Four Tips on Protecting Your Music

The music industry can feel like a jungle if you don’t understand how vital it is to protect your music.

Protecting your music is the only way to guarantee you can get paid from the music you create while maintaining your rights.

Let me share some steps I use every day on how to protect my music.

A good first step to protecting your music is wanting to retain your rights and/or controlling your masters.

Ideally, as creators, we want what we create to be original, fun and rewarding (i.e. profitable). Rights are where the profit lies. Protect that the most. Many collaborations do even splits that way all creators share equally the same rights.  

As always, consult a music attorney for your specific needs. Also, research the different types of rights like Mechanical versus Performance RightsNon-Exclusive versus Exclusive agreementsCollaboration contracts, Writers versus Publishers shares. Give yourself time to understand this step. Afterward, you'll understand the rights involved with your song master become a lot clearer.  

Quick Tip:  We all heard a few bad stories about the music industry (even if bad behavior happens in every industry), but being knowledgeable about the industry can separate the real from the fake.  

No YOUTUBE beats if you want your music to be on another level, it’s probably best not to use “stepped on” beats. Because for a song to be distributed to the masses it needs authentically one-of-a-kind, original and available. Many "free youtube beats" simply aren't available to sync or they may have a monetization cap.

Meaning after a few thousand downloads it becomes illegal to gain more profit from that song. Another reason Youtube beats are often unavailable is that they are already signed exclusively to someone else. There are cases, however, where it is available and you can purchase the exclusive + sync rights. In this case, a Youtube producer will grant you a percentage.  For example, 50% of the writers share for payment of 2k +

Quick Tip: It is usually more cost-effective to start an original production from scratch by using YouTube beats as references. You can retain your rights plus use the power you have as a rightsholder to broadcast your music for mass exposure.

Collaborate with people you trust music and creativity are essentially trusting the process. Be aware that similar to almost any job, it’s another industry where it is commonplace to shortcut for clout.

If you have the right mindset, good energy with other creatives and you are ready to step outside of the box you're essentially ready to start collaborating.  

Trusting who to collaborate with is the harder part. In many cases, negative collaboration stories come from unclear expectations. It's important to have an ultimate goal in mind when creating.  

For example, before a studio session chat with your collaborator and say I'd like to finish an album to release or get a film/tv/advertising placement or release on Soundcloud or perform it live at my wedding. It can be one goal or a combination of goals.  Make sure you voice your expectations.   

Ultimately, it’s the people you work with that can create your dream collaboration. If you keep the right energy with the right people you will make beautiful music and money! 

Quick Tip: Take it to the next level and encourage yourself to try a new thing during your session

Find your Community 

A PRO is your Professional Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI). Do some research and decide which PRO speaks to you. When researching, it may be helpful to answer questions like What's something I want out of a PRO? Free Workshops? Conferences to attend? Easy-to-use website? Then sign up!, as of today, it's FREE to sign up as a BMI writer. Ascap is about $50. 

Once you're a member, it's time to immerse yourself into your community. You’re about to meet so many songwriters, artists, guitarists, and industry people. 

Network with them, check out what they’re creating. Do they have a strength that you don't? Are they easy-to-communicate with in-person or by phone? Are they looking to collaborate right now?

Aim to attend at least one workshop, community group or annual conference to network now and collaborate in the future. These events happen all over the world throughout the year. Go to one! In many cases the people you met throughout the journey become your future business partner on a track (i.e collaborator) 

After you complete your track with your collaborator, you are ready to add another layer of protection to your song. The next greatest asset a PRO may do for you is through a variety of ways to be responsible for monitoring your music royalties. Examples of monitoring music can include you hearing it at a lounge or nightclub or in the background of a tv show.  

Depending on your agreement terms, your PRO will send quarterly checks for royalties too.

Quick Tip: You can join a PRO from any city, however, most events are held in major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta or New York City.  

These 4 steps on Protecting your Music are a compilation of wisdom given, tips I've learned and the strategies I use all the time. Thank you so much for letting me share this with you!  

Feel free to share with others if you think they will find this interesting. If you have any questions, please reach out. I look forward to hearing all the music you create. see you at the studio! :)