibrato is also not a good thing. So, try ending phrases with straight tone, then into a little bit of vibrato. The bottom line is to do what’s best for you.

5. HearFones® 

A good vocal tone is not established by singing loudly, it’s established at medium volume. Good tone happens when vocal folds are strong enough to have a good closure but not touch. Releasing too much air creates a “breathy” tone and releasing too little air creates a “nasal” tone. Unless you’re really going for breathy or nasal as a stylistic choice, somewhere right in between the two is the perfect balance. HearFones® allow you to really hear yourself and work on your tone at medium volumes.

Keep in mind that there are natural remedies to keep flus and colds in check.  Check out my keep-your-voice-healthy remedies here:

More about vocal health here:

Build your own professional website in minutes that looks great on all devices. Try Bandzoogle free now!

Build a stunning blog for your band website: new modern tiled view

Build a stunning blog for your band website: new modern tiled view

We've just added a new, modern "tiled" layout for your blog posts.  You've probably seen this style before on sites like Pinterest or Tumblr.  It displays your posts in columns, with a featured image on top.  Check it out on some Bandzoogle member sites:

Kasey Todd

The tiled view highlights the key image in your blog post, and makes posts visually "pop" when visitors land on your site.  You can set the featured image manually, otherwise, it will choose the first image in the content of your blog post.

Like all of our features, the tiled layout works great on tablets and phones.

You'll find the option for the tiled layout in the "blog settings" tab of your blog. Enjoy!

Not a member yet and want to build a great blog for your music ? Try Bandzoogle free now!

Music Licensing 101: What is a Performing Rights Organization?

PRO, licensing, synchronization, royalties - learning the language of music publishing can be daunting. But it’s important to take advantage of all of the revenue streams available to you as a musician and songwriter.

[18 Ways Musicians Can Make Money]

In the first installment of this series, we’ll talk about what a performing rights organization (PRO) is, what they do, and how they can collect royalties for your music.

What is a performing rights organization (PRO)?

A PRO is an agency that ensures songwriters and publishers are paid for the use of their music by collecting royalties on behalf of the rights owner.

PROs collect public performance royalties. When a song is played in public, like on any kind of radio (AM/FM, streaming, or satellite), in a venue, or TV shows and commercials, it is required that they pay for the use. The PRO collects those payments, and distributes them to the rights holders.

Who are the PROs?

The biggest names in PROs in the United States are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. For our Canadian friends, there is SOCAN. They collect public performance royalties from public performances as defined by the US Copyright Act and ensure that payment is issued appropriately.

How do PROs get paid?

Any outlet that plays music publicly must be licensed to do so. Restaurants, music venues (bars, amphitheaters, performance halls, etc.), sports arenas, stores and shopping malls, bowling alleys, golf courses, amusement parks, airports, hospitals, and any other public place that plays music must purchase a license from the PROs in order to play that music. That licensing fee is paid out by the PRO as a performance royalty to songwriters and rights holders (publishing companies).

What about non-public performances?

When songs are streamed digitally on a service like Pandora or SiriusXM, or on a cable music channel (like Music Choice), SoundExchange collects digital public performance royalties.

These are collected for works covered by the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recording Act of 1995 and Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Though services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Rdio have reached deals with many labels and publishers directly, bypassing SoundExchange when dealing with royalties.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I record a song that was written by someone else, but they do not perform on the recording, and this song is played at a baseball game, who receives royalties for this song?
In most cases, performers do not get paid public performance royalties unless they were involved in writing the song.

If I record a song that was written by someone else, but they do not perform on the recording, and this song is played on a Pandora station, who receives royalties for this song?
In most cases, songwriters do not get paid SoundExchange digital royalties unless they also perform on the recording. The songwriter in this case would, however, receive public performance royalties from their PRO (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC/SOCAN.)

What if I want to cover a song?
Cover songs require a special license, acquired through the Harry Fox Agency. This mechanical license will allow you to perform the cover song, and the rights holders will be paid out accordingly by HFA.

[How to Record and Release Cover Songs: An Interview with HFA]

Do I really need a traditional PRO and SoundExchange?
In order to collect all the royalties due to you, you’ll need to sign up with both a PRO (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC/SOCAN) to receive your public performance royalties, as well as SoundExchange, who will pay out the digital public performance royalties.

What about radio plays?
When your song is played on terrestrial radio, like AM/FM stations, royalties will be paid by your PRO. Services like Spotify or Pandora pay both public performance royalties, as well as digital performance royalties.

For more on rights and royalties, check out our blog post on Copyright Essentials: 5 Things Every Musician Should Know!

Making money as a musician is tough. That's why you keep 100% of your hard-earned revenues when you sell music, merch & tickets through your Bandzoogle website. Sign up free now!

[VIDEO] How to easily create an EPK with Bandzoogle

In this video tutorial we show how easy it is to create an EPK (electronic press kit) for your music with Bandzoogle. Using our simple point and click editor, this video shows step-by-step how to create an informative and visually stunning EPK on your website.

With Bandzoogle’s features you can create an EPK with:

  • Your bio

  • Music

  • Videos

  • Photos & hi-resolution images

  • List of press articles & interviews

  • Quotes & reviews

  • Downloadable Onesheet

  • And more!

Catch the attention of industry & media with a professional digital press kit integrated onto your own Bandzoogle website in minutes. Sign up free now!

How to get ISRC codes and report your music sales to SoundScan

How to get ISRC codes and report your music sales to Soundscan

So you've finally finished your new album. The long days and nights of writing and recording and getting it *just* right are finished!

Once you release it to the world, you'll want to add your music to your website to sell directly to your fans so you can keep 100% of your sales and collect valuable email addresses.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

To be sure that these sales are tracked and reported to the charts, you'll want to get ISRC codes for each song. While this may sound complicated, it's another quick tool to add to your DIY musician belt! Let's look at what an ISRC code is, and why they're important to have.

What is an ISRC code, and why do you need it?

ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code. It's a unique identifier for a sound recording, and is used to measure sales. These sales are reported to Nielsen SoundScan, which powers the Billboard charts.

In the music industry, proving that you can sell music will go a long way towards booking shows and garnering buzz for your band. Website sales will give you a chance to get on the charts, and in turn can generate interest in your music from the media, potential sponsors, or management and record labels.

What music tracks are eligible for reporting?

In addition to having a valid ISRC code, your track must sell for at least 0.39USD.

Who can apply for an ISRC code?

If you are the rights owner of the track, you can apply for the ISRC code.

How do I get ISRC codes for my songs?

There's a very good chance that you already have them! For example, if your music is being distributed digitally by an aggregator like TuneCore, you've already been given ISRC codes for your songs.

If you do not have your music distributed through an aggregator, but would like to submit your sales to SoundScan, you’ll need to purchase ISRC codes.

You can head over to to look for agencies in your area.

In the United States, check out to either obtain a Registrant Code (which allows you to assign ISRC codes) or, to look for an ISRC manager to assign codes for you. You could also look at using a service such as

In Canada, go to and apply directly.

Once you get an ISRC code for a track, it's permanent for the life of the track. Think of it like a digital fingerprint - so you only have to get it once.

How do I apply ISRC codes to my tracks on my website?

It's easy to add ISRC codes to your tracks through your Bandzoogle website! Here’s how:

  • Click any Music feature
  • Click Add track and upload a track
  • Add your track info and include the ISRC code
  • Save!

Add ISRC codes to your music

When do music sales through my website get reported to SoundScan?

This varies depending on who is reporting them. For your music sales through Bandzoogle, we report weekly on Tuesday. If you have set up a pre-order and make sales prior to your release date, we report all the sales once your album is released.

How do I report sales made at live shows?

If you also want to report sales of your music at live shows to SoundScan, services such as Indie Hit Maker or At Venu provide live venue sales reporting.

Now that you know more about ISRC codes, how to get them, and what they’re used for, have fun making music and selling it!

Sell your CDs and digital downloads on your Bandzoogle website, keep 100% of your sales and report them to SoundScan. Sign up free now!