3 Top Recommendations When Starting Your Music Career

Getting started in the music industry and as an independent artist is exciting and hard work. You not only have to write, play and perform your music but also manage rehearsals, emails, your burgeoning social media presence. You will be arranging recording sessions, gigs and even self-producing. All these elements are essential to succeed in the music industry. But sometimes we forget about some of the less exciting tasks that are important to move forward as an artist. The important admin such as registering yourself as a performer and/or songwriter, registering songs, sorting credits with your collaborators… A lot of paperwork that, whilst not as exciting and creative as writing or recording music, will benefit your career the sooner you set them up. Let’s go through 3 recommendations that we encourage you to follow when getting started as a professional artist. 

Register yourself as a songwriter or performer

One of the first things you need to do when becoming a professional musician is register with the organisations that will look after your royalties as a songwriter and as a performer. In the UK you can find the Performing Right Society (PRS) for Music and The Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL). Depending on whether you are a songwriter, performer or rights owner to recorded music, you should sign up for either one or both of these organisations:

  • PRS represents performing rights and collects royalties for the performance of its members’ work. In other words, if you write songs and they get broadcasted, streamed or performed live, PRS will make sure you get paid every time your song is played. Not only that but PRS is also the home of the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) which collects royalties for the reproduction of its members’ work when it gets released on a CD or vinyl or it gets used for an audiovisual or multimedia production. In short, PRS protects your rights as an author.
  • PPL, on the other hand, is a licensing company for performers and recording rightsholders. Regardless of who wrote the song, every recording has its own rights. Session musicians, emerging artists, major record labels and globally successful performers are entitled to be paid for the use of their recorded music. That’s exactly what PPL does. They distribute the music licence royalties to the performers and recording rightsholders, based on the use of their recorded music.

By registering with these organisations you will be given unique identifiers that will be linked to all the work you register afterwards, making it easier to track collaborations and credits throughout your career.

Many independent artists are songwriters and performers of their own songs. And also probably the rightsholders of the recording since more and more artists record and produce themselves. Under this scenario, registering with both PRS and PPL will guarantee the earning of both streams of royalties from your compositions.

Share Your music Credits

We talked about the importance of credits in a previous article about why official music credits matter. Gathering the credits from everyone involved in a record from the beginning of the process is essential to make sure that everyone’s contribution and work are represented. Companies like Soundways and Veva Sound provide services and tools to help with the collection and delivery of credits in the right format and can be easily implemented in any recording workflow.

But there might be cases where collaborators, producers or studios would not have incorporated these tools. In those cases, the easiest way would be to collect everyone’s identifiers so they can be sent with their names and roles to the record companies or distribution platforms. These numbers can be: PPL number, IPN (International Performer Number) or CAE/IPI number (unique songwriter identifier).

Get your music Heard

When you work with a record label your job may finish when you deliver the record to the company. They will take care of manufacturing the album and online distribution. But if you are not only an independent but also a self-released artist, your endeavours continue. 

Nowadays, thanks to digital distribution companies your music can be delivered to Spotify, Apple Music and all the different music streaming platforms very quickly. There are plenty of them in the market with different price options or subscription plans depending on how many tracks you are planning to release and what your strategy is. In some cases, they even offer other services like mastering, syncing or playlisting. 

But something very important everyone should consider when choosing a distribution platform is how they manage the credits in their releasing process. Some platforms have incorporated the RIN (Recording Information Notification) metadata format to get all the information from the recordings in just one file. In other cases, you can add the credits in the corresponding sections during their releasing process. But unfortunately, on other platforms, the amount of information that can be added is very restricted or even limited to just the songwriters’ names. It is in these cases that it’s important to speak up and communicate with the distributors and ask for this kind of implementation in their releasing process. At the end of the day it will not only benefit you and your collaborators but the wider community of artists, engineers and studios looking to be discovered. 

Want to know more about music business and how to get started in your music career? We teach all the core principles of music business in the music business module of our Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering.