If there’s one thing you should know about being a musician, it’s that making money can seem pretty difficult. It’s perfectly normal to go through a dry spell every once in a while, but there are ways to prepare for it. After all, it’s 2019, which means there are tons of ways to make money as a musician. For instance, you can sell online courses, monetize your YouTube channel, review products online, and my favorite – make money through music royalties.

In this guide, I’ll be providing you a detailed rundown on how music royalties work. But let’s discuss the basics first.

So, What are Music Royalties Anyway?

In case you don’t already know, royalties are payments that composers, songwriters, recording artists, and composers get every their intellectual property is commercially used. It’s important to understand that professionals must obtain copyrights for their works and have a look at the copyright laws in their country.

You can also earn music royalties via different kinds of licensing and usage. We’ll be discussing this in detail in this very guide. The amount of money you can earn typically depends on the music royalty agreements which can vary from distributor to distributor.

Check out my detailed guide on how to make money as a musician.

Types of Music Royalties: All The Ways You Can Cash In

Here are the main types you should know about:

Mechanical Royalties

These are the royalties you earn when your song is sold via downloads or streaming (in this day and age, it’ll count as a physical purchase). This allows you to earn royalties in the music industry every time your copyrighted work is used. Mechanical royalties apply to all forms of music formats including cassette, streaming services, downloads, CDs, etc.

If you’re serious about getting mechanical royalties, it’s crucial you get your music licensed. Check out my detailed guide on how to license your music.

Public Performance Royalties

In one of her interviews to Vogue, Taylor Swift expressed how she wished she had written the theme song of the hit series Friends, because of the show’s popularity and a huge fan base which would have earned her tons of royalties.

Public performance royalties are earned when your work is commercially used in public. This includes television, radio, restaurants, pubs, streaming services or practically any place that plays music publically.

These royalties are typically collected by Performance Rights Organizations and then distributed to their right holders accordingly.

Synchronization Royalties

You’ve probably heard about syndicated TV shows that air across a number of channels. Well, synchronized royalties work using a similar principle. Sync licenses ensure copyrighted tracks can be used in television, films, video games, commercials, advertisements, online streaming and so on (basically any kind of visual media).

It’s worth adding that the licensee will also have to obtain a master use license if they want to use the copyrighted music for a new audio-visual project. The person who wishes to use the music will have to seek special permission from the owner/recording label before using the track. So, basically, you’ll require two types of licenses, a sync license, and a master agreement.

YouTube Royalties

youtube logoPeople are always talking about how they make money via YouTube. Well, it’s time you jump on the bandwagon too. Unlike other kinds of royalties, YouTube is famous for its own unique system – basically, the platform will automatically give track of when your music is played. This is pretty cool since you won’t have to get involved in any of the grunt work (well, except making the music of course).

Getting down to the specifics – YouTube offers its very own Content ID system. This is basically an identification method that allows the platform to keep track of all the music. When your tracks are part of the system, you’ll get paid every time someone listens to your music.

Apart from this, YouTube also keeps track of each time somebody re-uploads your music without your permission. In this case, the platform will monetize the video for you so that you can earn some extra bucks. You’ll have to look up third party companies that will collect these royalties for you. You can do this yourself too, but there might be a long queue.

Print Music Royalties

This is perhaps the most unique way to earn money on this list. A print royalty allows the musician or songwriter to earn royalties for their sheet music. This kind of music is copyrighted and transcribed in the form of print medium. The royalties are paid to the owner based on how many printed copies are sold.

Can I Get Music Royalties For My Tracks?

Well, yes, of course, you can! That’s what the whole point of this post is. Most commonly, you can receive music royalties for being a songwriter or publisher. If you’re a songwriter, you can easily gain sync, performance, mechanical royalties. But you’ll have to research the different kinds of royalties and how you can obtain one for yourself.

But you have to realize that each song offers two copyrights – one that gives the user “master recording” copyrights. The other copyrights are for the music and the lyrics. The former comes in handy in terms of distribution and reproduction of the music.

You should also know the difference between royalties and licenses. A license allows others to use music produced by someone else. On the other hand, royalties are the earnings you generate from these tracks.

Wrapping it All Up

Being a musician may be difficult, but technology has made it easier for beginners and professionals to earn a good living.

For more information, check out my detailed guide on how to license music.

Is there something you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below. Also, let me know how much you make with music royalties. I might just tell you what I’m able to make next time in my blog post.