So what do you need to do?
3 simple steps to protect your rights, and any income from your music.
Step 1: Register Your Songs With The US Copyright Office and National Libraries
If you are not living in the United States, this section STILL APPLIES TO YOU. As soon as you put your music on the internet in any form they will be crossing copyright regions into the United States as soon as a US visitor plays or downloads your song.
If you plan to sell your songs registration with the US Copyright Office is absolutely essential.
The US Copyright Office is part of the US government. They maintain a database of songs with copyright claims of ownership on a certain date. It's cheap at about $35 per submission. Submissions don't need to be a solitary song, you can submit an album worth of material and the cost will still be $35.
There is an online submission site for the US Copyright Office:
Electronic Copyright Office
For further information please visit the US Copyright Office.
Write out Lead Sheets for your songs and then submit them to your national and other important libraries. Submit your lead sheets to, for example: the British Library, Oxford & Cambridge Library, The National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, in the UK, Trinity College, Dublin; and in the USA: the U.S Copyright Office - Library Of Congress etc.
I would strongly suggest that you write out lead sheets for your songs and then submit your works to the big libraries before sending anywhere.
Step 2: Create An ISRC Code And Encode It Into Your Recording Master
An ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) unique to you and the recording and is added to your track master. It identifies the specific recording of the song as being yours. This makes the job of logging radio airplay and that makes royalty collection much easier.
The RIAA no longer supplies ISRC codes. US citizens should now apply for ISRC registrant codes to the USISRC
USISRC Website: https://usisrc.org
In the UK you should request your unique base ISRC Code from the PPL.
PPL Website. http://www.ppluk.com/
From the base ISRC code you can create an entirely unique code for each recording you intend on releasing.
For general ISRC information please visit
When you send your music (in any recorded form) to a radio station, make sure you include a TYPED PAGE containing the ISRC codes for the submitted songs.
- Radio stations do not extract ISRC codes from wav files, MP3 files, CD's or CDR's.
- ISRC Codes are not embedded into the audio files on a CDR
- ISRC Codes are not embedded in MP3 Files when they are converted from wav files
- ISRC Codes can be included in MP3's using ID3 Tags to add information about the song name, artist, copyright etc to be embedded.
Sending someone a mastered CDR does not automatically provide them with your ISRC codes. You need to supply accompanying documentation.
To encode an ISRC yourself yo uwill need a redbook capable CD authoring program. Both Wavelab 7 Retail and CD Architect 5.2 are capable of doing this. Adobe Audition CS5.5 I understand no longer supports this format but they are reconsidering reintroducing it. Make sure you review the specifications before you buy a product as specifications DO change!
Step 3: Register Your Songs With A Performing Rights Society
Depending on exactly what country you are in will make a difference to which rights society you register your songs with.
To start off with you will need to register with the appropriate performing rights society , and then register your songs with them. When you register your songs you will be able to include your ISRC codes in the song registration.
Many performing rights administrators provide software to easily allow you to register your songs and edit any song information that you place in their database.
In the US ASCAP, BMI and SoundExchange in the UK PRS For Music are common collection agencies. Each country has one or more collection agencies representing songwriters and publishers. There are many more. You can find a list of collection agencies here:
If you would like to talk about this article or any of the points raised please go to:
Songstuff Songwriting and Music Community
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below!