How to register a song with PRS

#Royalties #PRS #Publishing #Songwriting

One of the first steps in earning an income from your music is to license your songs. In other words, you are registering the ownership of your music, to ensure that the music industry knows who to pay for the right to play your track.

One of the first steps in earning an income from your music is to license your songs. In other words, you are registering the ownership of your music, to ensure that the music industry knows who to pay for the right to play your track.

Rather than thousands of confusing agreements, songwriters, publishers, recording artists and record companies use PRS, the British body that manages one collective deal to ensure that artists get paid every time their song is used. This includes radio and TV plays, use of a song in clubs, bars, shops and workplaces, as well as live performances. MCPS is the branch that will collect payment when an artist’s songs are copied.


Step 1 – Discuss Copyright


When you’ve got some tracks written and recorded, but before you approach PRS, you need to figure out who owns the copyright for the songs or recordings you want to register. According to UK law, the writer, or writers, if it was a collaborative effort, own the song rights. Recording rights are owned by whoever paid for the recording to take place. It is important to sit down with those people as well as any performers, producers, anyone else involved basically, to hash out who will own the copyright of the song and the recording. Make a note of what is agreed in writing and ensure everyone signs their approval.

Some things to bear in mind: in the UK, by law, copyright exists as soon as the work is created, there is no need to register for it. There are two kinds of copyright, one for the song and one for the recording. From the time the song is created, the copyright lasts for the lifetime of the creator, plus 70 years. In the case of a recording, the copyright will last for 70 years from the date that the track was laid down.

Step 2 – Register With PRS


With that dealt with, it’s time to begin the process with PRS. Take this step once you start performing your songs live, to ensure you begin earning straight away. £100 will get you membership to PRS and MCPS. If you are in a band or a collective, each member needs to join individually. All that is required is the completion of an online form, which should take around 15 minutes, and will ask for a form of ID. 

Details of every song you write and record need to be logged into the system, including what percentage share of the copyright you own. This is to ensure that PRS know how to split the royalties they receive on your behalf.

Step 3 – Manage your account


Once your songs are registered, every time they are performed, broadcast, streamed, downloaded, reproduced, played in public or used in film and TV, you will be paid royalties, which PRS will collect and pass on to you.

You can manage your account online, including checking your balance, amending your list of registered work and reporting your live performances by submitting track lists. Payments happen four times a year, in April, July, October and December.

Step 4 – Outsource the admin


Services such as Sentric Music will manage your PRS membership for you. For a cut of the royalties, Sentric will take the list of songs and copyright agreements you give them and register your music, not just in the UK but across 65 territories. With other benefits, such as an account manager and applications to have your music played on TV, adverts, movies and video games, this could be a good investment around the time that your music starts to reach a wider audience.
With your songs registered on PRS, you can begin making money from your music, at last, a chance to see a return on your creative output.

Learn more about claiming your royalties and how to make money from music at our Industry Takeover seminars. Find out more HERE.