Broadcast & Satellite

TV & Radio Royalties: What You Need To Know

Successfully landing your music on TV or Radio is one of the most satisfying accomplishments a musician can achieve. Better yet, it means you’re probably getting paid as well. Here, we dive into how these royalties make their way into your pocket.

Guest post by Randi Zimmerman of the Symphonic Blog

There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing your song on the radio or on TV. As fulfilling as it is to see your hard work pay off, what’s even better are the royalties you’re racking up every time it plays! How does that money find its way to you? Let’s break it down.

What You Need To Know About TV & Radio Royalties

You earn performance royalties every time your music is performed or played publicly. TV and radio royalties fall under that category. As long as your songs are registered with a performing rights organization (PRO) such as ASCAPBMI, or SESAC, then you are eligible to collect performance royalties.

TV Royalties / Sync Placements

Any time your song is featured in a TV show, movie, commercial, or any visual media, that’s called a “sync placement”. In addition to performance royalties you earn for airing on TV, sync placements also pay an upfront “licensing fee”. This fee is determined based on the song’s market value as well as the various details of how the music was used in the production.

  • Your Master and Sync (Publishing) license will likely come in a one time, upfront payment.
  • The PRO’s will collect your performance income as per their pre-negotiated deals with the networks and remit those to you separately.
  • Additionally, in Europe and abroad you may be able to collect neighboring rights payments for the performance of your master recording. // This is dependent on distribution and scope of the film or show release and is dependent on airplay.

Music publishers collect royalties and licensing fees, seek out sync deals for TV and film, register copyrights, negotiate licenses, and so much more. Nowadays, many songwriters act as their own publishers. // Check out, “How To Become a Music Publisher” to learn how to do it yourself…

Radio Royalties

Radio royalties are a whole different story. Although they are also paid out through your PRO, it’s common that artists don’t even realize their song has been played on the radio until they actually check their royalty statements.

Why? // Collection societies and radio stations often work hand in hand using pre negotiated fees (called “blanket licenses”) based on the listeners and size of the station. However, this fee doesn’t go to you. It goes from the radio station to the collection societies in exchange for being able to use the catalogues they represent. Then, you get performance royalties through your PRO or collection society.

Neighboring Rights

If your master recordings are being publicly performed and broadcasted on the following media, you are earning neighboring rights royalties.

  • Pandora (or any internet radio platform)
  • BBC Radio
  • Sirius XM (or any satellite radio platform)
  • Cable TV music channels
  • Terrestrial radio outside of the USA
  • Businesses and retailers as background music (I.e. Restaurants, retailers, hotels, etc.)
  • Live in clubs / live performance venues

Neighboring rights royalties are collected by neighboring rights collection societies. In order to collect the neighboring rights royalties you are owed, registering your individual master recordings directly with each collection society in the territories you are getting radio play in is absolutely essential.

If you know your recordings are getting radio airplay, talk to your record label that released your EP/LP/album. See if the label is already collecting these royalties for you. Otherwise, see if they need to get on board so that you and your label can collect these royalties together. 

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Learn more…

Types of Publishing Deals and How They Work

5 Ways To Make More Money Off Your Songs

6 Common Questions To Ask An Entertainment Attorney

How to Optimize your Songwriting for Sync

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How Labels Can Collect These Royalties with the Click of a Button:

Symphonic’s Neighboring Rights Administration service helps our eligible distributed label partners collect their neighboring rights royalties.

How does it work? They give us their recording data. Then, we simultaneously export it to key neighboring rights collection societies around the world. Their recordings are registered, and royalties are collected. Easy as that. Want to learn more? // Here’s how to get started…

In Conclusion…

You don’t have to do it alone. As a Symphonic Distribution client, you have the opportunity to apply for representation by our in-house sync licensing division, Bodega Sync. Once accepted, your music is pitched to supervisors and advertising agencies, we negotiate licensing deals, complete all the paperwork, and make sure you get paid properly.

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