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5 Things You Need to Know for Your DIY Music Release

More musicians than ever are taking a DIY approach to their music. But it’s essential that you know how to protect your rights and make money from your music from the very beginning.

Two musicians in a recording studio
Essential knowledge for musicians looking to release their own music. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Here are five things you need to know to do exactly that:

1) What a Partnership Agreement is, and how to get one

If you are in a band or working with other musicians, contact your MU Regional Office to see if you need a Partnership Agreement.

They outline who owns the rights in recordings, how they are used, who makes the money, and what happens if the situation changes – like if someone leaves the band. And if you’re all MU members, we’ll write the agreement for you at no extra cost.

2) How to get a Songshare Agreement if you need it

As soon as a song has been written as a collaboration, it’s important to use a Songshare Agreement so that each writer’s contribution and share in that song is clear.

It will help when it comes to making money from royalties and save you from future arguments.

3) Where your royalties come from

If you’re writing or composing music then you should look into joining PRS for Music and MCPS, and registering your work with them. If you are a recording rights holder or performing on recordings, then you should join PPL.

All of these organisations are collection societies, which means they collect and distribute royalties to musicians.

A ten minute chat with your MU Regional Officer will help you understand where the money comes from and what you need to do to get it, so don’t be shy about giving us a call.

4) When to use a simple contract for session musicians

If you’re hiring session musicians, confirm you have their permission to record their performance, any payment that was made, and the track they recorded.

Doing so protects you and enables them to get any royalties they are due from PPL. If it’s for you or an independent producer, you can use an MU template contract. The one you’ll need is M4 Musician for a Session.

5) What unique identifiers are and how to set them up

Your identifiers could be a unique catalogue number, barcode or ISRC Code, and are a must for any music you want to sell. Contact your MU Regional Office for a chat about what you need for your release.

You will also need an ISWC and Tunecode, which you get when you register a song with PRS. These will make the process of getting the money you are owed quicker and easier.

Become a member of the MU

Are you a recording musician, but not a member of the MU yet?

You can join today and pay only £1 for your first six months – giving you access to benefits such as our contract advisory service and free legal assistance.


Published: 05/12/2019

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