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, as well as mechanical licensing agents internationally.

Songwriters who sign up for Songtrust can affiliate with a Performing Rights Organization 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 -- Songtrust will send a Letter of Direction to the appropriate PRO informing them that we will be administering those songs on the writer's behalf.  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 within a few days.  The various societies process the registrations at different rates, 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.  Songtrust takes a 15% commission on all royalties collected.  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 can  opt-in to our YouTube Monitor, which allows us to claim and monetize user-generated content on YouTube that uses our clients' music.

This YouTube playlist will walk you through setting up your Songtrust account.

How much does Songtrust cost?

We charge $100 up front per writer to cover set-up 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 PRO.)

The only other cost is for song credits. Your account starts with 50 song credits for free. Transferring titles using our transfer tool does not affect your credit count. If you need more than 50 credits, we charge 10$ per 10 songs going forward. If you are registering a catalog of hundreds or thousands of works, please contact us. We may discount your song credit fees.
If you are adding 5 or more writers at once or an exceptional earner, we are able to offer discounted rates as well. 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 CDBaby. 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 CDBaby 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 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 also 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:

Territory List

Pro / Society List 

Direct Digital Collection List

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 45+ societies, covering 296+ 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 collect from the remaining territories through reciprocal deals, sub-publishers, and local agents.

Songtrust allows for 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:

Territory List

PRO / Society List

Mechanical Royalty Sources

How Far Back Can You Collect My Royalties?

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

Most of the societies that we collect from are able to collect royalties as far back as 2-3 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. 

If you would like us to inquire about retroactive collection, make sure you have added all of your titles to your account along with ISRC/recording information. Then, let us know in the Songtrust Chatbox and we'll be sure to reach out to the appropriate societies to inquire about your past earnings. 

If we successfully collect retroactive royalties, their payment will most likely come two or three quarters after your inquiry.

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 once your songs are registered before you will 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 ISRCs to your songs--this is very important, particularly 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. Thus payments are sent via Payoneer or by check on or before March 31st, June 30th, September 30th, December 31st. You will receive a check directly from your PRO for the songwriter's share of royalties (this will arrive typically one quarter prior to your Songtrust payment containing 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 interested in learning more about or requesting an Express Royalty Payment, please email us at royalties@songtrust.com 

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 share and the publisher 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 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 share to Songtrust. 

In addition, Songtrust has also begun collecting your writer share directly from some sources, like Amazon Prime Music and Google Play. Why? Songtrust collecting 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 out the writer performance royalties at 100% instead of the commission rate you agreed to when signing up with Songtrust. 

Right now, we are only collecting direct from a few select sources, so for income resulting from other places, the writer will receive their writer share directly from their 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 the chatbox ! 

Can Songtrust Collect My YouTube Royalties?

Collecting royalties from YouTube videos

Yes!  Songtrust offers YouTube monetization as a free addition to our worldwide publishing administration. You can opt into our YouTube Monitor in your Songtrust account. Songtrust monetizes compositions ONLY. If you own your sound recordings, you'll want your distributor/label/a third party to help monetize those on your behalf.

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.

Once you're opted in to the YouTube Monitor, be sure that you've added recordings to your songs, and marked them as "significant" so our system knows to search YouTube for them.  Your YouTube Monitor will have a queue of Potential Claims, videos our system has scraped from YouTube that it believes are using your compositions. We identify this user-generated content using key words that you can manage that identify your catalog. 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.

We will only deliver works to YouTube where we have an ISRC, so make sure to add recordings to all of your songs that you want monetized on YouTube.

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, just send us a message in the chat box on your Songtrust account.
 
 Click here to get more details about Songtrust's YouTube administration.

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

Yes, Songtrust is here to support individual songwriters and creators at but also their teams and the real ways they work. 

 

Access is a feature on Songtrust’s online dashboard that allows one account to be shared or “accessed” across multiple user accounts.

This means that you can invite a person via email to join Songtrust and specify which songwriters they can view or have full access to their account. If the invited person is already a Songtrust client their existing account will be granted access to that writer’s account. 

For example:

Songwriters

    • Can invite their manager, lawyer or business manager to view or edit their information

Managers, lawyers, or publishers

    • Can house all their songwriters under one account, create independent accounts and logins for each songwriter, and invite them to view or edit information that only pertains to the individual writer

Bands

    • Members can have individual accounts and also have a collective band account that brings them together into one place
    • Individual band members can receive separate payments for their shares directly, as well as register works they may write outside of the band, but also have a collective band account to manage band works in one place.

What kind of access do I get?

Read-Only: Allow others to see

  • Songwriter information
  • Royalty report
  • Songs and split information

Full Access: View and edit

  • Songwriter information
  • Royalty report
  • Songs and split information
  • Add or remove songs

All accounts include the following:

  • One songwriter credit
  • Access to a direct chat box with our Songtrust Support Team
  •  Free affiliation for your writer(s)
  • ISRC Claiming tools
  • YouTube Claiming tools
  •  Global Publishing Registration Tools
  • Royalty Reporting 
  • Live Setlist Submission Tools
  • And more...

Check out this video demo of adding songwriters, this video demo of our royalty reports
 

 

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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