How Does Songtrust Work?

Songtrust provides worldwide publishing administration services to independent songwriters, publishers, labels with publishing arms, managers, lawyers, distributors, and anyone else representing compositions. We act as a publishing administrator for our clients, meaning we can register songs and collect royalties on their behalf without owning any percentage of their copyrights. Using our seamless online service, you register songs with multiple agencies all over the globe – and will only need to do this one time per song! With Songtrust as your administrator, your works will be connected to Performing Rights Organizations (PRO's), as well as mechanical licensing agents internationally.

Songwriters who sign up for Songtrust can affiliate with a PRO through us -- if they're not already affiliated -- and begin registering their songs. Songtrust then registers those songs with 45+ performance and mechanical collection societies worldwide in order to collect royalties generated from sales, streams, radio play, live performances, television broadcasts, etc.

If a songwriter is already affiliated with a PRO, they can transfer any songs already registered with that PRO to their agreement with Songtrust. Your agreement with Songtrust is on a song-by-song basis, so you can choose which songs you'd like us to administer on your behalf. We will then register those songs with the other societies with which we work worldwide. If the writer also has a publishing entity with their PRO, Songtrust can collect royalties on behalf of that entity.

PRO applications, letters of direction, and songs are reviewed by our team and sent out (if needed) within a few days. The various societies process the registrations at different paces, and pay royalties out on varying timelines, so it typically takes 9-12 months before clients see their first royalty statement. After the initial statement, as long as royalties are being generated, they'll be paid out by us quarterly on the following quarter they are released. Songtrust takes a 15% commission on all royalties we collect on your behalf.

Songtrust also does not take any sync rights, so clients are free to procure licensing opportunities as they see fit. If you do want us to handle a sync or mechanical license on your behalf, we can certainly do so for our 15% commission.


Songwriters can also use Songtrust to register setlists from live performances worldwide in order to collect royalties from those performances. Writers are opted-in to our YouTube Monitor, which allows us to claim and monetize user-generated content on YouTube that uses our clients' music.

Visit our Help Center to watch demo videos that will walk you through setting up your Songtrust account.

How much does Songtrust cost?

We charge $100 upfront per writer to cover setup and administrative costs. We also take a 15% commission on any royalties that we collect on your behalf. We only collect your 'publisher's share' -- you would receive your 'writer's share' directly from your Performing Rights Organization (PRO).

If you are adding 5 or more writers at once or an exceptional earner, we are able to offer discounted rates. Please contact us at sales@songtrust.com for discount inquiries.

You can sign up for Songtrust here.

I already use a Distributor like Distrokid or CD Baby. Can I still use Songtrust?

Yes.

The difference between the recording and the composition.

It is important to know that there are two types of ownership when it comes to music. There is the 'recording' / 'master' side, and the 'composition' / 'publishing' side. Traditionally this is broken up by labels (recording), and publishers (composition). More recently, things have changed, and independent creators can now handle both sides of the ownership.

Labels and distributors like Distrokid and CD Baby handle the distribution of your music, placing your music in stores like Spotify, iTunes, etc. In general, distributors will pay you royalties from your ownership of the recording. Unless you enter a publishing agreement with your distributor, you are likely not collecting your royalties from the ownership of your composition, in other words, your music publishing royalties.

Songtrust is not a distributor. Songtrust is a publishing administrator. We are a 1-stop-shop for collecting on all of your publishing rights. So, using a distributor to collect from your 'recording' ownership and using Songtrust to collect from your 'composition' ownership will cover all of your royalty collection needs.

What does Songtrust do that my PRO doesn't do?

Your Performance Rights Organization (PRO) collects performance royalties in its home territory. While they say they are able to collect internationally, they do so through reciprocal deals with foreign PROs which often result in delayed registrations (if the songs get registered at all). This often leads to delayed and incomplete royalty statements from foreign territories.

We register your works directly with PROs around the world in order to collect your royalties directly from the territories in which they were generated. This gets you paid more quickly and with more detailed royalty statements.

In addition, your PRO does not collect mechanical royalties generated from sales/streams. We are affiliated with mechanical collection societies and some digital services themselves in order to collect your mechanical royalties globally.

Check out these links that outline our direct collection network:

Check out this link that outlines our direct collection network: Collection Sources

 

Where Does Songtrust Collect Royalties From?

Find out more about Songtrust's global collection network.

Songtrust collects performance and mechanical royalties from about 95% of the music publishing market. If you use Songtrust, you have access to direct collection from 50+ societies, covering 150+ countries/territories.

These direct relationships not only allow us to collect your royalties as quickly and accurately as possible but also with as few fees as possible. We are able to collect from the remaining territories through reciprocal deals, sub-publishers, and local agents.

Songtrust allows you to collect your music publishing royalties globally all in one place. No need to register your works in multiple places anymore.

You can find complete lists of our sources for collection here: Collection Sources

How Far Back Can You Collect My Royalties?

Sometimes, we are able to collect royalties earned before registration.

Most of the societies that we collect from are able to collect royalties as far back as 1-2 years. We make no guarantees about our ability to collect retroactively, as this depends on the individual societies and may be affected by any past publishing deals you may have had in the past.

However, the best way to make sure you are able to receive retroactive royalties is to make sure you have added all of your titles to your account with the correct co-writers and splits, along with ISRC/recording information.

If we successfully collect your retroactive royalties, this payment will most likely come two or three quarters after your first royalty statement from Songtrust. For example, if your first royalty statement from Songtrust was Quarter 1, then you can expect to see retroactive money start coming in during Q2 & Q3 of the same year. 

How Long Does It Take To Start Collecting Royalties?

Royalty payment timelines

Songtrust collects from a myriad of revenue sources, with each source paying out on their own timeline.

When first signing up with Songtrust, it will take an average of 9-12 months before you see your first royalty payment. This is because, on average, it will take around 9-12 months before your catalog is fully registered globally. Once this step is complete, we then begin to receive and process payments from the various societies around the world. Once Songtrust receives royalties for your registered musical works, you will receive these earnings at the end of that quarter, so long as you accumulate enough royalties to make the $5 minimum payout.

It is important to note that some societies prioritize based on total earnings--so the higher earners will be paid out faster.

Also, don't forget to add International Standard Recording Code's (ISRCs) to your songs--this is very important, especially for collecting mechanical royalties, and can greatly speed up the collection process.

If you have a significant amount of streams and don't think you are receiving the correct amount of royalties, just send us a message on the Songtrust chatbox on your account, and we'll be happy to look into your catalog further.

How Often Do You Pay My Royalties?

Royalty payment schedule and guidelines

If you have earned royalties, Songtrust distributes them quarterly if you have reached the $5 minimum payout. These payments are sent via Payoneer, generally, the last week of each quarter, as listed on our full schedule. Actual dates may vary.

You will receive a check directly from your Performance Rights Organization (PRO) for your songwriter's share of royalties (this will arrive typically one quarter prior to your Songtrust payment which contains the publisher's share).

We also offer Express Royalty Payments as a way to collect your royalties early for an additional 5% commission on top of your contracted rate. If you are interested in learning more about or requesting an Express Royalty Payment, please fill out our Express Royalty Payment form.

What's the Difference Between the Writer's Share and Publisher's Share?

And why does it matter?

Every composition has two sets of rights: the writer's share and the publisher's share. As the copyright holder/creator, you inherently own both shares. However, you can choose to transfer all or some of the rights in the publisher's share through a publishing or co-pub deal. Performance royalties have always been split this way, with one half being sent to the songwriters directly (writer share) and the other half is required to be collected by a publisher (publisher share).

However, thanks to administration services like Songtrust, you now have the option to maintain 100% ownership of both your writer and publisher share, and still be able to get both sets of royalties without having to sacrifice any ownership! By entering into an administration agreement, rather than a publishing or co-publishing deal, you maintain ownership of your rights as a copyright holder and instead solely transfer administration rights in the publisher's share to Songtrust so we can collect your publisher's share.

In addition, Songtrust has also begun collecting your writer's share directly from a few sources, such as Amazon Prime Music and Google Play.

Why?

Having Songtrust collect your full amount directly means you get your money faster and there’s one less hand in your pocket taking a collection fee. We pay writer performance royalties at 100% instead of the commission rate you agreed to when signing up with Songtrust.

Right now, we are only collecting directly from a few select sources mentioned above, so writer's share royalties from other places will be delivered to the writer directly by their Performance Rights Organization (PRO).

If you release music in the United States, 100% of mechanical royalties are collected by the publisher. If you have questions about mechanical royalties in other countries, shoot us a message via our Support Form.

Can Songtrust Collect My YouTube Royalties?

Yes! Songtrust offers YouTube monetization as part of our worldwide publishing administration services.

Upon registration, you are opted-in to using the YouTube Monitor in your Songtrust account. Songtrust monetizes compositions ONLY. If you own your sound recordings (masters), you'll need a distributor/label/a third party to help monetize those on your behalf.

We will only deliver works to YouTube for which we have an ISRC, so make sure to add recordings to all of your songs that you want to be monetized on YouTube. Your YouTube Monitor will have a queue of Potential Claims, videos our system has scraped from YouTube that it believes are using your compositions. This user-generated content is identified by a keyword search tool that you can update with different keywords at any time. These keywords help find your catalog in videos already uploaded on to YouTube. You then have the ability to 'assert' claims on videos that are using your composition. These claims are reviewed and confirmed by the Songtrust team once they have met the monetization eligibility requirements. 

Keep in mind that if the video is on your own channel, you may be able to monetize it yourself. You can "whitelist" your channel by adding it to the Channel Settings section of your YouTube Monitor. We can still claim any videos on other users' channels, provided that they do not have a proper agreement with you in place.

If you have specific preferences on which videos you do and do not want to claim, please submit your videos in the "Manual Claims" section of the YouTube Monitor in your account. 

*Please note that we can not monetize videos that do not meet YouTube's new eligibility requirements (as of February 20, 2018). In order for us to place ads on and monetize a video, the video must be on a channel that has at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time over the past 12 months.

Can I Join as a Manager / Lawyer / Label / Publisher?

Yes! Our accounts are one size (almost always) fits all.

Wondering if you got the right type of account for your business? You did.

Unless otherwise notified, all accounts look the same, regardless if you are a independent songwriter, a publisher, a label, a manager, a lawyer, etc. The reason is that you are managing one or more writers and their publishing rights, regardless of the title of your business. Account managers can track and filter earnings for each of their songwriters using our user-friendly dashboard.

When you create an account, you receive the following:

- 1 songwriter credit
- Direct support from our Client Success Team
- Free affiliation for your writer(s)
- ISRC Claiming tools
- YouTube Claiming tools
- Global Publishing Registration Tools
- Royalty Reporting
- Live Setlist Submission Tools
- Share account access with others
- And more!

 

Publishing comes with some confusing terminology, so please reference our terms glossary to learn your lingo.

To see more of our frequently asked questions, check out our help center for more information.

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