"How do I make sure I get my royalties?"

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Saturday November 24, 2012
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A question from one of our website visitors...

I make hip hop tracks in my home studio and I have just been contacted by a highly regarded rapper for one of my beats to be used as the title track for his new album. HOW DO I MAKE SURE I GET ROYALTIES FROM THE ALBUM SALES??!!

There's no-one who is even moderately successful in this industry who hasn't been ripped off at some point in their career. You should expect it and not get bitter when it happens to you. Many people allow bitterness over bad deals to take over from their creative work. So they lose once, and lose again because they can't free themselves mentally in order to make progress in their careers.

You can't totally avoid risk, but there are some things you need to do.

The first is to register with a collection society. In the US, look into ASCAP, BMI and the Harry Fox Agency. In the UK it is PRS and MCPS.

Other countries have similar societies. They all have their own criteria for membership, so you would need to look into that.

Once you are signed up with a collection society, then you can register your compositions with them. Generally you only register songs that are published or released, so it is unlikely that you would register your beat as a song in its own right.

Once the rapper has done his stuff, then the song is a joint composition between the two of you, and should be registered as such.

Once this is done, you are pretty much sure that you will get the money that is payable to you through this route. The collection society will pay you directly.

But you would also want to receive money from the label in respect of the recording you have made.

This is where things become more difficult. Reputable labels will pay up with no problem. But many labels are somewhat 'flexible' in their accounting and you might not get paid.

This is where a manager comes in handy, particularly if that manager is a lawyer, which many are these days.

So your next step should be to seek competent management. To do this, you need to be able to prove your commercial potential. When your record comes out and is a big hit (with your name on it as co-writer) then you can approach managers and management companies.

Of course, a bad manager can siphon money from you too. A good manager however will make all the difference to your career.

Let us know how you get on!

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