What Artists Should Know About Songtrust
Did you know that each time your song is streamed, it generates a mechanical royalty that is not paid through your distributor? You need a publishing administrator like Songtrust to collect it.
For a $100 setup fee and 15% commission, Songtrust will help you sign up with a PRO (ASCAP, BMI, SOCAN, IMRO, etc) if you’re not already. Next, they’ll register an unlimited number of songs with over 45 collection societies worldwide. If you’ve already got songs registered with your PRO, they’ll pull them into their system for free.
Publishing is complicated. Okay, it’s a total mess. My goal for this article is to share my experience with Songtrust, and help you decide if it’s for you, without getting into the weeds.
Why I signed up
Many years ago, I saw a post on the Songtrust blog, breaking down the various royalties Spotify pays to songwriters. I figured that since I’d earned a few hundred bucks from Spotify via CD Baby, the mechanical royalties Songtrust would collect for me would cover the cost of signing up.
Also, I paid big bucks for radio promotion across France and Italy way back in 2000, putting my songs in regular rotation on over 40 commercial stations. The promoter guessed I’d get back about $1500 in royalties from the airplay, but I never got a penny, despite hounding ASCAP for months. I hoped maybe Songtrust would dig some of that up.
So, in early 2012, I contacted Songtrust and said I’d like to write an article about their service. I was granted a 25% discount off their top tier plan at the time, which was $250 per year for global collection, with no commission. The next year they changed their pricing structure to the current $100 plus 15% commission.
What Songtrust collected
As of February 2022, Songtrust has collected a total of $1592 on my behalf.
$485 of the $1592 total are US performance royalties that I would’ve collected through ASCAP anyway. In fact, since Songtrust takes a 15% commission, that $485 would’ve been $570 directly through ASCAP.
Fortunately, Songtrust more than made up for it by collecting an additional $1107 for me that I wouldn’t have otherwise received:
- $236 in international performance royalties
- $643 in US mechanical royalties
- $218 in international mechanical royalties
- $10 in “other” + print + sync
What about those missing radio royalties from 2000?
I’m out of luck.
It turns out that retroactive performance royalties are hard to uncover. Most societies require them to be claimed within 2-3 years. After that, they are redistributed to their members or blackboxed to cover operational costs.
Is Songtrust right for you?
Obviously it was the right call for me. Even if the numbers didn’t work out in my favor, I’d still be glad I went with Songtrust. Otherwise I’d be wondering if there was a pot of gold waiting for me at the end of the rainbow.
If you’re releasing and actively promoting your music, you need to be registered with a PRO and with SoundExchange. Those two agencies will most likely collect the vast majority of royalties for you.
Should you also join Songtrust? That depends.
If you’re regularly receiving royalties from your PRO as a writer, and don’t want to set up a vanity publishing company, then you should absolutely join Songtrust.
Otherwise you’re potentially leaving 50% of your royalties on the table.
For me, setting up a publishing company was super easy. I just filed a Fictitious Business Name statement. I didn’t even have to set up a checking account to receive checks under the business name, since ASCAP does direct deposit.
If you’ve racked up 150K streams of your music (across all platforms), you should probably join Songtrust.
According to Songtrust, that’s approximately the point at which they collect enough on your behalf to cover the setup fee and commission. In other words, you’ve got nothing to lose!
If you’re already receiving both writer and publisher royalties from your PRO, and have less than 150K streams, the decision is more difficult.
If 10% of your streaming earnings is more than 15% of your publishing royalties, you’ll probably come out ahead with Songtrust. For most of us, that’s difficult if not impossible to forecast.
Beyond the financial uncertainty, there’s also the psychological uncertainty. Are you okay with not knowing how much you could’ve received?
CD Baby members are no doubt already familiar with CD Baby Pro, which is powered by Songtrust.
With CD Baby Pro, royalty collection is bundled with digital distribution. You pay $20 more per single and $40 more per album. They take the same 15% commission.
If you only have a release or two, and have no plans to ever switch distributors, CD Baby Pro might be a better option for you. Personally, I’d rather pay once and be done with it.
TuneCore charges a one-time $75 fee and 15% commission for publishing administration. They’ll even pitch your songs for film, television, and video game opportunities (minus 20% commission).
There’s a catch though: TuneCore requires that you work with them exclusively for licensing.
And don’t forget, you’re paying $10 per single and $50 per album every year just to keep them in distribution! Who knows if they’ll continue to pitch and collect royalties for songs they no longer distribute.
Have you tried Songtrust, CD Baby Pro, or TuneCore publishing?
If not, what are you waiting for? Are there any other options I overlooked? Please share your experience in the comments!
Brilliant but as I am in Australia I have no idea whether this is a good idea for me or not.
I’m told that you can sign up if you’re already affiliated with the PRO in your home area, which in your case is APRA. It will have to be done manually, so you’ll need to email [email protected].
As to whether or not it’s a good idea, I suppose the same guidelines apply.
Hey Brian & anyone….
Is there such a thing as:
I just want someone to promote my song for a commercial, (song already registered with my Pro BMI), get their 15-20% fee off the front-end negotiation/contract, and leave my back-end Pro money alone… except to register for international tracking for a fee
In other words, be a salesman/admin, but not a publisher. Does that exist?
Sounds like a sync agent?
I was thinking of signing up with either Songtrust or Tunecore’s pub admin when I saw your post. I saw the discount, and that made taking this decision much easier 🙂 Thanks for that! I will report back on it, hopefully soon
Fantastic! Yes, definitely let us know how you like it!
does someone has to pay on each single or Album in any time needed to distribute?
Nope! You pay once and you’re good to go, for life as far as I can tell!
thanks Brian! I used the discount code 🙂 … I was already planning to sign up so this worked great for me.
Even better! Let us know how it goes!
Hello Brian..how do i apply for songtrust..how much its the fee…it is for a year?, ppl can downliad the music like in i- tunes so you get paid…how it works?..i’d apreciate Brian if you could also reply back on a direct msg on hotmail please. Thanks.
Sounds like someone didn’t read the article.
article? which article? 🙂
Hey I just ran across this article while reviewing Songtrust, liked what I read, (very informative) and crossed my fingers that the code was still active. It WAS! I am now signed up with Songtrust. The sign up process was very easy and I will report back with some stats/ info. Thank you for the info, and I signed up here as well. #peace
Good to know Kayda! I would’ve thought the code would’ve dried up by now.
I look forward to your impressions!
Just wanted to say thanks for the Songtrust code (remember to use the capitals). Was looking at a way of avoiding using CD Baby Pro and your site came up. Now for the next decision – Distrokid vs CD Baby (standard)…
One of my clients had a bad experience with Distrokid, but that’s purely anecdotal. All my releases are with CD Baby.
Don’t you find their customer service is awful though? These guys never get back to me. I actually found your article because I was researching starting my own publishing company… (yes I’m one of THOSE)
I confess that since the pandemic, I haven’t reliably gotten replies from the support widget on the site. When I email [email protected] though, Yoichi always gets back to me quickly.
You may have grander aspirations, but I “started” my own publishing company too. It was as simple as filing the Fictitious Business Name and registering as a publisher with ASCAP. Nothing to it!
Here’s my full review of DistroKid vs CD Baby (vs Tunecore, Mondotunes, Ditto, Symphonic, ReverbNation). Hope it helps! https://aristake.com/?post=92
Hi buddy… Due to the earthquake in Ecuador (2016-04-16), some famous ecuadorian singers are gonna publish a real good song to earn money to help victims. Ecuador’s government will help on marketing and we all expect to get 20 – 25 million downloads in a month from around the world, but all royalties will go directly to help people. Do you think Songtrust is a good option to help us?
Great info. Appreciate the thoughtful analysis. Thinking I probably won’t register with Songtrust since I’m already on ASCAP as both a writer and publisher.
I work at Songtrust.
Songtrust is an additive service to being registered with ASCAP. We register your songs globally and collect on your behalf.
Feel free to reach out at [email protected]. 🙂
Can I join Songtrust if I am affiliated with PPL or Sound Exchange?
I’m ASCAP Author, Artist, Producer, Publisher of WALKIN THRU THE PARK C Aristedes Philip DuVal, MR. MELODY TM. I am switching from what i feel is a BOGUS Distributor (DITTO MUSIC) to a better choice. There are yet more details to evaluate, no? Thank you.
I always recommend CD Baby. You only pay once and your release is up forever.
that’s a little misleading. you pay once if your release does nothing for you, but cdbaby takes 9% of everything you earn. If you have any kind of substantial streams, it quickly becomes more cost-effective to use tunecore.
Quickly? Have you done the math? What about on year five, when you have to decide whether to pay your annual TuneCore fees or pull the release?
Thank you for your article. I’ve been reading like crazy about this to make up mind what I should do. What I don’t understand about your article is that you mention Tunecore has a catch: you have to work with them exclusively for licensing. However it seems the same counts for Songtrust, why isn’t this mentioned:
This means I cannot work with another song plugging company (who may be really passionate about me) to pitch my music to TV shows, movies and commercials. This, for me, is a deal breaker because I expect Songtrust to be passive, having so many other songwriters. So why would I go for Songtrust if it’s also exclusive? On top of that Songtrust has a higher setup fee of 100$ (25$ higher than tunecore), a 15% cut (tunecore 10% & 20% for active) and while it seems with Songtrust you can only submit a maximum of 15 songs for the setup fee. You have to pay 10$ for each 10 following tracks, so it’s actually not a one time fee as with Tunecore. I live outside the US so CDBaby is appearantly not an publishing option for me.
Oh and about CDBaby: if you sell less than 100$ a year, CDBaby is a good deal, ’cause you pay 9% instead of a yearly 10$ fee, but if your track does well and you make say 1000$, CDBaby takes 90$ instead of the 10$. If you do really well, this construction could set you back plenty of dollars.. So if you believe your music will sell, I’d go the first year to Tunecore, keep it there as long as it sells well, and move it to CDBaby when sales start dropping below about 100$ a year. I’d also like to know if CDBaby allows you to charge 1,29$ per iTunes download as with Tunecore. This can make a big difference in some cases.
The key is, with Songtrust you’re entering into an exclusive publishing ADMINISTRATION deal. You can work with other plugging companies. I work with Marmoset and they’ve generated a couple great placements for me. No conflict whatsoever.
As far as I know, CD Baby doesn’t allow you to set iTunes pricing at $1.29. I see my tracks are all $0.99.
To be clear, the $10 fee with TuneCore is for a single track, right? Personally, I don’t want to have to decide when to pull a release based on slowing sales. You also haven’t factored in the up-front cost of switching, or the headache!
Hey Brian, thank you for the article. In addition to Eric, in the terms;
its said “You retain the exclusive right to negotiate and grant sync licenses on whatever terms you establish for the use of your Compositions via “traditional” means, as that term is understood in the U.S. music publishing industry, such as one-off licenses for use in films, television productions, commercials, and video games. Any such licenses will be between you and your licensees. You also retain the right to collect the sync license fees from those licenses.”
Could you explain me this? They haven’t changed this Terms since 2014, I guess.
I’m not a lawyer (I think you’re supposed to say that, right?), but it sounds to me like it’s just another way of saying you’re free to pitch your stuff for sync placements with whoever you want — Songtrust only handles administration.
Thank you for your time and effort.
What about Songcast?
Looks like just another aggregator to me. They don’t do what Songtrust does.
Hi. I am an artiste in Nigeria about to release my song. What publishing outfit would you recommend i use being that i am neither american, canadian or from the UK and how do i go about it.
Your reply will be highly appreciated
It sounds like you haven’t released a lot of material. If I were you, I’d wait until you’re more established to bother with publishing administration.
Hi Brian, I’ve been a full time composer / producer for TV & Radio and a BMI member for over 20 years. Recently I’ve been co-writing songs with other people and have been trying to find an Aggregator (like CD Baby) that can get songs on iTunes, Spotify,etc., while still accommodating revenue splitting for Co-Writers. To my knowledge, CD Baby and other Aggregators only allow for “1” account holder on a song & only provides that one Account Holder with revenue payments and sales data. CD Baby Pro looks promising but…given that a copyright lasts the life of the composer, plus 70 years, it seems antiquated for an Account Holder to have to provide co-writers with writer splits and sales updates for a lifetime. I believe DistroKid allows for writer splits but they do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. Are there any new solutions to help resolve this co-writing issue out there?
I’m sorry Ron, but I have no idea! I’m in the same boat actually, releasing material with another producer. He’s just trusting me to collect the royalties and handle the splits myself. It sure would be easier if it could be handled by the aggregator. Please let me know if you find a solution!
One rpm does this for you.
You may know this by now, but DistroKid can do this for you. 🙂
I’m skeptical of DistroKid. A client of mine had a terrible experience, and when I read stuff like “in stores 10-20x faster than any other distributor, at a fraction of the price” it’s hard to take them seriously. It’s not like CD Baby takes a week to distribute my material. I haven’t tested it with this tight a deadline, but it seems like it can be up next day. And depending on how frequently you release music, CD Baby can be cheaper in the long run. More importantly, I don’t trust DistroKid to be around in five years.
Just looked into DistroKid a little more. You can’t even specify a release date on their $20/year plan! Total deal breaker.
Hi Brian, great info on Songtrust – just what I needed to know and when I needed to know it. I just wanted to share my positive experience with DistroKid. It has been SO easy to use and I really like the ‘pay once’ model – even though it’s a bit more up-front. At this stage I haven’t made money back on any of my releases – I don’t sell a lot of music yet – but I know my music is distributed and as songs are streamed and downloaded and things will only get better in that regard. No big payouts if a song breaks out. While you are right about the release day on their $20 plan, you can specify it for just a little more – $35 I believe. None of these numbers are very big for me, and cover the peace of mind and simplicity I’ve had with DistroKid.
I’d be curious to know what your client’s negative experience was, because I’ve had nothing but smooth sailing with them.
Bro you don’t know enough about distrokid to even be mentioning it. If your on the 20 $ plan then your not serious about your music. I’ve used distrokid for a year now and I get my royalties. It’s better than any other streaming distributor.
I’ve on the $40 plan and have been with DistroKid for years. Keep in mind that you’re referencing comments from 2015.
That said, I’ve got more music with TuneCore. I’ve also used LANDR, CD Baby, and I’ve got a couple of releases with Anti-Joy. I’m not going to bother writing a “best distributor” shootout but I’m pretty familiar with the landscape.
You should probably check out Stem.is.
I’ve used it for 8 months with projects requiring several collaborators needing both sound recording and composition splits. It’s been awesome. They take 5% AND have partnered with Loudr so that you’re able to release covers.
I hope this helps
Thanks for the recommendation Nicole! Looks like a good service.
Just to clarify, it doesn’t look like they collect any more than other distribution services like DistroKid. So if you want your overseas mechanicals, you still need something like Songtrust.
Correct me if I’m wrong! This is tricky stuff.
You’re absolutely right. Although I use Stem for distribution and song splits, I typically still register the song with Songtrust.
I have had more optimal customer service experience with Songtrust, more so than Tunecore Publishing. I signed up with Tunecore in 2014, but started to transition to Songtrust by 2016. I’ve ended my contract with Tunecore and am in the procedss of transferring an a catalog of 80+ songs administered by Tunecore to Songtrust.
I must say, it is a very lengthy process so it’s important that songwriters/publishers read all the terms of their publishing administration agreement, in case they want to make the big switch.
I do really appreciate this dialog Brian 🙂
I do too! I’ve been wondering how TuneCore Publishing compares to Songtrust, and the fact that you’re going through the hassle of moving your catalog over says a lot.
Sorry I can’t reply to your comment directly. We reached the limit on threading replies!
Thanks for sharing your experience with DistroKid. I suppose if you’re releasing an album every year, even $35 isn’t bad.
I can’t remember the full extent of my client’s experience, but I do remember that he couldn’t get ahold of anyone for a week or so, and he was stressing because his release date was coming up. But he wrote a 3000 word essay on it.
Hopefully they’ve upped their support game since!
I’ve been reading all of these comments, and responses. Here’s my input…..I already have a few singles (3 to be exact) that I released over the last 2 months (I’m new to the game), and I released them through CD Baby AND TuneCore. I have them registered with BMI, and I also signed up with SoundExchange. I would like to believe that I’m well covered as far as royalty collections. Maybe what I did was overkill, but we’ll see. It’s still way too early to say “hey where’s my royalties”. I’ll give it some time. But the avenue I’m looking to, eventually, go down is music libraries. I would think that someone that’s planning on submitting numerous tracks to music libraries would want to go with Distrokid, because if you’re banging out 1-2 tracks a week, that would really get costly with CD Baby and/or TuneCore. Am I correct?
Why release through both CD Baby and TuneCore? Their coverage overlaps. I didn’t think that was even possible! Unless you mean TuneCore is handling digital distribution, and you also put it on the CD Baby store.
Submitting tracks to music library doesn’t require an aggregator. You do that directly with the library, for free.
As a newbie, I didn’t know better when I signed up with CD Baby AND TuneCore. I’m learning as I go. But thanks for the advice about submitting tracks directly with the library.
So if I submit music directly to a music library, would I still have to register that music with a P.R.O. or Sound Exchange? How will I know I’m collecting the royalties that I deserve?
This is a complicated subject, as you’ve seen! Yes, you still need to register with a PRO and SoundExchange. Songtrust will handle the PRO stuff for you if you choose, but I handle SoundExchange directly.
You put me onto Audiokite and said if folks listened to a demo for 2.40, that was quite encourageing! Anyway, I think I have recorded loads of far more engaging music, all sat on a hard drive, and I am going to have a shot at getting work as a staff writer.
The plan is to go to a record company and try get a deal to write exclusively for them. I will pitch them some of my unreleased demos, which are instrumentals. There would undoubtedly be co-writers involved in any finished article.
Do you think the demos should be registered with songtrust beforehand, or does that put them in the public domain and therefore messes up any idea of exclusivity?
ie the chicken or the egg, register demos with songtrust before applying to a record company, or wait till they say they want to work with me and then register my whole “catalogue” and for each track they want, change the info at songtrust to reflect new co-writers and where royalties go?
(I acknowledge you aren’t a lawyer btw!!)
Staff writer, huh? Sounds exciting!
I wouldn’t bother registering your songs with Songtrust until they’re released. Until then, they won’t be out there earning royalties, and it doesn’t protect you from someone stealing your song like registering with the US Copyright office (which I personally wouldn’t bother with either).
Do labels even have staff writers? I highly recommend reading The Song Machine if you haven’t already: https://amzn.to/2flvGBI
looks like a good book. I will let you know how it goes, maybe “staff writer” isn’t the right term!!!
Great article. I am Non-US and i am wondering (1)if I can register with BMI Publishing then with Songtrust for Publishing also. or (2) if I can register with Tune core Publishing and Songtrust simultaneously.
Yes and no respectively! Songtrust and Tunecore Publishing are both publishing admins, so you can’t have both. But BMI is a PRO, so that’s different.
Also, how does a Jamaican sign up for Songtrust?
On the internet, I suppose! 🙂
Am I correct in understanding that TuneCore and CDBabyPro both digitally distribute your music (ie: putting it on iTunes, Spotify, etc) as well as collect international royalties, while Songtrust only collects the international royalties but leaves distributing the music up to the artist? I have my first single that I’m trying to release in the most efficient yet thorough way, which is why I ask this. Was planning on using Songtrust (and in the process join ASCAP so as to avoid creating a vanity publishing company), but just realized that this might not distribute as well. First, am I correct that Songtrust is the only publishing administrator not to also aid in digital distribution? Secondly, if that is the case and I am left with either TuneCore or CDBabyPro, which would you recommend for somebody who will likely not release more than a couple singles and 1 album in the foreseeable future? Lastly, is there any other way aside from using Songtrust that would allow me to sign up with a PRO without having to make a vanity publishing company?
CD Baby and TuneCore are aggregators. Songtrust and TuneCore Publishing are publishing administrators. CD Baby Pro partners with Songtrust. So essentially, CD Baby + Songtrust = TuneCore + TuneCore Publishing.
If this is your first album, I wouldn’t bother with publishing admin until you have significant overseas activity. You can hold off even setting up a publishing company until you’ve got royalties to collect, like a big sync placement.
I always recommend CD Baby over TuneCore because you pay once and your album stays up forever.
Hey there! Can you tell me if CD Baby PRO takes a % after Songtrust takes theirs? If so, it’s much better to sign directly with Songtrust…
I’m just wondering as I want to distribute my music via CD Baby and sign with their publishing service, but I’m not sure if they take an additional cut after Songtrust take theirs. Please clear my mind on that…
That’s a great question. I’m not sure!
In any case, I think you’re better off registering direct with Songtrust once rather than paying extra for every release through CD Baby.
Hello Brian good Article.
i live outside of the us. I have a media group. We are something like vevo. I want to have a contract with the artists that offers a complete pipeline (distribution, royalties and even revenues from their music and music videos) which would make them interested about joining me. Songtrust and Adrev are in my mind as there’s no law in my country that protects you against copyrights infringement. they would be kind of like my internet police preventing other youtube/soundcloud etc. channels to just copy an release my artists work. like keep our content exclusive and gerenate traffic, offering Royalties deal to my artists. (vevo model in mind)
That’s certainly beyond the scope of my experience, but there are plenty of services using ContentID that could help police YouTube content. As for SoundCloud, I have no idea. That’s quite an undertaking you’ve got going there!
contentID, the best ones being?
I’m not sure there’s any difference in functionality. You mentioned Songtrust and AdRev. Seems like a half dozen services I use offer it, like Repost Network, CD Baby, etc.
I’ve tried to understand, but still not sure. I’m trying to decide between the norwegian based indigoboom.no and Distrokid. I’m a member of the norwegian PRO Tono (www.tono.no). Do I need to register with an admin publisher to collect my mechanical fees or is that my PRO’s job?
I’m thinking registering with Distrokid or Indigoboom and waiting with registering with an admin publisher. Is that a good idea?
I tried out DistroKid recently, thinking $20 per year was a great value. Turns out it’s $36 per year if you want to be able to schedule your release dates — and who wouldn’t? And then once I paid, I found out they charge $2 per MONTH to administer cover songs. I asked for a refund.
Of course, that’s only looking at digital distribution. I’m not sure exactly what you’re hoping to get out of DistroKid or Indigoboom (which I’ve never heard of).
My understanding is that you need publishing administration to collect mechanical royalties on international Spotify streams. Unless you’re getting lots of streams though, it’s not particularly urgent. I think I got $26 last quarter from Songtrust.
Hi Brian, Your article is super informative but i have like a series of questions i’m hoping you can help with to help me make my decision if Songtrust is best for me.
I did not have the knowledge of royalties some years back so had no contracts/split sheets signed. So question one: Is it possible to claim my royalties for works as old as 2014??
Secondly i am in a music group and also a solo artist (for eg. Anderson.Paak being a solo artist but He and producer Knxwledge are a duo known as NXWORRIES). Do me and my group members register with a PRO under the collective name or do we just run individual accounts and split percentages when we work togther??
And lastly, If i were to sign with SongTrust, is it possible to receive royalties via direct bank deposits/VISA from Africa? (Seeing as that is where i am from)
Thanks in advance for your time.
I suspect that your ability to claim past royalties will depend on the PRO(s) involved. Obviously, the sooner you get on it, the better!
As for splits and direct deposit, you’ll need to ask them directly. If I were in your shoes, my first call would be to your prospective PRO. They should be able to field all your questions, and if they’re not familiar with Songtrust, that might inform your decision too.
I feel you on asking them most of these questions directly. I actually sent an email to them same time i posted my comment. They are still yet to get back to me but thanks again anyways.
Does anybody have information on kobalt or any experiences with them?
I appreciate any answers at all!
I’ve heard great things about them from Pete Byrne of Naked Eyes. I was recently rejected for their AWAL program, or I’d be able to tell you more. 🙁
I’m surprised to hear you were rejected by AWAL. I wonder if it’s just the genre? Because your quality, creativity, and digital presence certainly exceeds most independents.
We signed up with AWAL last year and really like their whole operation on balance. All we had at the time was a six track demo EP though, which they transferred over from CD Baby fairly easily.
So yeah, I’m curious as to why they wouldn’t bring you on board.
I was pretty disappointed! I was actually having a really good month on Spotify when they were reviewing my application, which I hoped would work in my favor.
The rejection email is just a form letter, though it does say I should feel free to apply again in the future. Feel free to advocate on my behalf. 😉
Yeah I’d be happy to shoot them an email at the same time you apply again, just let me know when you do it! Don’t know how much that might influence them haha, but a good reference is better than no reference.
The no upfront fees or any cost whatsoever is super nice about AWAL. Plus they also have an internal team that helps with getting on playlists, also at no cost. The tradeoff is it’s 15% commission vs 9% for CD Baby.
That’s really nice of you to offer! I think 15% commission is worth it if they earn their keep by getting you on playlists.
Hey Brian, very informative article ! I have read you telling a few people that they shouldn’t be in a rush to attain a publishing admin until they create a fan base and have actual royalties to collect internationally. Lets say I begin gaining heavy international streams/royalties in 6 months, will the publishing admin reach back to collect all of the previous earnings once i sign up ?
I have also created my own publishing company, but would like to know what the disadvantages/advantages are with registering my own publishing company with BMI and with a publishing admin at the same time ?
Distrokid is a distributor and Songtrust is a publishing admin, but both offer YouTube monetization. Although Distrokid charges a extra fee for theirs, what is the difference between the two Youtube options ?
I definitely don’t consider myself an expert in this stuff, but I’ll do my best!
Yes, I’m 99% sure the publishing admin can collect old royalties. I think how far they can go back depends on the PRO, but 6 months is almost certainly safe. Probably more like two years.
I’ve got my publishing company registered with ASCAP and Songtrust. I don’t see why it would make any difference one way or the other, but it could very well be I’m missing something obvious!
I don’t bother with YouTube monetization. I wrote an article comparing Audiam and AdRev awhile back, and concluded the pennies aren’t worth the hassle. My guess is there’s no difference because they all use the same ContentID system through YouTube.
This doesn’t quite make sense. The author asks if it’s worth joining Songtrust or just using a PRO only. But, the PROs don’t collect mechanical royalties, only performance. I hear mechanicals are are larger in comparison. Also, he says that in the US the aggregator (like CD baby) pays the mechanical royalty. that is not what I understand to be the case and that is why they promote their CD Baby Pro service.
I stand by both of those statements.
My mechanical royalties through Soundtrust are pretty meager! My understanding is, as you described, that CD Baby collects the domestic mechanical royalty. If you find out that’s not the case, please let me know! I wrote this article almost three years ago and haven’t looked into it since.
I was hoping there was a pot of gold waiting for me when I joined Songtrust, but it was more like a jar of pennies. I’d say unless you have 10K or more monthly listeners on Spotify, it will take a long time to recoup the $100 investment.
Yes, I think CD Baby collect mechanical on downloads, but not streams. So, that’s another instance where a publishing admin would be important, right? You’re right, you need a good amount of listeners to make a lot of this worthwhile. But, I’m working with an artist who’s relatively small, but growing over time. So, you also have to make these decisions based on what will set you up best for the future, not just at this snapshot in time.
I thought the distinction was US vs international, not downloads vs streams, but I could be wrong!
Thanks! Can you explain the difference between Songtrust, Audiam, AdRev, and Rumblefish? I think I want to join Songtrust for publishing admin. I already have both a writer and publisher account with ASCAP, but Songtrust says they essentially are way better than ASCAP as collecting and registering song/royalties, and of course ASCAP doesn’t collect mechanicals and Songtrust does. But, I also want to sync licensing capabilities. When with CD Baby, they did this via Rumblefish. Now that I’m using Symphonic for distro, I’m deciding whether do sync/content id with a company directly instead of via my distributor to avoid their extra commission. But, I’m confused. There are many companies who seem to be offering lots of services in this regard, some overlap and some do not. For instance, if I joing Audiam, it looks like they are a publishing admin AND they collect master recording royalties via youtube content id, while Songtrust is only the publishing admin. Rumblefish (which I don’t think I can join on my own) does youtube content ID, but I think they do many other microsync things too. Adrev just does youtube content id for songs and videos i believe, but they are not a publishing admin, right. I’ prefer to use a few companies as possible and don’t want to overlap, having 2 companies doing the same thing. I’d love any advice in this regard.
I’ll do my best, but keep in mind I wrote this article three years ago and haven’t made a point of keeping up.
Last I checked, Audiam and AdRev were YouTube Content ID collection services only. If someone uses your music in their YouTube video, they catch it, put ads on it, and pay you.
Rumblefish does that too, but is mainly a music library that will license your music for super cheap.
Content ID isn’t worth the trouble IMHO, and not worth the pennies I like to let people use my music in their videos, and whitelisting the permitted URLs is a hassle. Worse, they can get a copyright claim after you told them it was okay to use the track.
Out of your list, I’m with ASCAP and Songtrust only.
Thanks for this candid, well-written article. My only request is to add the date of publishing to your posts. The comment dates help, but not ideal.
Regarding your publishing company: If you don’t mind, could you detail how you registered it with Songtrust? Does it require its own account, or is it part of your Songtrust writer’s account? What changes did you notice on your backend at ASCAP? (example: Did Songtrust replace your publishing company on the registration forms?).
I have a “Single plan” account (50 songs, $100). I’ve been a BMI writer for over a decade, and have a publishing company registered there as well. I believe I’m currently receiving all possible writer and publisher royalties (from BMI), but don’t believe I’m collecting any mechanical royalties (thought I was, but after much reading online, seems not). Hence why I created a Songtrust account. But before I fill in all my information and attach my catalog …
Thanks in advance for the insight ~Nick
Songtrust doesn’t have any sort of separate registration for publisher accounts. Logging into ASCAP now, I see that my publishing company is listed, and Songtrust as an administrator.
Unless you’re getting a lot of streams, don’t expect those mechanical royalties to add up to much. I’m lucky to see $10 a quarter these days.
Cool! Thanks for clarifying. Relieved to know my publishing company will [most likely] remain on my songs/catalog. It may seem trivial, but it is largely a vanity company after all … I’d like it to remain associated with my works! If for no other reason, search engine results.
I joined Songtrust.. After reading on how much I paid the 100$’s and thought the 15% for there take was o.k.
I don’t remember reading that Songtrust would show up on my ASCAP account as 50% publisher. All of my songs now on ASCAP say, “me, writer 50% and Songrust, publisher 50%. I don’t believe Songtrust revealed that to me. Maybe I missed it. I’m not happy about it. I may drop Songtrust.
Also I’m not happy with cdbaby. After cdbaby having probably 3 owners since I joined, I haven’t received on iTunes a payment that represents a “sale” as compared to “streaming”. First I always had a bunch of “sales” which paid about “67” cents each year. Now it’s been 3 years and I have not received one payment that represents a “sale”. It even says, “sale” on my accounting page but I click on the sale and it takes my to the “details” and it says it’s a “stream”. I don’t get it. It doesn’t add up.
I believe there are still problems for the songwriter. In the way of trying to make a buck. It still is the songwriter pays the industry where it should be the industry pays the songwriter.
Last I looked in my ASCAP account, it showed my publishing company as the publisher, but also listed Songtrust as admin publisher. My guess is you don’t have your own publishing company, so it just shows Songtrust. They are collecting your publishing, so that makes sense. Nothing to dispute there!
My iTunes sales are down too. The 67 cents is when someone downloads, as oppose to streams, one of your tracks. It’s 99 cents minus Apple’s 30% minus CD Baby’s 9%. It’s not CD Baby’s problem that you’re not selling downloads!
As far as I can see, everything checks out for you a-okay!
Thankyou Brian for shedding some light on the “publisher” thing on ASCAP. True, I don’t have my own “publisher” other than I thought “Songtrust” was my publisher. It shows 50% going to Songtrust. Are you saying that I can go out and get a publishing deal and that publisher would then show up on ASCAP as my 50% partner and then Songtrust would just be there but not receiving 50% but would then be listed as my “admin publisher”?
The thing on my cdbaby account summary sometimes says “a sale” but if you click on the details it’s shows a “stream”. True I don’t make a lot of money on cdbaby but I have a lot of streams. Most pay “zero” or .0004 etc.
It’s just odd that I always got paid once a year from cdbaby, going over 100 dollars including having many “downloads”. My personal feelings are that under new ownership of cdbaby I haven’t received one “download” in three years. A little odd to me.
I suppose it would depend on what kind of publishing deal you got, but assuming they didn’t want to take over admin, and solely based on my own experience, yes, Songtrust would then be listed as admin publisher.
I believe in CD Baby parlance, a stream is one form of sale.
It’s too bad that your downloads dropped so dramatically, but that’s most certainly what happened (same with me). CD Baby only stands to gain when you make sales, and 9% of nothing is nothing.
I really have appreciated your feedback. To me you have a pretty good knowledge of the complex world of music publishing, licensing and royalties. I say complex because there seem to be many hands now dipping into the music of the independent artist. The PRO’s, Harry Fox, Sontrust, Soundexchange, cdbaby, onerpm,, etc.
Songhunters.com will let you know all who are looking for a certain type of music and all I have to do is send in every song I have that fits what they want, the only problem is I have to send in 15 dollars for each song. They have got a way of making a lot of money. I believe they have targeted the independent singer/songwriter that is still trying to make it to the big time. More power to them.
Remember TAXI, I think they helped a lot of people but I could never afford them.
Sorry I’m a bit of a cynic.
Your music is good. Some instrumental I think from watching you on YouTube.com. You have a nice voice. The tone I believe has a lot to do with why people listen. It’s good you are making some money.
I never got to be good at “social-media”. I think people that are out-going enough can really make a difference.
For me now at my age, 72, and have been doing the singer/songwriter thing for a long time and also the coffee house scene for a long time I now play my acoustic guitar and sing for my own enjoyment.
Thanks for checking out my stuff, and for the kind words!
As for all the “grabbing hands,” it really depends on how you look at it. You might also say that we have more companies advocating on our behalf to collect money that we otherwise wouldn’t see.
The TAXI and Songhunters submission fees are more of a disincentive than anything, to stop people from sending in anything and everything. They have to pay people to listen, after all.
That said, I’m pretty cynical too! 😉
I have a question for you and hope you may have a thought about it.
Do you ever get these “Notice of Intention to Obtain an Compulsory license”…. I’ve included a copy below.
They are usually from Spotify but have gotten them from other companies.
The problem is that they always show me as the songwriter but some other artist has recorded it.
The only problem is that it isn’t my song and the UPC number is not mine also. And the song they are singing isn’t remotely like mine. The title’s are similar but aren’t my songs.
I don’t feel that my name should be used to obtain these license agreements.
If you know of any one that may help please let me know.
And I would be very appreciative if you have an idea –like is this done intentionally?
Thank you very much.
Hope you don’t mind, I edited down your comment to remove the form text. Yep, I’ve gotten those a bunch!
They are really just to let you know that the song is on Spotify. If they were your songs, that wouldn’t be an issue. Since they’re not your songs, IMHO that’s even less an issue! I wouldn’t worry about the mix-up.
If it really bothers you, I guess the next step is to contact your PRO and/or Harry Fox, but I don’t see any point in pursuing it.
Always enjoy your answers. Thank you very much for writing.
Check this link out.
It seems that there are a lot of artists that have something to say about this!
Lots of great info on that thread!
CD Baby…The past was better than the present. In 2009 CD Baby was sold and never recovered from their original innocence. My own experience concerning PRO accounts is a nightmare. CD Baby took money in full for the pro set-up but after many years, never paid out a single penny from the time I purchased. When I called they brushed me off by saying I should “First pay the publishing fees” When I explained I was the publisher & owner of BMI affiliated Original Sound Music. They ignored me. It Gets Worse. Cd Baby conspired in 2010 to change my artist name and when I refused, they proceeded without my permission to change my artist name on several albums going back to early 1990’s. They also changed the names of two songs on at least one of my albums. The key word here is “STEALING”. Cd Baby is a hero to many members but as far as I’m concerned I’m working closely with countless verifiable documents taken from CD Baby’s own emails spread out on a large desk in full view of another kind of PRO.
Wow, that doesn’t sound like them at all! Sorry to hear you’ve had so many problems. I’ve been with them since the very beginning (Derek actually handled CD sales on my site pre-CD Baby) and they’ve generally been great.
Just want to say Kudos to you sir. I am literally loving these comments and your replies at my local Starbucks getting a plethora of knowledge I didn’t know. Your insight is amazing thanks a bunch!
My pleasure! Thanks for the kind words Joni!
I actually work at AVL Digital (CD Baby’s parent company) and after hearing horror stories from Tunecore customers and what I’ve learned about Distrokid from this thread, I can say I’m happy with how we handle our VIPs. Artist definitely come out on top. (This is non-paid advertisement)
CD Baby has always been my recommendation, and the bulk of my discography is with them. Though lately I’ve been testing out LANDR for distribution and am happy with them as well!
I am an artist from Nigeria, i have released about 4 song and they are all available online for download and streaming, am also about to release another one. I am not making any money or collecting any royalty but i know my song are definitely being downloaded and streamed online. i’ve spent lots of money on promoting it and currently still doing so, how do you suggest i go about getting my benefits? should i sign up for songtrust? Is there something i have to do first?
Whatever distributor you used to get your songs online should be paying you. I wouldn’t sign up with Songtrust just yet.
Okay brian thank you.
Hi Brian, thank you for this article – very informative. I’m based in the UK and use PRS for collecting performance royalties and distribute my music with Distrokid. I’ve used Tunecore and CD Baby in the past and moved over to Distrokid a year ago as I’m realising singles every month and an album once a year – I am starting to get a litte frustrated as the more collaborations you add, the more it costs. I’m not a label, but if I collaborate with 4 artists, I’ll end up paying the label tier. So i’m looking elsewhere and will be gradually moving everything over. Stem looks like a good option at the moment – but it’s invite only!
It’s only recently I’ve looked into the mechanical royalties side and realised Distrokid don’t have a pro upgrade. I’m trying to decide whether I go with PRS’s MCPS (https://goo.gl/qWMvew) to collect my mechanical royalties or Songtrust. Songtrust look great but with 15% commission and a 2% fee to deposit funds seems a bit steep. MCPS is £100 and the commission rate is much lower than this – my PRS performance royalties are 0% commission and they pay me directly to my bank account free of charge. I’d love your thoughts on this.
Do BMI and ASCAP have extra services like PRS, where they collect mechanical royalties? If so, have you tried them? Or is Songtrust the go to?
Thanks again Brian,
I’m not familiar with MCPS, so I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. As far as I know, ASCAP and BMI don’t have similar offerings, so from where I’m standing, Songtrust is indeed the go-to.
As for distribution, I’ve never needed to handle splits, so I’m not sure what other options there are. When I briefly tried Distrokid, I was frustrated with extra costs I didn’t foresee (scheduling a release date, cover songs), so I bailed out and got a refund.
The answer may be in earlier posts but I didn’t see it.
Q: If I am registered as a writer and publisher with ASCAP, is it still recommended I sign up with Songtrust, Or will the two registrations conflict with each other when it comes to collecting royalties?
No conflict – that’s how Songtrust wants you to set it up! I’m in the exact same boat. Your ASCAP payments will come through SoundCloud.
Thanks Brian for all the information and responses to and from people on here. I’ve just read through this entire thread dating back years ago. I’m a songwriter and artist, and have recently set up my own corporation as publisher/label so that I can manage other artist as well as myself in the future. I see lots of people getting into the industry and so many people (myself included) don’t know anything about PROs, ISRCs, publishing, licensing etc. There is a lot to learn and like one person above mentioned, so many hands dipping into the pot these days, it is more confusing than clarifying when you get out there and try to figure out what step to actually take next or what company to bring on board. After attempting to register earlier, I discovered the discount code was not working for me either. This thread being as old as it is, I was surprised to see someone successfully used it last month! Any chance that will be working again? Thanks again!
I just fired off an email this morning, and will let you know as soon as I hear back!
Yeah, it’s confusing stuff. It still doesn’t feel 100% secure in my brain. 😉
The code has been granted 100 more uses! Let me know if you have any trouble.
Thanks again! I got registered using the code! It doesn’t feel secure in mine either. Just when I become confident with my knowledge in one area, I move to another subject, only to find I didn’t know as much I thought I did. Two forward one back it was for a bit, trying to get the ball rolling. I have learned that publishing is where the money comes in as far as the music industry is concerned.
Brian thanks for the article and the code. I used the code without even reading the article and have since gone through and read it and am now wondering if I’ve made a mistake. I understood that SongTrust collected royalties far beyond what a PRO would do, so I thought I needed to be with both. Is that right?
Also, I’ve already put out 12 songs, 9 this year, 32 more already scheduled to release this year, am I going to have to pay to register for each 10 songs that I decide to put out? I wasn’t attached to a PRO yet (am getting signed with ASCAP through SongTrust now) but moving forward should i register with the PRO first then import that into SongTrust to avoid that fee? I’m getting confused at the second paragraph of the article.
Thanks for the article.
No mistake! You do indeed need to be with both. If you’re not with a PRO already, Songtrust will help you get set up.
As for the song registration, you don’t have to pay per song, at least not right away. From Songtrust’s FAQ:
And after that, it’s only a buck a song, which shouldn’t be much of an imposition.
Lets assume you wrote the song, recorded it, own rights to the master, embedded the isrc yourself, etc.) As I understand it…You can register with a PRO as publisher and writer(performance royalties).
You can register with Sound-exchange ( for those niche digital performance royalties).
You can register for Songtrust (or any publisher, to handle your publishing). They will collecting some of your royalties(the PRO will collect some as well) and take 15% of your publishers cut of performance royalties. The (only?)benefit I can see of using Songtrust, is they are affiliated with HFA and will receive your mechanical royalties from them, on your behalf. You could set up your own label/business, sign yourself to that business, release a song, then apply for HFA affiliation that way, which would basically allow you to keep that 15% commission Songtrust takes. This would also give you a little more autonomy in the industry. That being said, it seems that for an upcoming artist or someone not yet making major moves, this is a bit of an extra headache for that 15% that is probably not going to be a lot in the beginning. I hope this is accurate, and that Brian or someone will confirm or clarify if not.
To the best of my understanding, even if you affiliate directly with HFA, you still haven’t covered Music Reports in the US, or any of your mechanical royalties outside the US.
I’m not sure I’ve earned enough from those sources to compensate from the 15% taken directly from my ASCAP payment, but my life feels tidier knowing I’m not missing out on potential income.
Music Reports!! Thanks. I had read about them a while back, but had forgotten all about them as I have been so focused on HFA. It looks like there is an option for HFA to collect outside of the US on your behalf, but that would still leave uncollected mechanical royalties from sources like Pandora and Soundcloud, etc.
I get my Pandora money from SoundExchange. Maybe not all of it? And SoundCloud through Premier monetization. I’m not sure non-Premier artists can collect royalties, except through Repost, which SoundCloud just bought, so…
When you say “If you’ve racked up 150K streams of your music, you should probably join Songtrust.” Do you mean 150K streams across any platform per year? Also, do you know if I can use Songtrust for songs I’ve written for other people (My name is credited on PRO)?
I mean across all platforms, all-time. I’ll edit the article to make that clear right now.
I’m pretty sure you can use Songtrust for songs you’ve written for others, but I’ll ask them to clarify.
Tieran, if you aren’t sure I suggest checking out https://www.songtrust.com/estimate-your-streaming-royalties this will give you a better estimate of your royalties.
The 150k streams number is assuming a 40-60 cent per 1,000 streams USA weighted steam-count on interactive streaming services(e.g. Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, Amazon, paid $8-9.99/mo services). Youtube streaming royalties are less than these. Also worth noting that 150k streams is really from 2019 on, as this is when new rates are kicking in from the copyright royalty board decision. On a historical basis(2015-2018) 200-250k streams may be more likely to hit the $117.56 you need to recoup your $100 signup fee. Some western European countries pay more per 1,000 streams, some less….
If you are close to that number, growing, or have high expectations around your next project I suggest pulling the trigger sooner than later so that you can increase your long term cashflow and ensure the royalties don’t fall into the black box.
Anyone with a percentage of ownership on the composition of a song can register that split with Songtrust (as long as another publisher doesn’t represent your share already). If your split is already registered at your PRO then you should be fine to register your share with Songtrust so we can begin collecting your global performance and mechanical royalties.
It’s important to note that if you entered into a ‘Work For Hire’ agreement where you’re paid an upfront fee for your contribution to a song, you may have given up any ownership stake on the song and would not be entitled to royalties.
Always make sure to reference your agreements for clarification and ensure you have split sheets filled out to get your ownership stake in writing.
Thank you Brian, CJ, and Joe for the replies! You have been great help. I have signed up and am excited to see the money that’s found. My music has racked up a lot of views on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook videos. Is that mechanical royalty money you also retrieve?
I’m curious about that myself! If we don’t get an official response soon, feel free to remind me and I’ll email CJ.
We have entered into a license with Facebook in the USA and have various licenses in other territories as well. We classify this a “Micro sync” License or User Generated Content license(Very similar to how Youtube pays out). There is both a performance and mechanical/sync royalty. At present the royalties are paid out by market share but we hope to move this to a play by play basis as soon as possible(this is up to Facebook).
Hell yea Joe. You’re the man.
Hi Brian and thanks for this post,
I’m a little bit confused,
I’m registered as a writer in France with a PRO (SACEM) and registered as my own publisher in the US with ASCAP, so what will be the difference if i’ve join to songtrust?
Thanks in Advance
I’m hoping someone from Songtrust will jump in, but at first blush, I don’t see how you your situation is different than mine. We’re both registered with PROs as both a writer and publisher, and Songtrust collects several royalty streams that PROs don’t.
Hi Brian, I’ve been with SongTrust for around 2 years, they’ve never once reached out to me about my music, I have thousands of plays through spotify and pandora and have once song with over 170k on youtube. I think unless you go out of your way to contact them they don’t care, they never sent me anything or have followed even one time. pretty bad honestly…
I’m not sure what you’re expecting of them. Are your songs showing up as registered in the dashboard? Are you getting paid for the streams your songs are generating? If so, their work is done.
You’ve got 170 YouTube subscribers and 115 monthly listeners on Spotify. Judging from the comments, it appears the majority of your views on that song came from ads. Nothing wrong with that, but again… what are you expecting Songtrust to do?
Hi Brian, I’m glad to see you’re still responding to this thread. I have released a few songs, and have several more in the pipeline.
If I’m registered with ASCAP as a songwriter and publisher, and I also register with Soundexchange, will that pick up all of my over-seas royalties??
I’m trying to understand where the ROI is on Songtrust.
Is it if I gety radio play?
I was with ASCAP and SoundExchange, and so far Songtrust collected $322 for me that I wouldn’t have otherwise received. Check it out under the “What Songtrust collected” heading in the article.
Hi Brian, (my name is Brian too!) Great article. I have a question for you. When is the right time to join SongTrust to collect on my publishing royalties? I’m in the U.S., but I have a few songs getting streamed internationally (mainly Canada and the UK). According to my ASCAP statements, the bulk of my royalty streams come from SiriusXM Satellite Radio. I’ve “only” earned about $80 to date (on the writer share through ASCAP).
I don’t have a publisher, so that portion is getting left on the table for now. I don’t wanna go through the hassle and $$$ of setting up a LLC vanity company just to collect my publishing. At least not right now.
Do you think now is the time to join SongTrust? If not, when so? Should I sign up for SoundExchange as well? Thanks!
If you’re sure you’re going to keep releasing music, you might as well go ahead and join! It sounds like you’ll make your investment back quickly, and be set for the long haul. And definitely sign up for SoundExchange ASAP!
If I already have a PRO ASCAP both for Writer Share and my own Publishing (ASCAP) (which I register all songs myself), Distrokid, and SoundExchange–why would I need something like SongTrust? Just to clarify, what would SongTrust be collecting on my behalf that the 3 establishments (mentioned above) aren’t already collecting on? Thanks for your time and look forward to your response.
You’re in the same boat I was in when I signed up. As you can see, Songtrust collected plenty for me that I wouldn’t have otherwise received. The breakdown is in the article.
As a newbie wanting to publish some lyrics I have been writing for some time but never yet published, where should I start. I am not a musican – just a writer.
How do you know they’re lyrics and not poems? 😉
Songtrust exists to help you collect the money you’re owed, but you aren’t generating any yet. Are you considering posting your lyrics online, and worried about them being stolen? I wouldn’t let that stop me.
Until you partner with a musician and record some songs, you don’t need to worry about any of this stuff.
Wow, thank you so much for writing this article! It cleared a lot of things up for me. One thing I am still unsure about is how to collect the mechanical royalties from YouTube. Does Songtrust collect mechanical royalties from YouTube, in the same way, say Rumblefish would? I was told the mechanical royalties from YouTube were in a different classification from regular mechanical royalties (maybe because they are microsync?), so I wasn’t sure if SongTrust collected the same ones that Rumblefish might. Also, would Songtrust collect from TikTok? I’m currently signed up with CD Baby (not CD Baby Pro). As of this writing, CD Baby doesn’t yet contract with TikTok, so just wondering how to collect from there. Thanks so much for your help.
I believe that you collect mechanical royalties from YouTube through their ContentID system, which you can access through most distributors, or Songtrust. I’ve written about Audiam and AdRev before, and decided it wasn’t worth bothering. I enjoy the freedom to let people use my music in their videos without hassle, and I can monitor usage of my music through my YouTube Studio dashboard. If I saw that a video using my music was getting millions of views, I might opt in through Songtrust for just that video.
So yes, same as Rumblefish.
I’m not sure about TikTok royalties but the odds of having a song take off there are incredibly slim, and an occasional usage isn’t going to move the needle. Personally I wouldn’t let that sway my decision.
Cool, thanks for your info, Brian. Also, thanks for making this the article that has helped so many (and continues to help so many!). 🙂
Thank you so much for this article Brian!!!
Glad it helped!
Thanks for all the info. I know this is an older article but still very helpful. I am confused by some of the items addressed in the comments though.
So I am in the process of releasing a single. I decided to go with tunecore (we’ll see how that goes) and I am signed up with ASCAP as writer and publisher.
I see two things that I seem to missing but I was hoping you could clarify. Songtrust, will collect overseas stuff so I’ll be signing up with them as well. But then I see mention of soundexchange. Would I still need soundexchange even with tunecore, ascap, and songtrust?
Actually I updated it fairly recently!
Yes, you absolutely positively still need SoundExchange.
I assume TuneCore is just straight distribution and not their publishing, which would be redundant with Songtrust.
That was the plan. Using tunecore for distribution.
As far as copyright is concerned, since in the US you automatically are considered the copyright owner, will songtrust be able to ensure that my work is copyright protected overseas as well or would I have to copyright it formally?
None of the agencies you’re working with has anything to do with copyright. AFAIK, you own the copyright worldwide the minute you put your work in tangible form. I wouldn’t worry about it.
Thanks for the helpful info from your article.
I am new to music publishing.
The 20% discount is still valid. Just signed up using the discount code.
Glad to hear it Jonas! I believe the PASSIVE-ST promo code is evergreen, unlike the early codes that expired after a certain number of uses.
Hey, some info for UK writers thinking of songtrust. I’m trying to decide between sentric and songtrust. I’m here in London. Songtrust use a payment company called payoneer to handle payments, and charge 2% for transferring into a GBP UK account from America! So, factor in that although sentric say 20 and songtrust say 15%, if you are a UK citizen being paid in the UK, you have to use payoneer and so it’s almost closer to 17%. Not quite obviously, but as a quick example: You earn £10. With Sentric, you keep £8. With Songtrust, you seem to keep £8.50, but 2% of that is 17p, so stick that back on and you get 8.50 – 17p = £8.33. I might be wrong, but this seems to be the case. So it’s not quite as simple for Brit songwriters to compare. The 2% transfer fee is extortionate, considering money transfer services can do it for a fraction of that cost. It would be lovely if Songtrust offered better and alternative payment options for non-US residents using their services. You have to dig in to find the information, but it is there. Please let me know if I’m wrong, or perhaps whether you imagine a UK writer is better to stay with a UK company like Sentric. Here’s to everyone’s success.
As you’d probably guess, I have no idea. Your example puts Songtrust ahead regardless of the transfer fee. I’ll reach out to Songtrust and see if they can comment.
Let me just say thank you Brian for this informative and detailed article! I wanted to ask you, and the rest of the folks here, what is the exact difference (pros & cons) of having Harry Fox Agency vs Songtrust or similar to serve as the publishing administrator?
What has everyone’s experience been with each? Is the service at-will, meaning it can be cancelled at anytime, or is there an agreed upon contractual obligation that you have to keep them as your PA? Also, just to confirm, only HFA or Songtrust can serve as a PA or can someone have both, one serving for North America and the other(s) for the rest of the world?
I know that HFA does have free non-affiliated accounts but I’m trying to better understand which firm is better on the global scale, as I’ve read that HFA is primarily more focused on North American royalty collections. All feedback is appreciated and thank you to everyone in advance!
My understanding is that Songtrust works through HFA, and that HFA doesn’t work directly with artists.
I’m pretty sure you can use different publishing administrators for different regions, though I’m not sure Songtrust supports it.
I’ll hit up CJ at Songtrust and see if he has anything to add.
Hi JM – Thats a great question and something a lot of people get confused about.
HFA is not a publishing administrator, they are a mechanical licensing agency which means they get paid by digital streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music to collect and account for mechanical royalties generated on those platforms. They are actually one of three mechanical licensing agencies in the US, alongside Music Reports (MRI) and MediaNet. Each territory throughout the world has a performance and mechanical agency/society that collects royalties within that area. If someone is streaming your song on Spotify in the UK, your royalties are sent to the local societies in that region, which would be PRS & MCPS.
A publishing administrator, such as Songtrust, has direct relationships with these various pay sources throughout the world (including HFA, MRI, and MediaNet) which allows us to register your songs globally and collect any royalties generated within those territories. Songtrust works with over 50 of these pay sources so our clients only have to enter their song data once, into our platform, and we then send it out globally to all of our partners for registration. At Songtrust we also have an Income Tracking Team focused on auditing these pay sources to ensure the proper amount of money is being distributed which is more common than you would think due to data issues and matching processes at the pay sources.
The trade-off is that you’re giving up 15% (our commission) of your royalties in exchange for direct global registration to +50 pay sources with the convenience of only entering your song information once. The alternative is having to directly affiliate with all of these pay sources (many of which will only accept publishing companies of a certain size while charging large upfront initiation fees) and registering each of your songs with correct writer, co-writer, publisher, co-publisher and song data (title, ISRC, ISWC) at every pay source individually. The amount of time it would take to do that would be a full time job which is why publishing administrators exist.
It gets much more complex as each country/pay source has their own way of operating but I’d definitely suggest checking out our Help Center where we have over 400 articles explaining the intricacies of publishing and how Songtrust operates within the space. https://help.songtrust.com/knowledge
Question here? What’s the difference in me going with Songtrust when I am using CD Baby Pro because aren’t they affiliated? When I have tried to sign up with “Songtrust”. I get a reply that states: “A CD Baby Pro account with that email already exist. If you would like to create a Songtrust account please use an alternate email address.”
The difference is, with CD Baby Pro you have to pay by the release. If you sign up with Songtrust directly, your entire catalogue is covered.
It’s hard to trust a “review” where you make money if people sign up to them through your link. Obviously you’re going to only say good things about it.
If there’s an affiliate program for any site or service I talk about, I sign up for it, because why not? If you browse through my articles, you’ll find plenty of lukewarm to mildly negative reviews with affiliate links. In this particular case, it’s hard to see the downside of joining Songtrust if you stand to make money. It’s not like there’s any real competition in the space.
I have had a very negative experience with Songtrust I’d like to share.
I have been with them since Feb 2019 and they have collected a grand total of 20 cents. I have queried many times with their customer service and they kept telling me to be patient, royalties will start coming in soon.
I know for a fact that I should be due a lot more than 20 cents, for example one song I own the master and publishing rights to has over 24,000 streams on Spotify alone. I questioned them on this several times and they kept fobbing me off.
Finally I decided to cancel my membership and it was only when they queried my reasons for quitting that they owned up to the following;
“HFA (Harry Fox Agency) is currently about 6 months behind on song registrations (an issue that has affected many songwriters) I found your song registered at HFA already, which is great, however, they do not automatically license the works as well once they are registered there. I’ve added both ISRC’s to our licensing document we send over monthly to HFA to make sure those works get licensed and paid out ASAP.”
So what they are telling me is that after over a year and a half with them and several queries about this, they never bothered to check to make sure if my music was properly registered with HFA.
Since receiving this I replied immediately requesting confirmation of my membership cancellation. They have not responded to this.
Overall it’s been a really frustrating time with Songtrust, I do not ‘trust’ Songtrust and would warn musicians to make 100% sure they are getting the royalties they are due as my experience of them is poor customer services and very poor royalty collection.
Thanks for sharing your experience Dave!
The way I read your description is that your payments are indeed behind thanks to HFA, and your cancellation prompted Songtrust to turn the screws on them a bit. If/when you do get paid, you’ll never know if it’s because of the extra licensing submission Songtrust did on your behalf, or whether HFA simply caught up.
I wouldn’t expect much either way, at least based on the $24K streams, which probably netted you less than $100 from your distributor. That’s the lion’s share of the royalties due.
That said, I agree 100% that you can’t just submit the tracks and trust that everything will work out. You should check your dashboard and make sure the songs actually get registered, and review your royalty statements.
I’ve nagged them a few times over the years and always gotten a prompt response, usually through the pop-up on the site.
I’m confused by by the previous gentleman’s story. My understanding is Songtrust tracks a writer’s registered songs on all streaming platforms and sales (foreign and domestic). If Songtrust is representing a writer as the writer’s administrative publisher, how did Songtrust not know about the 24K on Spotify and subsequently pay him? Songtrust is saying they pay the writer directly, so I’m really confused what HFA’s involvement is and how they are holding the purse strings. Which brings me to my main question: What exactly is the relationship between Songtrust and HFA? If I sign up for Songtrust, their website says they align a writer’s registered songs with HFA. If that is the case, does HFA take their 11.5% for licensing fees and Songtrust takes their 15% as well? Or, is Songtrust the only entity taking their percentage?
Thank you for answering everybody’s questions and sharing your experience and knowledge.
I’m really not sure if both HFA and Songtrust apply their regular fees, but my guess would be yes. Seeing as we can’t apply directly to HFA though, I don’t see a better option.
There are quite a few articles related to Harry Fox in the Songtrust Help Center, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the answer were buried in one of them!
A couple questions –
Is SongTrust a problem when trying to license my music, like for sync or other use? So the licensing company or agent has to contact 2 places, SongTrust and myself, to get the license? So it’s not considered “one-stop”?
Where would I have to register to get those additional royalties that SongTrust collects?
– Harry Fox
– Music Reports
Would those cover the main sources?
I don’t think that’s a concern. Copy/pasting from Songtrust’s help section:
Here at Songtrust, we do not take any synchronization rights, so you are free to procure these as you wish without our interference. We will forward any requests to you directly.
Brian — Thanks for reply.
I was told by some others in the industry that sync agents and music supervisors won’t like it if music is registered with SongTrust (or CDBaby Pro, or equivalent), because then I cannot be “one-stop” (single point of contact for both master and composition/publishing). I guess the point is that anyone who wants to license the song would have to contact both me and SongTrust. Is that true?
As for the other point, I’ve read some places say (like Ari’s Take) that MLC completely replaced mechanicals collection fo Harry Fox and Music Reports, and other says that is not the case. So not sure if I’d have to register with just MLC, or all 3 (or more)
“You are free to procure these as you wish without our interference” seems pretty clear to me, but you might want to contact Songtrust to be extra sure if that’s a dealbreaker for you. I’ve been with Marmoset for years and it’s never been an issue. As for the MLC, Songtrust handles all that for you so you don’t even have to sign up.
Brian – Thanks again for reply.
I ask the question about MLC replacing HFA and Music Reports (or not) as that would matter if I do decide to leave SongTrust. Then I would either have to register at one place (MLC) or all three for each song.
Right. That confusion is part of why I’m so glad to be with Songtrust. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the ever-changing rights landscape, so I’ll let them worry about it!
Thanks so much for this article, and leaving all the comments up. I have ASCAP as my PRO for both myself as a writer and my (vanity) publishing company. I also have a publishing company registered at BMI, because I had a couple of co-writers on a few songs and made the mistake of telling them to join BMI because it was free.
Side note: I didn’t realize it would cost $150 to register a publishing company, which would have covered the cost of them joining ASCAP! And I wouldn’t have to jump through hoops splitting the percentages.
Anyway, I’m also registered with SoundExchange, although I haven’t gotten much from them, as well as HFA.
Our last release got over 500k streams on Spotify. I got about $1400 from CD Baby (gee, almost enough to pay for the actual pressing, but not quite). We’re about to release another album. Is it worth joining SongTrust as well, based on your experience over the last 8 years with them? The last album was released in 2016, so based on your article I probably won’t be getting any overseas royalties because it’s over three years.
Thanks so much for your help, and for keeping up with the comments all this time.
Sounds like we have the same setup Russell!
If you’re not getting a substantial amount of income from ASCAP, I think Songtrust is a safe bet. If you are, you’ll have to weigh their 15% cut against what they might collect. I’d guess with your Spotify streams that they’ll be collecting a decent amount on your behalf.
My latest royalty reporting is for Q3 2020 and they collected $110 on my behalf, $86 of it mechanical royalties that I don’t think I would’ve otherwise received.
Zooming in a bit, my top-earning song for the quarter got $20, two-thirds of it from Spotify. The track has 92K streams total on Spotify (wish there were a way to get just the Q3 numbers!). The money is coming from all over the world: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Italy, France.
That said, this stuff still confuses me! A big benefit of Songtrust is the peace of mind that they’ll sort it out for you and make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.
Great article and I appreciate you giving us your feedback after all these years! 🙂
If I sign up with ASCAP as a writer and a publishing company like you did, and a year later decide to switch my pro to BMI, will my publishing company still be valid and existent outside of ASCAP? I was just reading the details on ASCAP’s site about their offer on signing up as both a writer and publisher, and it’s not clear to me if the vanity publishing company that you create when signing up with ASCAP will act as a permanent publishing company if I ever decide to switch my PRO in the future. I know that the traditional process of creating your own publishing company is quite tedious, so doing it through ASCAP seems so easy and too good to be true? Thanks!
I have a different take on creating a publishing company. It was a cinch! I just filed a Fictitious Business Name statement and filled out the ASCAP form. Since payment is made via direct deposit, I never even opened a bank account.
Does it have proper legal standing? Beats me, but I’m getting my money!
I don’t see why switching PROs would affect it one way or the other. That said, I don’t recommend switching. Once a rep from SESAC had me convinced I should switch but the logistical hurdles were overwhelming. I’m glad I stuck with ASCAP.
First off, appreciate the article & your replies over the years. It’s been quiet since March. Are you still peeking over here? Have a couple of Qs re: CDBaby, their CS got really bad lately – & YT. The issue is the copyright claim of CDBaby over my songs (am a true DYI, one man show, ASCAP member, former pro musician) on my own YT channel. As you know CDBaby does an album release on YT w/ the generic cover thumbnail. Have released my songs w/ my images on my YT channel & CDBaby claims copyright which is ridiculous since they are an aggregator. No reply from YT & CDBaby in months since my dispute. Regret signing up w/ CDBaby. Have released new songs on Distrokid, no issues.
Songtrust claims help re: these issues. Any input from you?
I’ve been too swamped to put together a new post, but I’m still answering comments daily and putting out my monthly email newsletter!
Sorry to hear about your Content ID woes! Songtrust can’t help. This one’s between you and CD Baby. All they have to do is whitelist the URL of the video on your channel. I’d try them on the phone!
I have to say when I researched tune corp, I found many reviews that were musicians very frustrated trying to get money owned inc. what sounded like sketchy biz practices affecting artists. This was a few yrs ago, Who knows maybe it changed or became better but it only takes a few of those type of reviews to make me continue searching for the right co.
Your guess is as good as mine. I haven’t heard much about TuneCore Publishing since I first published this post. Songtrust, on the other hand, continues to grow without any key competitor that I know of.
Thanks for the article Brian, specifically the numbers… Wishing I joined songtrust now instead of Sentric a year and half ago or whatever it was, I guess I’ll call them up to see what’s going on, but a bit bummed I’ve seen NOTHING come back from this in a year&half… ..(. for reference I’m getting >100K streams/MONTH on Spotify and there should have been some other stuff with bigger gigs back within the 2 year limit… ) I researched both companies and thought at the time Sentric was more attractive… … but all I want is whoever can actually take care of business without me having to nanny them …
Funny you should mention Sentric! They have a cool program where they connect collaborators, and a friend recently introduced me to a rep there to sign me up. It quickly became clear that it wasn’t a fit because I’d have to cancel with Songtrust. No way that was going to happen!
While Sentric doesn’t cover as many territories as Songtrust, I’m guessing they cover most of the major ones. Fingers crossed that a bit of nagging does the trick!
I didn’t read through all – apologies if I repeat sth. I am deep in that materia. For sure you can also get a contract with GEMA (in germany) or any other collecting society and they collec these royalties for you. One crucial thing you ALWAYS need is: put the names of the authors (in this case you are the songwriter) in the metadata. Otherwise in cannot be allocated to you.
That sounds like great advice, but I’ve never had the opportunity to follow it. With Songtrust and ASCAP at least, you don’t upload files, so there’s nowhere to sneak that metadata in.
As for GEMA, my understanding it doesn’t collect everything, which is why Songtrust exists. Perhaps it’s fundamentally different than ASCAP, BMI, PRS, SOCAN, and I’m just not aware of it.
I tried Tunecore publishing and never made a cent. I went to Songtrust about 5 years ago, made my money back in a couple years and then profit from then on. Songtrust is easily the best music investment you can make. The ONLY thing that MIGHT make other options more profitable is if you are collecting for a lot of different songwriters, as you have to pay a fee for each additional writer but for most of us we are only wanting to collect for ourselves.
That’s really good to know! I certainly only collect for myself, but of course I list my collaborators when I register songs.
First I want to thank you for this informative thread! I am a member of Songtrust.
I’ve requested a report on how much they’ve received as their 15% commission for 2021 and haven’t received a response. What do you suggest? My taxes are due on April 18th.
Hey Gina! Their support has been really slow lately, as they’re in the middle of a major overhaul. In fact, they’re auditing many accounts individually and I’m hoping mine will be one of them in the near future.
That said, you don’t need to know their commission to do your taxes, right? They should’ve sent you a 1099-MISC showing your total royalties for the year, which already excludes their 15%.
his company is highly unprofessional and unethical in their practice.
They are delayed in their responses and were not transparent in their responses. Also their lack of industry knowledge by their `publishing specialists` is shocking.
I had a query with them about an issue I had raised about Youtube Content ID and they were very dismissive. I terminated my contract with them after 2 months and I now awaiting my 1 year post term contract to end.
I have all the correspondence as proof if anyone wants further information please let me know.
Do not sign up with Songtrust! You just have to look at the Facebook and Trustpilot reviews to see what a unethical scam this company is running.
Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with support!
I’ve also experienced delayed response times since the beginning of the pandemic. Fortunately, the actual responses (typically from Yoichi) have always been helpful and direct.
I personally don’t use ContentID because I want people to be able to use my music in their videos and still be able to monetize them.
It’s a shame you weren’t able to test out their core offering. Two months isn’t even enough time to get your songs fully registered through your PRO.
After ten years and dozens of interactions with Songtrust staff, it should be obvious that I disagree in the strongest terms with your characterization of the company.
I would not recommend SongTrust. They use Payoneer as their pay portal.
Seems like they are likely affiliated. The Payoneer is the worst of the worst.
Check it out, if you don’t believe me. If they used an honest pay portal like PayPal
or some reputable company they might be an option. As it is: Beware.
What’s wrong with Payoneer? I’ve never had a problem. They deposit my royalties directly to my checking account, which I don’t think is possible with PayPal.
Sounds like you’re really grasping for a reason not to like Songtrust.
Thank you for this article! I have a couple of questions for your opinion. Please only answer the ones you feel confident answering np!
1) You mentioned you don’t do Content ID re: Monetization and you want people to use your music. I want to be able to make money from my music uploaded onto YouTube and I don’t care if ads are displayed (or should I)? If people want to use my songs I feel like that is free marketing, but they must license it. For what I want would Content ID be beneficial for me or will I be able to monetize without it? I think I’m confusing the two terms.
1. If Do they help sign me up with BMI, will I be able to view my account directly as if I signed up myself i.e. have my password etc. Would I have to go through them to access or update any BMI information or use their perks? If after a year I cancel will you close my BMI account?
2. Do they set me up with an HFA, The MLC and Music Reports accounts? If so will I have access direct access to login to those accounts? If after a year I cancel will you close all of those accounts and I will have to set up from scratch?
3. Do they handle getting me ISCR codes?
4. Do they help with sync placements?
5. Do you help setup SoundExchange or will I have to so this by myself?
6. Do they help setup Soundscan or will I have to so this by myself (if I even need this based on my background)?
7. Is the cost $100 per year or a one time cost?
8. They take 15% from what royalty? From sync placements or is it 15% of all my composition royalties from each individual song I upload with them?
9. Should I set up the publishing entity first before registering with them? I don’t want my 1 year account to start until there can be some action going on. I don’t want it to just sit for 1-2 months. I want to be proactive.
10. Their payment terms are still on or before the last day of the following months: March, June, September, and December?
11. If I have to sign up with Payoneer to get paid do they advise or help with choosing the type of account to open up with them if we have to use them to get paid. Does Payoneer charge a fee or have a minimum requirement?
12. How does someone decide to license my song to cover it? Will it be if they hear it on Youtube, Spotify or Soundcloud? Trying to understand what triggers Songtrust to pay me for those type of HFA mechanicals if they handle it.
Thank you for your opinion Brian!
Wow, that’s a lot! I’ll do my best.
In regard to ContentID, anyone can use your song on YouTube without obtaining a license from you. If you opt in to ContentID, any video that uses your music will automatically be monetized, and you’ll get paid.
Personally, I like to give video creators the option to use my music on unmonetized videos. Unless they’re getting hundreds of thousands of views, the payouts are meager.
IMHO ContentID just isn’t worth the hassle.
Okay, Songtrust. Deep breath…
1. I’m with ASCAP, and I have full access to my ASCAP accounts, no different than if I weren’t with Songtrust, who doesn’t have access to my accounts or my password. If you cancel with Songtrust, you’ll still want to stick with BMI.
2. No, they don’t set you up with HFA, The MLC, and Music Reports accounts. They deal directly with those entities without creating a separate account on your behalf.
3. No, they don’t provide ISRCs. Your distributor will do this for you for free, or you can register with the RIAA and issue your own.
4. No, they don’t help with sync placements.
5. No, they don’t handle SoundExchange and don’t collect those royalties. You’ll need to do that yourself.
6. No, they don’t set up Soundscan and you don’t need it.
7. The $100 ($80 with my discount code) is a one-time cost.
8. They take 15% of all *publishing* royalties collected, which is only a portion of the royalties you’ll earn.
9. They will help you set up your publishing company with BMI or ASCAP. You can do it yourself first if you want. Mine was already set up long before Songtrust was a speck in daddy’s eye. I’m not sure what you mean by 1-year account. Again, it’s a one-time cost.
10. I don’t remember what months we get paid. It’s quarterly.
11. I’m not sure if there are other options besides Payoneer, but I’m not aware of any fees or minimums. I can’t remember the last time, or if I ever, interacted with Payoneer. All I know is my royalties, 100% I believe, go straight into my checking account without my having to do anything.
12. I’ve had a few people cover my songs, but nobody ever licensed them! I’m not sure how that works, but I suspect the money would go from HFA to Songtrust to you.
Hope that helps! Apologies if I misunderstood any of your questions.
Fwiw your decision-making process is much more nuanced than mine was. I learned there were unclaimed royalties that Songtrust could collect for me, and I was off to the races!
Thank you so much for helping me with these answers. Trying to get these types of answers is tedious and for you to take the time to do this for me….I am SO appreciative. Really. Thank you very very much!!!!!!!!!
My pleasure! Happy to help.
Hello Everyone on this platform.
Seem songtrust is the best, i have been with songtrust since 2021 Dec till June 2022 i started having problem And they asked me to send my catalog which i did After 4days till now i can’t access royalty part it keep telling me You are not authorized to view this page.
What does this mean.
Can someone help me am so confuse now
Sorry to hear you’re having trouble!
I just logged in to make sure I can access the Royalties page, and I can. Guess it’s just you!
I’d try signing out, clearing your cookies and cache, and logging back in. If that doesn’t work, I guess you’ll have to try support!
Any thoughts on Tribe of Noise? (I believe they also recently purchased FMA)
You can license your music via creative commons for exposure and play across European stores or opt for a PRO license for your song for licensing deals.
The catch is you can’t register those songs with BMI, ASCAP, or other collecting societies. (Something about BMI and others potentially not allowing other non-exclusive deals)
The reason I ask here is I’m debating whether to register for Songtrust or upload songs to FMA or Tribe of Noise.
I had never heard of Tribe of Noise. I’ve got my music playing in stores via AudioSparx. Lately I’ve been seeing comments on YouTube that people have heard my song in grocery stores in Sweden! And I get paid for it.
From my two-minute perusal of the website, TON doesn’t look like a great bet to me. Not being able to collect royalties on your songs seems like a steep penalty. I suppose you could always try it with a track or two and see what happens. I wouldn’t.
Great perspective, as usual.
I discovered that I am leaving money on the table. And possibly a lot of money.
– My track Three Bridges did it quite good on Spotify and I also got an additional, very respectable amount of money through the GEMA (the German PRO).
– My piece Akemilonga, on the other side, is not very popular on Spotify (3137 all-time streams) and I got through the GEMA, accordingly, a small amount (8,62 €)
– AND my track ‘Kate Crackernuts’ is something in between: it got over 100.000 streams (since 2016) BUT exactly ZERO € through the GEMA. It should have received roughly 30 times more than the previously mentioned track Akemilonga. Not zero, but something around 240€.
– Another track, Trost, has over 250.000 streams and got only 1,38€ (I am only speaking here all the time abut the category digital, not live). I should have received 800 €. This is not peanuts.
I am claiming to the GEMA, of course.
How is this possible? And how can I solve this?
Spoiler: my thought is engaging some music publisher such as Sentric, which is (in theory only) more efficient than any PRO. Here I read that SongTrust might be at least as better than Sentric. Is there a third possibility?
Do you have another solution or suggestion?
Would you still recommend SongTrust to do the dirty job?
That’s potentially very good news!
My first contact would be with GEMA, because even if Sentric or Songtrust could collect the publishing, you’ll still be missing the writer’s share.
I was approached by a Sentric rep last year and decided to stick with Songtrust. Sentric does the same thing but Songtrust covers more territories. I’m sure there are other distinctions but switching would be absolute hell regardless.
You could also just sign up with Songtrust and ask them about pursuing the missing royalties. I’m not sure how quick support is these days, but earlier in the pandemic they were pretty behind.
Do I need Songtrust if I’m already registered with the MLC? It’s not clear to me what additional value they provide. Thanks!
The MLC doesn’t collect mechanical royalties outside of the US. Songtrust automatically registers your songs with the MLC, along with all the other societies and pay sources they work with.
Stealing from the Songtrust help center…
The MLC does not collect or distribute royalties for any of the following usage types:
Non-interactive streaming (e.g., online radio)
Public performances of any kind (e.g., live shows, radio, TV)
Audiovisual (e.g., YouTube, TikTok, Amazon)
Lyrics, lyric stickers (e.g. Instagram)
Any non-US generated usages
However, Songtrust is well-placed to ensure that our clients continue to receive royalties from the above types of usages via our network of more than 60 pay sources.
Fails completely as aof publishing admin
After 2 years registered I can confirm that Songtrust cannot fulfill a music publishing administrators two main responsibilities: registering works and collecting royalties on behalf of songwriters.
According to several communications asking for and receiving explicit clarification, Songtrust:
1) is unable to verify which societies works have been registered to and, consequently, unable to know from which societies royalties should be claimed from and expected.
2) does not keep or track ISWCs of works and, consequently, cannot trace, track, and collect royalties on any derivatives of a given work (composition) on behalf of the writers.
In short, Songtrust deserves negative stars for providing a non-service, representing a “place” where I unfortunately parked 31 of my titles for 2 years, letting them collect cobwebs. They’ve now all been removed.
If any Sentric client reads this, please share your experience to help determine next steps.
Any other options?
Thanks for sharing your experience Pantelis!
I can confirm that support has been slow ever since the pandemic and hasn’t gotten much better. My two contacts there are now gone so I reached out to support for a new go-to and haven’t heard back.
That said, all my works have been registered with ASCAP. I don’t see any reference to ISWCs on either ASCAP (unless it’s the same as Work ID) or Songtrust. I’ve never needed to provide one though! Also, I’m not dealing with any derivative works.
I haven’t asked them which of the couple hundred societies a particular one of my works is registered with, and I can understand them not wanting to get into the weeds on that. The song detail view indicates “Your song has started to be registered at societies!” and that’s all we get.
I’m guessing your particular needs probably aren’t going to be met by either Songtrust or Sentric, but I hope I’m wrong!
Thank you for replying, Brian.
ISWC number are unique IDs of a composition (not recording) issued by your “home” PRO (i.e. the one you are registered with as a writer). These numbers can be found on a work’s PRO (e.g. ASCAP) record under “Performers and Other Info” and usually start with the letter T.
Each song can only have a single ISWC (like a finger print) regardless of recording (which is assigned a ISRC number per recording/re-master) and regardless of PRO or society where it is registered, which issues a work ID (e.g. a 9-digit number for ASCAP and a different number per society).
All ISWCs are deposited to an international database which keeps track of all societies a song has been registered to, by listing each society’s work ID for the given ISWC. Retrieve your ISWCs from ASCAP and try yourself.
Here is an example for one of my works “Now You’re Gone” ISWC: T3020296402
1) go to https://iswcnet.cisac.org/
Agree to the various terms and select your language on the next page.
2) enter T3020296402 in the ISWC search field and click Search.
3) click on “view more” to the right of the song title.
4) scroll down and you’ll see that the work has been registered only to 3 societies beyond ASCAP (where I had registered myself).
3 out of >150 they advertise they register, after 2 years of the songs sitting there.
As it was explained by Songtrust support staff, upon cancellation of my account, they cannot provide a list of societies registered because most societies don’t send confirmation.
Had they saved the ISWC numbers they would have been able to
a) find out which of the societies had registered the songs (as you just did for one of my songs, via the iswcnet.cisac website) and
b) re-submit to the societies where the song did not register.
But this organization targets independent artists like me, while it has no intention of working on their behalf. Songtrust only devotes man hours to clients with high traffic, where the 15% commission is significantly larger than the cost of administering the works. For the rest of us, they do nothing and simply recruit us for the registration fee ($70-$100). I estimate that only ~5-10% of the ~400k songwriters registered with Songtrust generate enough royalties for Songtrust to spend man hours to try and collect them. The rest of us have simply provided a ~$3,000,000 capitalization. Since their registration fee is one off, the only way to re-infuse the company with free cash is through independent (and naive) songwriters’ registration, which explains their aggressive (and misleading) advertising campaigns on Social Media, specifically targeting home-based singer songwriters.
I’ll reach out to Sentric and only proceed if I am able to get specific answers to the two simple questions:
Do you collect and retain ISWC information?
Do you maintain a list of societies where works have been registered to?
Good luck to us!
That was quite a ride Pantelis! Thank you for the guided tour!
You really have to dig for the ISWC on the ASCAP site, hidden under the “more” dropdown.
I searched ISWC Network for my 2018 song “Glory Days” and there are 10 “agency work codes,” which I assume is what you’re referring to. SOCAN is listed twice for some reason, so I count 9 societies.
Another ancient song only shows 2 societies. The oldest song listed at Songtrust shows 8 societies, and my top-earning song shows 12! Coincidence? Maybe not. Finally, my most recently registered solo track shows 6 agencies.
I’ve got a collaboration with a Sentric artist, but it doesn’t show an ISWC in ASCAP. Maybe it takes a while to get assigned? I was hoping that might give us some answers.
I’ll ask him if he can give me a couple ISWCs to look up!
As for your scam allegation, I doubt I’m a high-traffic client, yet I’ve taken in much more than the setup fee. All I know for sure about Sentric is that they cover fewer territories. If I had to pick today, I’d still opt for Songtrust.
That said, I’m also skeptical of the business model. They likely devote the most support hours to the artists least likely to generate royalties, just because publishing is so needlessly complicated. If they’re stretched as thin as they seem to be, they’d be better off charging an annual “discouragement” fee.
Let me know if you hear back from Sentric, and I’ll let you know if I get ahold of some Sentric ISWCs!
Is Songtrust suitable to non-Us, members of PRO/MRO outside of US?
If I don’t want to use the YouTube claim service for my tracks, how can I turn off it? Cause I’m selling music through the stocks and I don’t wanna that my client will receive claims in the future.
I’m not sure how you turned it on in the first place! I never opted into that myself. Guess you’ll need to contact support if you can’t find the option.
I carefully read all the conditions during registration, this appeared in the author’s panel after.
I just took a quick spin around the dashboard and noticed the YouTube item at the top of the page. I clicked it and it wants me to get started, but in your case I imagine that would be where to opt out.
Thank you for this article and useful discussion.
Does SongTrust end up capturing more international royalties than one’s own PRO?
ASCAP, for example, claims to have reciprocal agreements with foreign PROs, such that payments should still be collected and transferred to ASCAP.
See here: https://www.ascap.com/help/royalties-and-payment/payment/international
I’m with ASCAP myself. My understanding is PROs don’t capture mechanical publishing royalties at all, but it’s been a while since I’ve thought about this stuff. I just know that I’m collecting money through Songtrust that ASCAP didn’t capture for me!
Does SongTrust affect sync licensing at all? I’ve been advised by several veterans in the sync world that one should avoid SongTrust and other publishing admins, as one is then no longer a “one-stop” for licensing.
This seems strange to me, as SongTrust claims they do not interfere with sync license deals.
Any pros/cons with SongTrust then in regards to sync (and other) licensing?
Interesting! Sad to say I haven’t had any sync action for a long time now, so I wouldn’t know. My understanding is that it shouldn’t matter.
Understood. Thank you for the quick replies. Perhaps others can weigh in here if they see the questions….
Hi there, is it normal that Songtrust still reviewing my new tracks more that a month?
Checking my account, everything since September is still marked “processing.” If that’s what you mean by reviewing, then yes. Wish there were a way to expedite it!
wow! That’s crazy, I also wanna upload all of my tracks, but I still can’t turn off Youtube Claim, the button is just not pressed, and support is not responding. Starting to regret joining
My sense is they’re just overwhelmed. I’m convinced it’s still our best option to collect those royalties, but it would be nice if they could get back to pre-pandemic response times.