Radio airplay payments

Ok, I tried to ask this in another thread, but now I’ve lost it.

How much do you get paid for having your song played on the radio? Is it only the songwriter that gets perpetual royalties? I mean, just because you hire someone to play bass on a track, that doesn’t mean they’re in clover once it becomes the sleeper hit of the year, right?

And what’s the difference between songwriter royalties, and owning the publishing? If the Beatles don’t own the publishing to their catalog anymore, does that mean they’re getting paid nothing? That’s kind of hard to believe.

Depends… Ultimately chart positions are culled from various sources, from electronic detection by Broadcast Data Systems, to college charts in the College Music Journal, and everything in between.

The payment is then based upon these chart numbers, so it is at best a rough estimate that cannot be tracked simply by x amount of cents per play.

Depends… If the bass player manages to get a singwriting credit for his contribution, yes, he has a share of the publishing even if he is not a full-time band member. But needless to say, most session players do not get songwriting credits.

The songwriting royalties are paid to womever owns the publishing. This is not the mechanical royalties, which is the royalties that an artist gets for sales of product, mind you, but that’s not what you’re talking about anyway…

Not hard to believe since they got a rather huge lump sum to sell them. If you chart their publishing, it probably got sold for dirt cheap back when they were young and naive, when that contract ended they were smarter about it and got more money and retained more of it themselves, until finally, MJ offered a huge sum of money to control it from that point on.

This is why, after years where you would not hear any Beatles music used in commercials, that all of a sudden the past few years you hear tons of Fab Four tunes shilling TVs and fast food. The new owners are wanting to make that investmant back…

Once again, I stress to pich up the following book:
This Business of Music
by M. William Krasilovsky, Sidney Shemel

Yer pal,

What satan said.

But if you want a ballpark figure, last I read, it depended on the size of the market audience, and whether or not the song had fallen into a special ‘million plays’ category.

For most markets, 6 cents per play, or, 12 cents per play for the million category.
It’s really done by sampling, as Satan said, rather than an actual count.

But, if your song is getting, say, 6 plays per day, times 1000 stations, it’s definately gonna show on the stats, for you to collect your share of the pool.

Er . . . no, the songwriting royalties are paid to the writers. The publishing royalties are paid to the publishers. Every BMI Song Clearance form I have ever filled out (a few dozen) has separate spaces for the distribution of the songwriting and publishing royalties.

BMI uses a formula based on “200%” – 100% going to one or more songwriters, and 100% going to one or more publishers. It’s the publisher, though, who has control over licensing the rights to the song. So while McCartney does indeed collect his royalties whenever a Lennon-McCartney tune is played, he has no control over the use of the songs. (But he does over the use of the recordings, which is another story altogether.)

As an addendum, the people listed as songwriters are not always the actual writers of the song. On occasion, a group will buy a song outright and put their name on it (though this is probably rare). I knew someone years ago who made some nice money writing songs for other people and taking a lump sum for them. one of his songs was recorded by Spirit and another by Alvin Lee without his name being listed as songwriter. Pretty popular songs by those groups, too, but all the writer got was a one-time lump-sum payment.


From what I gathered (and this involved talking to someone in my office who deals with royalties - both publishing and mechanical - all day) the terms are pretty much identical.

The reason there are two places on the form is because of “Co-Publishing Deals,” which are fairly common.

In a co-publishing deal, the songwriter sells a portion of his rights, yet still retains their own publishing on the percentage they keep. The publisher then takes a percentage of the royalties, and they are administered by whatever company they use, whereas the company that administers the publishing for the artist remains the same.

For example - Artist sets up their own publishing through ASCAP. After signing a record deal, Phil The Athiest Tunes, Inc. approaches them about entering a co-publishing deal. Your company winds up buying a percentage of the publishing, and you have your cut administered by BMI.

At this point you have BMI figuring out your share and ASCAP figuring out the artists share. Not very uncommon from what I understand.

But ultimately, the two phrases are the same. Song writing royalties ARE publishing royalties… It’s just a metter of whom is cutting the check and whom is cashing it.

So I assume the typical band will have a separate agreement amongst themselves to split the profits on songs, otherwise the whole payment goes to the songwriter?

So someone like Charlie Watts of the Stones would not be eligible for a nickel of royalties from the Rolling Stones albums unless he had set up a specific deal with the writers of the songs?

There must be a bit more to it than that. What happens with cover tunes? If Run DMC records ‘Walk This Way’, how do they make money from it? How did Sinatra make any money, since he never wrote any of his songs? Did he have to cut a deal with the songwriters beforehand which would get him a percentage of the royalties in exchange for recording the tune?

Another thing I’m not clear about - who profits when ASCAP or BMI sell a block license, like when they sell the rights to replay broadcast music on a caller-on-hold system?

there seems to be a couple of misconceptions, being a songwriter, i will try to clear up as much as i understand it. i will use the beatle example b/c everyone is familiar with it.

paul wrote it and first recorded it. he gets royalties when it’s played via ascap/bmi. michael jackson has the publishing writes, which means no one can publish the sheet music/lyrics in any form unless he approves. paul can’t write the lyrics to hey jude in his concert program, which is why he’s so pissed. but he did get a lot of money for selling it in the first place. (actually i think in order to get around some record company red tape, he let them administer the rights and they sold it, but he got the money)

nobody can prevent anyone from playing the song. as long as the commercial establishment (bars/clubs) have paid a bmi/ascap liscense fee, they can play as much as they want in any form. nobody can stop you from recording it, however you will have to pay royalty. artist try and make deals b/c it’s usally cheaper that way, rather than let the original artist sue you for royaltys.
but if you record it, you can’t write (publish)the lyrics in your record.

it’s kind of twisted

He gets his portion of the money as a member of the Rolling Stones from the sale of the actual, physical albums. Those payments are a result of the contract between the Stones and their label, whoever it happens to be.

He does not, however, receive airplay royalties unless he is credited as a songwriter or has a portion of the publishing. Those are handled by ASCAP or BMI or SESAC, whichever.

In short, payment for use of the songs is an entirely different concern from payment for sale of the recordings. Since, I suspect, most Stones songs are credited to Jagger/Richards, no, Charlie gets none of that airplay money. But he gets his cut for every sale of a Stones record.

Capitol Records owns the copyright on the physical piece of vinyl containing, for example, the songs “Tumbling Dice” and “Happy,” and titled Exile on Main Street. But Jagger & Richards’ publishing co. (the name of which escapes me) owns the copyrights for the actual songs on the album. That’s why lyric sheets in album jackets also say “Printed with permission.”

Again, from the physical sale of records. But Joe Perry and Steve Tyler get paid when it is played on the radio.

I imagine he had a lucrative contract with Columbia for a better-than-average cut of his record sales, since people seem inclined to buy a lot of them.

Again, from the physical sale of records. But Joe Perry and Steve Tyler get paid when it is played on the radio

be careful with this statement. the record companies would have you believe this, but it’s not entirely true.

the record sales usually go back to the record company because they gave you the money to make the record, that’s how they recoup (not to mention it was their producer and equipment-rented to you at very high price) after that’s paid off, then you get what’s left over.

bands make their money touring, that’s why you see so many old groups bankrupt or broke or reforming for another tour.

good example, if i’m not mistaken, the goo goo dolls still owe the record company money for ‘a boy named goo’

  1. If your name’s not listed as the songwriter, you don’t get any of the airplay money. That’s one reason why the Doors gave songwriting credits to “the Doors,” so everyone got something when the song was played. (Later, when people started misidentifying the songwriter, they changed the songwriting credits to Morrison/Doors or Kreiger/Doors to make it clear.) Charlie Watts gets nothing out of this unless he’s listed as songwriter. OTOH, Lennon/McCartney is still divided between the two, even on songs like “Yesterday,” which was written solely by Paul.

  2. Money from the sales of the records is paid to the band, although the record companies have been known to mess with the accounting and claiming a particularly large cut.

  3. Money from live concerts and touring go to the band members (licensing fees for the live concerts are paid to the songwriters). It may go through some sort of management, though, which will take a cut.

Ok, so what if we have a band breakup? Who gets the money now? What if both broken halves re-form the band under the same name? (I think that’s going on right now with The Beach Boys - there are two bands out there called “The Beach Boys”, each having roughly half the original band members).

If it’s the band members on the original recording, then what about session artists? Does Billy Preston get proceeds from the sale of copies of the songs he played on?

I’m assuming this probably all handled by contract when the album is made, specifically stating who get what percentages of the sales, etc. Did Ringo Starr get royalties for the first Beatles album? As I recall, he was basically brought in as a session drummer because George Martin didn’t think Pete Best could play.

There must be complications for airplay as well. In commercials, for instance, you’ll often hear a popular song, but played by a session band (there’s a commercial that uses ‘Come Together’ right now, but played by someone else). Since they still have to pay the writer’s fee, why don’t they use the original recording? There must also be a fee component that goes to the artists themselves, so that if someone used Run DMC’s ‘Walk This Way’ in a commercial, some payment would go to both the writers and Run DMC?

Metroshane writes:

No, the record companies have absolutely nothing to do with the payments made by BMI to Tyler/Perry for their credits as the songwriters and publishers of “Walk This Way.” If Run-DMC’s version is played on the air, the songwriters get their payment, and the record label isn’t involved at all.

(Although I’m sure that at this point in their careers, accounting for most Aerosmith albums is in the black and the band gets their full cut.)


That, I suppose, depends on the record contract and who gets assigned the various moneys. Airplay money always (for all intents and purposes) goes to the songwriters and publishers. Record sales money is a contract matter. I would surmise, however, that none of the ersatz Beach Boys gets record sales money; that money probably goes from Capitol to a corporation that then pays the appropriate band members.

Not exactly. Ringo had already replaced Pete Best because George Martin didn’t like Pete Best’s playing at their Parlophone audition. However, he also didn’t think Ringo was quite up to snuff for the first single, “Love Me Do,” so he brought in session drummer Andy White. White was paid British Musician’s Union fees by Parlophone for his work on the single.

Ringo received his share of record sales as a Beatle, but he did not have a stake in Northern Songs Ltd., the Lennon-McCartney publishing concern. Or if he did, it’s because John and Paul sold/gave him some shares. (It turned out, when Paul was suing the rest of the band during their breakup, that Paul had been buying up shares behind John’s back. Needless to say, this made him slighty perturbed.)

Because the publisher only owns the copyright on the song; the record label (or the artist, in rare cases) owns the copyright on the recording. Michael Jackson has the right to assign the use of the Beatles’ song catalog (most of it), but he does not have the right to assign use of Beatles recordings. Only Capitol Records/Parlophone can do that.

Correct–the writers/publishers get their BMI/ASCAP fee, and Run-DMC’s record label (and, presumably, the band) get their fee for use of their recording.

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