As independent hip hop artists grinding hard on your music, having a steady source of income can make the difference between success and failure.

Whatever your goal is as an independent artist, making a living off your music and being able to focus all your time and energy on your craft is arguably the most important dream for any musician.

We’ve already discussed why touring and merchandise is super essential in helping you create different streams of revenue, now we’re going to look at how you can maximise your royalty collection.

Naturally, though, doing this can be a bit of a challenge. To help make sure that your career in music is going to be as effective and as reliable as possible, it’s time to consider the importance of ensuring you get your most reliable income source – royalties – tied down.



How, then, can you make sure that you get the most out of your digital royalties?

They are going to be lifeblood of your income and for most independent artists, it’s too easy to miss out on money that you are 100% due because you lack the ability or the time to go and chase up royalties. This guide will hopefully help you better understand how to get the most out of your digital royalties, starting from the beginning.

Understanding artist vs songwriter royalties

One weird and rather annoying part of the music industry, especially for independent hip-hop artists who do all of their own work, is royalty classification.

You get different kinds of royalties, but you also get different forms of royalties for each part of a songs make-up. The artist gets royalties, as does the songwriter.

Therefore, dealing with one does not immediately make sure that the other is dealt with; if only life were so simple!

So, seen as your both, what the hell are you supposed to do? Can you claim for both?

Indeed, many people feel unsure about what they should be claiming for.

Seen as the term artist can mean songwriter to so many people, too, it becomes another case of excessive corporate speak in an industry that has become far too commercially driven, leading to all of these clauses and “but” moments that can make it hard to want to be a part of the industry.

This all stems from when songwriters who appeared that wrote their own music and performed it was once rare. So, record companies, as ever, found easy ways to make sure that contracts would be limited and thus hard to get payment for.

While you are an independent artist you don’t have as much a reason to gripe about this, but it’s vital that you understand that, if you do both performance and writing, it might be necessary to claim digital royalties on both.

Using software to track royalties

One of the first things that you need to do is invest in a sonic recognition and content ID program. These are used to help make sure that you have an automated form of royalty hunting that basically means you don’t’ need to do anything like the work you once did.

While you can sign up with a Society, as we discussed before, you can also turn to software to help you automate the royalty recovery process to help you boost your income.

If you are on digital radio stations or any kind of streaming system (and if you aren’t why not?) then it pays to be engaged with moving forward with such systems. It automatically helps you track royalties from just about any digital platform, whether it’s an online purchase or a digital radio station playing your tunes.

The use of a content ID tool can be such a time saver in making sure that you get all of the money that you are due. If you are not using at the moment, then you can find it solves most of the royalty-based problems that you can face when trying to get the most out of royalties in general.

Performing rights organizations – Broadcast Music, Inc.

One other useful team to join is the Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) – they are a powerful society with over 10.5m compositions taken care of across more than 700,00 members.

If you want to be protected by an agency that is also helping everyone from Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton to Eminem and Lil Wayne secure their royalties, then this is the kind of place that you want to be a part of. The BMI makes a smart place to join up to if you want to have even more protection.

Many other systems such as the ASCAP, PRO and SESAC are worth getting involved with, too, as they all offer you a similar level of protection that ensures you can enjoy a much more comfortable view of how royalties are managed.

However, you can only be a member of one – you cannot be a member of all of them. So, you have to find the one that suits your own solutions best.

Digital rights management platform – Songtrust

Another tool worth considering using is SongTrust, which can assist you make sure that you get the help that you need to manage and improve your royalty management and secure every penny.

Founded in 2011, Songtrust is a digital rights management platform which allows songwriters and artists around the globe to manage their music publishing.

The platform enables artists all over the world to recover their royalties directly from more than 90 countries and 20,000 unique income sources worldwide.

Digital Distribution Company

A digital distribution company is another major part of the management and ownership of your royalties, and making sure you get paid the kind of money that you are worth.

These help you get your music on things like iTunes and Spotify, and are very useful for making sure that you can further automate your royalty collection via digital royalties.

There is so much to understand and discover about royalties that it can all become a little overwhelming.

To help make sure you are going to be getting the most out of your digital royalties at the least, though, be sure to investigate all of the above; these are the foundations of secure and well-paying digital royalties when managed with care and used properly.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.