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Even though most of us pursue music for the passion, it's important to take the music business seriously. We definitely have things to consider if we want to handle our business properly.

When we create music, we can protect it by filing for a copyright.

Once we begin to distribute our music through various outlets (digitally and/or physically), we should make sure that we are properly paid when our music is used within various media.

If we choose to maintain independence as musicians instead of going the conventional route of hoping to be discovered or trying to getting signed to a record label, we may consider self-publishing our music through the major performing rights organizations, ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC in order to receive royalties that are due us when we license our music to be played in movies, commercials, radio, the internet, ring-tones, etc. We may even consider starting our own record label!

Copyright Your Work

Obtaining copyright on your work is probably the first and most important part of properly handling your music business.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to their works and to authorize the use of their works.

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Forming these affiliations represent a huge step toward fulfilling some of the higher-level requirements when properly handling your music business!

ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers)

ASCAP is a membership association of over 250,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers of every kind of music. 

Through agreements with affiliated international societies, ASCAP also represents hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. 

ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership. ASCAP protects the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for the non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works. 

ASCAP's licensees encompass all who want to perform copyrighted music publicly. ASCAP makes giving and obtaining permission to perform music simple for both creators and users of music.

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.)

BMI is an American performing rights organization that represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music. 

The non-profit-making company, founded in 1939, collects license fees on behalf of those American creators it represents, as well as thousands of creators from around the world who chose BMI for representation in the United States. 

The license fees BMI collects for the "public performances" of its repertoire of more than 6.5 million compositions - including radio airplay, broadcast and cable television carriage, Internet and live and recorded performances by all other users of music - are then distributed as royalties to the writers, composers and copyright holders it represents.


SESAC is a performing rights organization with headquarters in Nashville and offices in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami and London.

Performing rights organizations, such as SESAC, are businesses designed to represent songwriters and publishers and their right to be compensated for having their music performed in public. 

By securing a license from SESAC, for example, music users (i.e., television and radio stations, auditoriums, restaurants, hotels, theme parks, malls, etc.) can legally play any song in the SESAC repertory. Without a license from a performing rights organization, music users are in danger of copyright infringement.

When a songwriter or publisher affiliates with SESAC, SESAC then represents the right for that music to be played in public.  Here is a link to their “about” page:


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Harry Fox Licensing Agency

At HFA, you find everything you need to know about using cover songs on your albums and how you go about doing it legally to assist you in your music business!

HFA is the foremost mechanical licensing, collections, and distribution agency for U.S. music publishers. Their processes, culture, and technology are client-driven and results-oriented. They continually strive to add value and strength to the music rights industry.

In 1927, the National Music Publisher's Association established HFA to act as an information source, clearinghouse and monitoring service for licensing musical copyrights. Since its founding, HFA has provided efficient and convenient services for publishers, licensees, and a broad spectrum of music users. 


The Nielsen Soundscan Tracking System Keeps You Up On Your Music Business

Once you have materials available through various forms of the media, you'll need to be even more aware of what's going on in your music business.

Nielsen SoundScan is an information system that tracks sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. Sales data from point-of-sale cash registers is collected weekly from over 14,000 retail, mass merchant and non-traditional (on-line stores, venues, etc.) outlets. Weekly data is compiled and made available every Wednesday. Nielsen SoundScan is the sales source for the Billboard music charts.

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Antonio Neal has written more than 40 cuts for artists such as Stacie Orrico, Darlene McCoy and Tyler Perry.

How To Copyright a Song: Avoid "Poor Mans" Copyright

How To Copyright a Song: Music Protected by Copyright

How To Copyright a Song: BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC

How To Copyright a Song: Guide to Music Publishing

How To Copyright a Song: Writers Versus Publishers

How To Copyright a Song: Payment From Music Royalties

The A To Z Of Music Licensing

If you're serious about learning "The A To Z Of Music Licensing" from an insider in the music business who has successfully licensed and sold his music, make sure to listen to the audio clip to hear what this professional has to say!

Click Here!