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First Steps as an Independent Artist

Updated: May 25, 2023

Starting out as an independent artist


As an independent artist, it's important to properly register your music in order to make money and have your music tracked accurately. Here is a step-by-step guide on how and where to register your music:


  1. Copyright your music: The first step in registering your music is to copyright it. This will give you legal protection and control over your music. You can copyright your music through the United States Copyright Office by filing a Form SR (for sound recordings) or a Form PA (for musical works).

  2. Register with a performance rights organization (PRO): A PRO represents songwriters and publishers and collect royalties for public performances of their music. In the US you can register with organizations like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

  3. Register with a mechanical rights organization: Mechanical rights organizations, such as the Harry Fox Agency, handle the licensing and collection of royalties for the reproduction of your music on physical and digital formats.

  4. Register with a digital rights organization (DRO): DROs, such as SoundExchange, collect royalties for streaming and digital downloads of your music.

  5. Register your music with streaming platforms: In order to make money from streaming, you need to register your music with platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. This will ensure that you are paid for the streaming of your music. Platforms like TuneCore, CD Baby and DistroKid help with the registering and distribution of your new recorded music.

  6. Keep track of your music: Once your music is registered, it's important to keep track of where it's being played and where royalties are coming from. There are several services, such as Songtrust, that can help you track your music and collect royalties on your behalf.

  7. Keep your contact and bank information updated: Make sure to update your contact information and bank details with the organizations you have registered with, so that you can receive your royalties on time.


These are the most basic of steps any up and coming artist should follow. By following these steps, you can ensure that your music is properly registered and tracked, and that you are receiving the royalties you are entitled to as an independent artist.

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