How do I go about getting music copy written, what are my options?
  • Greetings to MusicSacra Forum,

    I was wondering how to go about and getting my compositions copy written. I also have made quite a few Mass settings and am not sure of what the proper procedure is to getting these published, copy written, or approved. I am pretty ignorant when it comes to these matters.

    I was reading in another topic that someone got one of their Mass settings approved by an organization. What is up with this? Am I going to have to do this? If anyone has experience in getting their music published, copywritten, and approved, I sure would appreicate your responses.

    Any help or pointers would be quite appreciated. Thank you for taking the time out to answer this question.

    God Bless.
    Anathama Sit
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,771
    In this century works are copyrighted (I think that's what you meant) as soon as they are created, without any need for a formal notice or registration. If you think you'll need to enforce your rights you'll want some proof that you wrote it before someone else copied it. I hope someone else takes up your second question!
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,159
    The traditional method of giving evidence that you created a work by a certain date is to make a copy and mail it to yourself (or someone you trust) and LEAVE THE PARCEL UNOPENED (the date on the postmark and the unopened parcel are evidence of the existence of the work on or prior to the postmark date). Some people send the work by registered mail (return receipt), but in this day and age it is probably overkill. Pesonally, I don't bother with this anymore, because I publish just about everything online (for free use), and the online editions contain a copyright date and, generally, a note that the work may be freely copied, distributed, performed, or recorded - but then I'm old enough to know that I would never make any real money from my compositions, and besides nearly all of them are sacred music which I feel should be my own gift (some might say "curse") to the world.

    If you think you might wish to publish your work for profit but wish to circulate your work for others to see (or even use for limited purposes), you should put a personal copyright notice at the bottom of the first page ("Copyright © 2012 by ...") and include any restrictions for other use.
  • Greetings Richard Mix and CHGiffen,

    I thank you for both answering this question. I too had heard about mailing your work to yourself as well, but I wanted to see that this was legitmate and legal to do so.

    How do you go about publishing online? Just come up with an personal website?

    God Bless.
    Anathama Sit
  • It depends on what you mean by "publish". If you want to make money from the stuff, setting up an e-commerce website is probably overkill. I have secular things up at, but AFAIK nobody has ever bought anything. Lulu would be another possibility. NMS doesn't do any kind of IP control, So I try to price choral things such as to make up for some of what I'd make from the multiple copies I won't sell, and explicitly permit copying to the original buyer. Yet I also have to keep prices low enough to not be a big impediment to the curious. Performing rights societies don't collect from the liturgy (and rightly so), so mechanical royalties are about all you have. Of course, another strategy is to give the print copies away for free and hope to make your money from concert performances. If that's your strategy, or if you don't care at all about the money, there's CPDL, IMSLP, fora run by the major software players (Finale/Sibelius), etc... lots of places.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Jeffrey, could you please clarify a detail of your last comment? If I understand you correctly, ASCAP et al do not collect for liturgy? What about televised liturgy? Thanks.
  • Greetings Jeffrey Quick,

    Wow some of the things I have no idea of what you are talking about. I am just getting started and kind of feel ignorant in asking you this. I have no idea of what I am getting into in trying to publish or copy right or whatever I am needing to do with the compositions.

    What does NMS mean?
    Peforming rights societies what are they? Mechanical royalties what are these?

    I guess I kind of feel overwhealmed at this and feel like I am over my head in all of this. I would not be worrying about this if not urged by my friends and family to seek out this information.

    Thank you for taking out the time to answer these questions.

    God Bless.
    Anathama Sit
  • Kathy, I don't know the answer to your question. I went out to and couldn't find the info. If you're an author member of ASCAP (or not), you could call them. Or just submit the program and see if they pay (BMI won't take broadcast submissions; they want to pick them up via their own sampling methods)

    A.S.: NMS is the aforementioned NewMusicShelf. Mechanical royalties are what you get from a publisher when they sell your music (typically 10% of the sales price, though now with Net publishing it can be much more). Performing rights societies (ASCAP/BMI. SESAC in the US, PRS for music in the UK, SOCAN in Canada, etc.) collect money from concert promoters, radio, TV, etc on behalf of composers, if you join one. See
  • I think there's a new kid on the block, JQ, somethng like "TAXI"??? I recall seeing an advert for it in a songwriter's periodical.
  • TAXI isn't at all a PRO. It's an agent to get your stuff in front of the right people in the industry. And it doesn't look like non-industrial people need apply. BMI/ASCAP, OTOH, don't promote your music at all; they just collect for the performances you manage to create.

    I've always been BMI so I can't compare with ASCAP from a composer POV. I've worked with both as a promoter, and BMI is far more a pit bull (good for the composer, not so good for the promoter).
  • francis
    Posts: 10,695
    I do what CHGiffen does. Nothing. Just give it all away. If your music is really valuable, it will be very hard to steal, so you don't really have to worry about proving ownership beyond putting your JH on every copy. I have hard drives (multliple copies in different states) with dated files of my compositions. Everything that get's 'published' is on a drive somewhere. If any of my scores wound up in a major motion picture or something, only then would I probably seek recompense, and I have lots of files (paper and digital) to prove authorship. Goes to say, I am not banking on that ever happening.

    There is no money in publishing music, really, unless you are the likes of our friends-popular of OCP, and most of us on this forum aren't interested in composing trendy music for the 'masses'... just music for the good Masses. Even if it means waiting a couple of hundred years before it gets a hearing.

    At one time I had the interest of someone who was good friends with the top composers in the world who wanted me to publish with the subsidiaries of Warner-Bros (Lawson-Gould, Roger Wagner, etc), but before it happened, he died unexpectedly. Se la vie.

    I am personally self published but I don't require money. I just require your time, talent, artistry, dedication, spiritual integrity, depth of character, love of God and neighbor and a deep aspiration to beautify the liturgy at all costs. Anyone can pay that price if they really want to.
  • SkirpRSkirpR
    Posts: 854
    francis --

    Just an FYI, it is not at all difficult for even a minor-league hacker (i.e. most IT folks could do this) to change dates and times on computer files. I'm sure you could even find a freeware program to do it. Of course, the simplest way is to change your computer's clock and resave the file!
  • francis
    Posts: 10,695
    Yea, I know... the music is also dated (with copyright marks)... on paper. Thanks.
  • So greetings to all,

    So how would you recommend someone who is new to this stuff to get going? The mailing the music back to me and to anothe trusted friend sounds good.

    However is there need to belong to the BMI [wow I am throwing acournd acronymns I have no idea about, guess I gotta do a lot of research.]

    I have two things. I do compose music for Mass and things of that nature. But I also compose other music that is instrumental and dare I utter it in these esteemed halls - New Age Music. [like the Narada feel and things of that sort.] I am not sure what to do about the music pertaining to the Mass, I probably will put it in free domain, I still have not given much thought to it.

    However with the other music, I would like if possible to get compensation whatever I can for it.

    Sorry to be asking such basic questions, but I really feel out of my element here.


    God Bless.
    Anathama Sit
  • You don't HAVE to belong to a PRO. However, if you're getting performances for which you could be compensated, published, etc., it's a good business decision, and it costs you nothing besides the postage to send in your concert programs. For the guys here who are just writing liturgical music and giving it away for free, it probably wouldn't make sense. I've never gotten more than $1800 in a year from BMI, and that was the year my symphony was performed. However, it's essentially free money. PROs are the reason that Aaron Copland died being worth $20m. Of course, most of us don't write iconic Americana that gets used for beef commercials.

    I realize that most of the arguments for intellectual property are intellectually and morally bankrupt. I'd just rather be intellectually bankrupt than literally bankrupt.
  • I'd just rather be intellectually bankrupt than literally bankrupt.

    LOL, have a "wicc'ked" sense of humor! You da Man today!
  • PRO??
  • Page up. Performing rights organization/society. BMI/ASCAP.