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Newbie Questions


One of our readers, Ev, came up with the suggestion to have a section devoted to newbie questions regarding music libraries, music licensing, copyright, music publishing etc. There a lot of experienced people on this site and many are happy to share their wisdom. So, if you are a newbie (or not), and have a question, try leaving it here.

Of course many questions have already been answered here. First try searching in the search bar in the upper right hand corner. Also Google is your friend! I have found one of the best ways to search a site is use site specific criteria at Google’s web site. In other words, to search for a specific keyword, say “contracts”, type it in at Google like this “contracts site:musiclibraryreport.com”. Do not use the quotes.

If you still can’t find your answer then leave a comment here and someone will most likely come to your rescue!

1,260 thoughts on “Newbie Questions”

  1. How many months after a cue’s first air date would you wait before contacting your PRO about a missing cue sheet?

    I thought I saw something like that on the site here, but can’t find it on the site.

    • Hi Greg,

      Cue sheets aren’t due until the last day of the quarter, following the quarter in which the program aired. For example, if you had a cue air on September 20, 2011, the cue sheet would not be due until December 31, 2011.

      So, in theory, you should wait until after the end of the quarter following the performance. Even then, it sometimes takes the PRO a little time to get it into the system, unless it was filed electronically.

      Check your PRO’s rules / procedure. As I recall, ASCAP gives you a fairly precise (limited) window of opportunity to file your claim.

      And…once you do file a claim, you will most likely wait another quarter to get paid.

      I filed a claim with ASCAP in March for programs that aired in the 3rd Q 2011, and won’t get paid until July.



      • Thanks for the reply Michael. Guess the best way to get cues sheets submitted is to post a question about it here.

        I logged into my ascap account and the missing sheet was there ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hi Johnnyboy,

    The answer to your question is …it depends. It depends on the circumstances regarding why and how you want to remove the work.

    I just switched my writer membership from ASCAP to BMI. I plan to move some of my tracks from my ASCAP publishing company to my BMI publishing company. From what I’ve been told, I am able to do this because I also publish other writers’ works. My understanding is that if I did not publish other writers’ works I would have to resign my publisher membership as well. All of my older works, published by other ASCAP publishers will remain with ASCAP.

    What is your goal in removing this particular track?



    • This was just a track I registered myself (no publisher). Since it was just signed with an exclusive publisher, it is no longer necessary. Just trying to get rid of any unnecessary clutter in my catalog. Not a big deal.

      Thanks for replying Michael.

      • Hi Johnnyboy,

        In that case you can just transfer the publishing from you to the new publisher, and that will eliminate the redundancy. Of course, if the new publisher retitled, you’re probably stuck with the clutter.



        • I have transferred publishing before and you just need a letter signed by both parties involved and ASCAP will do it.

  3. Wondering if anyone else has ever tried to delete a track from your ASCAP catalog? I tried this week. I was told by ASCAP’s title registration personnel that they won’t delete any tracks.

  4. axiomdreams, yes, you will get more money, but late and without details.

    You can talk with your accountant and figure out a way for you to pay lass tax in your country because of the US tax deduction.

    • Ok, man I wish there was a way to win from both ends or even find an in between solution, but I guess I’ve gotta choose 1.. Hmmm..
      I’ve gotta decide yeah.. & too bad TuneSat ain’t cheap, especially not with lots of production music..
      Thanks so much for these awesome infos mUSIC! U’ve opened my eyes some more..


  5. Hi, I’m not exactly a newbie but I need some info help please, I’ve got a question for BMI members.. When U get placements & royalty statements, does it reflect on Ur profile the details: TV station/channel, number of plays, length of usage etc..? APRA has none of that so I’m switching over to either ASCAP or BMI but it seems that for ASCAP I have to have a US address & job security number so I might have to go BMI instead..

    Thanks in advance,

    • Yes, BMI got this info.
      If you are getting most of your placements in the US, then BMI or ASCAP is a good choice.
      I love BMI, so

      • Thank U so much mUSIC! I’m definitely switching!
        It’s been crazy frustrating receiving royalties with just the track names & accept it as it is, without knowing how many times it’s been used, when & where.. & when I inquire they tell me that they know nothing abt overseas placements..
        Time for change indeed..
        I went to the BMI joining page & it looks easy to do, only thing is I think I need to get out of APRA first before joining BMI..
        Deeply appreciate Ur feedback!


        • No problem!

          In BMI, when you get royalties from another country, you don’t see that info either.

          Just, keep in mind that you will have to get ITIN, its a tax ID number, in order for the IRS not to take 30% of all royalties. In a case you will have an ITIN, they will maybe take only 10%, depends on your country tax relations with the US.

          • Great info Thanks.. good to know that & I’ve been procrastinating getting my ITIN done, seems so complicated but now’s a good reason to do it. Wondering also, if I stay with APRA, does that mean I won’t be tax deducted or they actually deduct 30% before passing the $ over to APRA to pay me, which brings me back to the same 30% deduction situation? So, no diff. $wise that is..

            • Ok, I just checked my royalties statement.. They only taxed 5% when I’m with APRA.. So, it’s probably what they might tax with an ITIN.. Thanks..


              • The 5% is not tax. Its their % for getting you the royalties from the rest of the world, like a commission.
                The 30% tax is a different thing.

                • Oh, that means if I stay with APRA, I get paid full but the setback is not getting the placement details.. but it does say Tax on my statement.. Hmmm

            • Lets organize things…
              If you are with BMI, you cant be with APRA at the same time, only one preforming right organization at a time.

              If you stay with APRA and your music is getting used in the US, then you will get the full amount from APRA.

              If you with BMI or ASCAP, then they will pay you for your music geting broadcasted in the US and the rest of the world, not APRA.

              • Yes, I understand that.. Looks like it’s best I get my ITIN done & move over to BMI yeah..


    • When you switch to a US based PRO like ASCAP or BMI it’s going to take a lot longer for you to get your NZ and Australian based royalties. International royalties take at least a year, if not two to come through. Just something to think about if your music mostly plays over there.
      The opposite is true if your music is mostly playing in the US – in that case you’d definitely want to switch ASAP.

  6. Hello, and another newbie question. Thanks in advance, this site has been incredibly helpful!

    I have both a writers and publishers account with ASCAP. When registering your own titles is it better to register them under your publisher or writer account? I know that ASCAP doesnt want you to do both. Does it make a difference? These are for titles that will most likely be going into non-exclusive, re-title libraries.

  7. I have a two part newbie question:

    should I register all of my tracks with ASCAP before submitting them to non-exclusive libraries? and is there any reason to give my tracks different titles for different libraries?


    • You want to make sure everything is registered properly that way when it comes to actually collecting on the back end, there is no additional delay. Typically ASCAP takes about couple weeks for the titles to show up on the search end. For example, I’ve recently read on the Crucial thread here, they are checking to see if the titles can be publicly found before they place anything for clearance.

      Typical reason is so that the library can collect on your portion of publishing end. Here are some threads on retitling that found to be helpful.

    • Depends. Some libraries will use their own title and some will prepend or append their own code to your existing title which they will register with a PRO. It’s in their best interest to register as that’s how they get paid.

      I’m not saying you shouldn’t register. I must admit I’m way to lax on my BMI registrations but the uses do get picked up off of the cue sheets and I do get paid even if I have not registered them.

      • Thanks, Art

        So, the libraries will register themselves with their own titles as they accept your tracks.
        Although a good idea to register your tracks yourself, any license that a library gets with one of your tracks will be registered ( and re-titled) by them.

        Do I have this right? I do plan on registering but initially I have alot of tracks to do and it would be pretty time consuming.

        Thanks for the help and the great site!

  8. Hello all, firstly, thanks to Art for this awesome site.
    My question, or rather dilemma:

    A library just accepted 11 tracks for which the original payment was 2750 dollars (250 per) plus writers share, but no cut of the license sales. The owner has just asked me if he could register them under his production company, rather than under my name with SOCAN. His rationale was that these days alot of clients want “completely royalty free” product and he’s trying to build up a stable of tracks that would be in that format. WHen I asked about writer’s share that was originally part of the agreement, he said he will pay an extra 50 dollars per track. so in total, 550 dollars more. He said that these days the writer’s share is so meager for most artists, that it would be a safer bet to take the money. What are your thoughts on this? Any experience with this sort of thing?

    Much appreciated

    • $50 in exchange for all the potential earnings from the writer’s share, which will continue to go to your great great grandchildren for 70 years after you’ve kicked the bucket, doesn’t sound like a particularly good deal to me!

    • There is a famous quote attributed to Hunter S. Thompson that goes something like this:

      “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

      IMHO Any deal that asks or suggests you sell or relinquish your writers share should be avoided.

    • I would take the money.

      I know that many will argue that you are being exploited and that you will no longer have the rights to your songs. But realistically, earning money through music licensing is rough.

      Your songs have the potential to be licensed and make thousands and thousands of dollars in royalties. They also have the potential to make nothing. I would sign the deal, collect my money and move on. You can always make more music.

    • There are times in this business when giving up a PORTION of your writer’s share MIGHT be ok, depending on the situation. Notice that I said a “portion.” NEVER give up 100% of your writers share.

    • Tell him, 150$ more for each track for 30%-50% of the writers share if you really need the money right now.

      • ^This option might be good too.

        DrumDigger, I think you should negotiate with him. If you cannot keep a portion of the writer’s share, then offer him only 3 songs with him keeping all of the rights. Even if the deal falls through, negotiating will be a good learning experience.

        I personally would sign over the songs and count my cash. But it may be a bit much for you at this point. Whatever you do, make sure you feel comfortable wirh it. No regrets.

    • If the writer’s share of royalties is so meager why is he prepared to buy it out at all?

      And how does having the tracks in his company’s name have any impact whatsoever on clients wanting “completely royalty free”?

      And if they want “completely royalty free” why bother registering with a PRO at all who is responsible for collecting and distributing royalties?

      Doesn’t add up.

    • Sounds like a con to me. I would never give up all my writer’s share. A portion, maybe for a Katy Perry record or some other hit artist. And yes, that is done all the time!

      • +1 Don’t give up your writer’s share. I don’t know of any legitimate publisher/library that would ask that of their writers. They may ask to share in your writer’s share but no way to give up 100%.

  9. Well, I think the question I’m gonna ask is for newbies; probably lots of you know the answer.

    One of the libraries I belong to, library A, was designated publisher of my songs by me. I designated them after I let them know I had become part of my country’s PRO. The PRO of my country allows only one contract with a foreign publisher. Library B has licensed a couple of my songs and it’s asking me if I want them to be my publisher. I wouldn’t like to change who collects publishing rights for now, but my questions are:

    Is it possible that library A collects publishing rights for the licensing sales that library B made?

    In the case this becomes impossible, can I fill cue sheets or do something to collect (or that library A) collects those publishing rights?

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