While most songwriters would consider their work to be a “labor of love,” those who write for a living (or want to) must deal with a painful reality:
It’s really hard to get someone to record YOUR song.
And as hard as that is, it’s even harder to actually get paid for all of that work.
If you’re reading this, you are likely in that small percentage who is taking this seriously enough to wonder how you could make an actual living from writing.
If that’s you, read on!
How Songwriters Traditionally Get Paid
According to the Nashville Songwriters association, there are three ways to get paid for songs you’ve written:
Mechanical Royalty – A songwriter receives a mechanical royalty from the sale of a song on an album or a legal digital download. This rate is set by a Copyright Royalty Board made up of 3 judges who meet every 5 years to set rates. The original mechanical royalty was established in 1909 and set at 2 cents. Today, the current rate is 9.1 cents (typically split with co-writers and publishers).
Performance Royalty – A songwriter receives a performance royalty when their song is performed on terrestrial broadcast radio, in a live performance venue, or via online streaming services. In the United States, performance royalties are paid out through Performing Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC) and are governed by consent decrees from WWII requiring the PROs to go to rate court to receive their rates from entities seeking to license the songs they represent.
Synch Fees – A songwriter receives a synch fee when his/her song is licensed for use to synchronize with video (i.e. television, movie, YouTube video). This royalty is freely negotiated in the marketplace and is typically split 50% to the writers and 50% to the artist and record label.
They also state the following: A songwriter may go years without receiving royalties.
This is for many reasons, not the least of which being that it is very difficult to enforce someone sending the appropriate royalties.
It is very important that you work with a reputable publisher, who will do everything possible to make sure all parties are being appropriately paid for their piece of the work.
What This Means For You
As you might have guessed, this has implications for you as a songwriter.
For one, you will need to be prolific. Jimmy Fortune’s hit “Elizabeth” was the first song he ever wrote! Could that happen for you? Absolutely! But it’s probably not a good idea to plan for that.
This means you will need to constantly be writing new songs, having demos made, and pitching them to artists in hopes that one gets picked up.
Secondly, in terms of actually getting paid, it means you will probably need to produce hit songs before you see anything meaningful in terms of royalties. Even hit songwriters have some “misses” in-between that are still great songs! Traditionally, even though the song is great, they will not be paid much for it.
Of course, if a well-known performer makes a big hit with your song, you are likely owed a generous payday from the above-mentioned sources.
However, even that is not a viable long-term strategy. Most popular songs are only popular for a little while.
A song with “evergreen” qualities (think “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey or “Mary, Did You Know?” by Mark Lowry) will obviously pay for many years—maybe even decades—but writing one of those is rare as well.
It’s actually quite strange, if you think about it! The 17th century writer Andrew Fletcher once said, “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”
It is hard to imagine a person alive more influential than the songwriter, and yet, it is very difficult to get paid or to get noticed.
Is There A Better Way to Get Paid for Songs You Write?
At BuyDemoTracks.com, both our founders and our marketing director are all songwriters! We have spent our lives in this industry and know all too well how influential—and difficult—songwriting can be.
Part of our goal in creating this company was to figure out how songwriters could get paid for the hard work they put in well before their song became a hit.
In fact, we wanted to see if we could help songwriters get paid even if their song didn’t become a hit at all!
Fortunately for songwriters, there’s another big problem in the music industry: It’s very, very difficult for artists to find new music to record.
Well, for starters, the known good songwriters often have particular artists in mind (usually A-listers), making it extremely tough for B and C-list artists to get access to them.
What’s more, since there are so many songwriters out there, A-list artists are frequently bombarded with folks who’ve written songs with them in mind, to the point of having piles of demo CDs lying around they have never listened to.
(Could you imagine coming home from a weekend of performing and trying to listen to literally hundreds of songs and wading through to find the best ones?)
It’s just not practical.
BuyDemoTracks.com was created to solve both of these problems. We give artists and performers a song library to filter through and find new music based on a variety of factors.
Here’s How We Help Songwriters Get Paid for Their Songs
As I clarified in this post, after writing a song, the next step is to get a demo created. This is so you have a professional presentation when you pitch to artists and managers.
But once you have that demo created, what do you do with it? Of course, you should pitch it to artists! But what about before that?
See, a demo is a professionally recorded piece of music that is made to give artists an idea of what the song could sound like for them.
This means you have, at your disposal, not only a professional demo that could be discovered by A, B, and C-list artists if they knew it was available, but you also have actual music tracks that artists could use in their own recordings or performances!
With our advanced platform, you get paid in two ways:
- When you list your song with us, we disclose publisher information and fulfill mechanical license requests to make sure you have the very best chance of getting paid through traditional routes.
- But we also make your demo tracks available for folks to purchase and download from the website, and give you a 50% royalty every time they are downloaded.
To make this practical, here’s an example:
Let’s say an artist is getting ready to record a new album, and they are using BuyDemoTracks.com to find new music to record.
They come across your song, and love it! But not only do they love the song, they also love the recording of the song, and would like to use the exact tracks that already exist in your custom demo.
In this case, two things will happen.
First, they will request mechanical license information from us, at which time we will promptly point them to your publisher and provide the artists with the info they need to legally use your song.
Then, they will run through a sales process tailored to your song, where they will have the option to purchase just the demo track itself, or they could add on:
- Music charts, if applicable, to give studio musicians and producers what they need to know about the song
- Multi-Track Stems, which allow the track to be customized for recordings or performances
- A Master Lease, which gives them the right to use your track(s) on an actual record (not needed if they are purchasing for performance purposes only)
- Exclusivity Rights, which gives them the option to remove your song from our library for three months so someone else cannot record it
Remember—the track itself plus each of these add-ons is being purchased by the performer, and you are receiving 50% of that purchase amount!
The Possibilities of Getting Paid for Your Songs
I hope you can see, this platform gives you a tremendous amount of possibility and opportunity for your songs to get noticed.
But more than that, it gives you a way to monetize your demos, which has never been possible before.
The more artists and writers use BuyDemoTracks.com, the more possibility there is for your music to get discovered and for you to finally get paid for all the hard work you put into writing music.