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Publishing 101

What is a copyright?

Once you have written down or recorded your song in a fixed form, you are protected under the copyright law. A registration through the copyright office helps protect your songs, but once you have put your song in a fixed form, you are protected. Always remember to put the date of origination on everything you write. 


Copyright means – you create a work and you have the exclusive right to the song. Again copyright exists when the song has been put down in a fixed form (written down or recorded). 


Registration is handled through the Library of Congress, the copyright office ( Follow each step carefully. Some things that you will need handy when you register; your name, address, birth date and the date of creation, if you have already released the song via digital or made available for purchase that is the date of release.

Do I have to copyright my songs?

Registering your songs through the Library of Congress is always the best way to protect your music.  There are a number of people in the music community that may disagree. It is normally the responsibility of a publisher to register the songs and typically is done when the song has been recorded and available for sale or broadcast via radio, television, etc.

What is the current royalty rate?

The current royalty rate in the United States is 9.1 cents for a recorded release. Performance, synchronization, streaming, broadcast, sheet music and ringtones, to name a few, will have a variety of royalty rates and fees that could be paid.

If the song is released in Canada or other foreign countries the royalty rate may be lower or higher than the United States. Royalty rates can fluctuate from place to place from use to use.

What is publishing?

Publishing is the “real estate” of the music business. Consider when you buy a house you own the physical property. Once you write a song you own an “intellectual property.” It’s available for reproducing, distribution, public performance and public display.

When am I considered published?

You are considered published once you release a recorded product. Examples: If you are a performing artist and you sell your music; once you put it up on the internet for listening or make it available digitally, these are just a few ways. Remember once you release the song or available to the public it is available for someone else to record the song.

Do I need a major publishing deal to make money on my songs?

The answer to this is NO! You can be your own publisher.

How do songs make money?

Through the sales of records, CDs, digital downloads, public performances, streaming, ringtones, film/television, advertisements, video games, etc. There are a number of ways to make money all you have to do is use your imagination. You hear music everywhere, so wherever you hear it, there is money to be made.

When a song gets played on a television show, does the writer make money?

Yes, royalties are paid to a songwriter and publisher and whoever owns the master recording. The amount of money to be made varies greatly. Remember everything is negotiable.

Can I send in my original song to Shake Em Up Music?

We only accept approved and referred material. We don’t accept unsolicited songs

How can I obtain permission?

The best way to approach any publisher is to have someone refer you. Here are are few organizations that do that: NSAI, Songwriters Guild and Performing Rights Organizations: BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.

What is copyright?
Do I have to copyright?
Wht is the current royalty rate?
When am I published?
How do songs make money?
Can I send a song?
how do I obtain permissio?
What is publishing?
need a major publishing deal?
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