Songwriting: How Much Money Can I Make?
According to Dan Kimpel’s article in Music Connection Magazine, “Songwriting, Where Did All The Money Go?”, the following amounts are the average payments songwriters are receiving for song use:
$45,500 : One song on a million-selling CD. This is based on the 9.1 cents per album sold mechanical license rate with a publisher taking 50%. If the songwriter self-published their music, then they would get the full $91,000 per million albums sold. This rate can further be reduced if the label or artist has negotiated a reduced mechanical rate. Standard reduced rate is 3/4 or 6.8 cents per album sold.
$15,000 – $60,000 : Feature film, one song, writers and publishers share sync fee’s. (Synchronization License - syncing music to moving images). This can vary greatly depending on the use of the song in the film. A song used for the end-credits or trailer would demand much higher fees than a song used in the background. This is all negotiated between the music supervisor and publisher (or songwriter if he/she has been able to make the film aware of his/her music). Well known songs can demand more where unknown songs will garner much less from a sync license. The exposer may be worth the low sync license though as people who see the movie hear the song. If a soundtrack is released, this will lead to mechanical rates generated from soundtrack album sales (see above).
$20,000 – $100,000 : Non-hit song, national commercial. Advertising agencies and music supervisors are looking for new music to use with commercials and sometimes prefer unknown songs and independent artists as they are less expensive.
$75,000 – $1,000,000 : Hit song, national commercial.
$60,000 – $70,000 : Unknown song, major film trailer.
$12,000 – $100,000 : Known song, major film trailer. “Negotiations will take into consideration whether or not the song that accompanies the visuals is a theatrical trailer for in theater use only, or a television or internet commercial.”
$300,000 + : Hit song, major film trailer.
$2,500 – $20,000 : Song used in video game.
$1,000 – $3,000 : Indie artist, network television show all-in (master + sync) fee. All-in meaning the TV show gets all options for use of the song without further payments. So if the show was later released in a different medium such as an internet channel, home video, or on-demand, the show would not have to pay more monies to the songwriters.
$800,000 : U.S. radio and television performance royalties, hit single. There are three performing rights societies that make sure the copyright owners of songs are paid performance royalties when those songs are performed in public. This includes radio, television, restaurants, nightclubs, dance halls, websites, and other venues and broadcasters. The three societies are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC and they receive payments from the music venues stated above for the right to perform the songs in their respective catalogs. The performance rights agencies use their specific systems to determine the amount of times songs are played throughout the different venues and send publishers / songwriters royalties checks based on amount of play. Published songwriters must choose which agency to register with based on the different pros and cons of each organization.
0.66 cents : iTunes takes .34 cents per download from the standard .99 cent fee charged (although the rate now varies between .66 / .99 / 1.29 cents per song due to new negotiations between Apple and the labels). If a song is attached to a label, the label will take .46 cents giving the songwriter .10 cents and the artist .10 cents per download. If two songwriters co-wrote the song then this is now .5 cents per download. It is also .5 cents per download if a publisher has 50% rights to the song. Of course, you don’t need a publisher to get your songs onto iTunes or in other music stores, you can pay TuneCore a small fee and then keep the .66 cents per download. Tunecore special offer below:
Again, the above numbers are just an idea of potential income that a great song can make when used through different venues. Amounts will definitely vary depending on the negotiating power between those looking for music and those providing music.
Disclaimer: This article was not written by a lawyer and the information is the opinion of the author only. This article is not intended as legal advice or counsel. The author does not make warranty or representation as to the accuracy of contained statements.