Stephen Wrench, President, Musik and Film Records, recently answered the prevailing question, ‘How does a DIY artist get paid for songwriting and airplay royalties?

I deal with a lot of artists who have spin reports and reports of airplay.  I am often asked, “Where are my airplay royalties?” The song was named “My Friend”. Now, there are probably 50,000 songs worldwide named “My Friend”; how is ANY collection society going to collect royalties on this?!? I then ask them if they sent in a properly coded MP3 with their registration. In most cases, they didn’t seem to understand what I meant by asking this.

There are 3 major songwriter collection associations in the U.S.; as well as a few other companies advertised on other sites. They all tout, “we collect world royalties”. One would think it would be easy to track airplay with ISRC numbers, bar codes, and digital tracking.


If you want to get paid for airplay royalties, then you need to code it properly. Here’s how if you’re in QuickTime: right click on the mp3, then  click Properties, and click on Details. From here you type in the correct registered title, album artist, album, year, and genre. When you get to publisher and composer, type in the registered writers names / publishers names and affiliation. Then, and only then, will they be able to track the release and collect your royalties.

I have numerous artists, including myself, who belong to US songwriters associations. Many of us have complained that we are not getting paid airplay royalties from the US societies that “claim” to collect airplay royalties worldwide. Proper coding may be one of the issues, here’s another possibility.

About 3 years ago I charted a top 40 hit in the UK and Europe. I waited and waited and waited for my airplay royalties. I eventually contacted my songwriter’s collection society, which I have been a member of for decades, and I was asked for the airplay information. So I provided them with spin and airplay reports; not once, not twice, but several times. Still anxiously awaiting my royalty check, I worked my way up the corporate ladder for answers as to why I was not getting paid.

I was finally verbally informed, by my collection society, that they only monitor 5% of Billboard reporting stations. I was also informed that they only monitor major releases, worldwide. I pressed on for more answers, “You mean I have provided you with spin and airplay reports and you will not collect my royalties”? I was told they would not actively seek to collect my royalties; but if they were to receive a check, it would be forwarded to me.

What kind of songwriter’s representation does the US have? How is it possible, in this digital age, to ONLY monitor a 5% sampling of Billboard reporting stations and NOTHING overseas? Extremely perplexed, I sought answers about world publishing collection societies and what societies ACTUALLY collected royalties for the average songwriter.

What I found, was that songwriters can collect their airplay royalties even if minuscule, but not with the US societies. With a US society, you will only get your royalties if you are with a major label and spun on billboard reporting stations. I recommend joining PRS, in the UK, they are serious about a writers royalties and not in bed with major labels.

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By: Stephen Wrench

Musik and Film Records, President