MUSIC BUSINESS: Why Register Your Music


It’s important to register your music because if you don’t anybody can claim it and it’s difficult to prove that it’s yours. Even if you post on your website that it’s copyrighted you need to copyright it with the U.S. government’s copyright office to be official. For example, what if a TV producer wanted to use your your song on a TV show? You would need to be registered in order to license it to them. You would’t want to miss out on an opportunity like that. Find out about this at Then choose one of these organizations that protect you and collect your royalties for you. In fact, it’s so important the Berklee School of Music ( offers a class in understanding all the issues. Here is a quote from their class description, “Music-related careers are affected by legal matters on a regular basis: from artist contracts, recording and music publishing agreements to copyright law, name protection and business organization.” And they advocate,” …you need to think and operate like a business…” Here is some research we did on ASCAP and BMI. You make your own choice.

ASCAP, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers: a non-exclusive, not-for-profit, collecting organization. Website:

As posted on their website membership provides:

  • Discount on membership to the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • Membership in the U.S. Alliance Federal Credit Union
  • Discounts on health, dental, instrument and life insurance via its musicpro program
  • Discount on ASCAP Web Tools, a set of internet-based marketing and sales tools developed by Nimbit, Inc. for ASCAP members
  • Discounts on music-related retail products and services
  • Hotel and rental car discounts
  • Monitors public performances
  • Collects licensing fees
  • Distributes royalties
  • Protects copyrights
  • Offers creative commons license

  • You can join ASCAP both as a Writer and as a Publisher. The one time, non-refundable application fee is $35. And, there are no annual dues. To view ASCAP’s payment practices see:

    A little bit of history: Victor Herbert founded ASCAP in 1914. His purpose was to protect the copyrights of the writers and publishers, who were at that time, members of Tin Pan Alley, New York’s musical elite who controlled popular music beginning about 1885. Three of the early members were, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and John Philip Sousa. By 2006, there were 360,000 members.

    BMI ,Broadcast Music, Inc.: a not-for-profit performing rights organization. Website:

    BMI advises: “If you’re a songwriter or composer and have written songs that have the potential to be used on radio, television, the Internet, in restaurants and or any of the thousands of other businesses that use music, you need performing right representation, which will ensure that you get paid when any of those businesses plays your song” Membership with BMI provides:

  • Collects license fees on behalf of writers, composers and publishers
  • Distributes royalties
  • Provides a dedicated, password protected website for conducting business
  • Register new works
  • Maintain mailing lists and e-mail addresses
  • Provides direct deposit of royalties and paperless statements
  • Has a number of helpful workshops
  • Showcases and discounts on career-oriented services and tools
  • Spotlights developing acts for invited audiences of recording company executives, music publishers and artists managers
  • Offers discounts on computer hardware, software CD duplication, insurance subscriptions and memberships in professional organizations

  • Some BMI history: BMI was the first organization to offer representation and protection rights to blues, country, jazz, gospel, R&B, folk and Latin musicians and songwriters. In 1939, a group of radio executives recognized the need to provide an alternative source of licensing for all music makers and users.

    Here are some of the workshops BMI offers:

  • BMI Jazz Composers Workshop
  • BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop
  • BMI Songwriters Workshop
  • BMI Conductors Workshop
  • Sundance Film Composers Workshop