How to Publish a Song - Tips for Getting An Audience for Your Song

Want to know how to publish a song? This series of articles will take you through the process of copyrighting your song and then finding a music publisher. Since it is essential that you copyright your song before putting it before the world, this article focuses quite a bit on getting your copyright.

How to Publish a Song

  • First, make sure your song is good enough. Perform it (or if you're not a singer, have someone else sing it) for your friends and family. Get their honest opinion. Do they like the song? If so, find out what they like about it. If not, rework it until a consensus of opinion tells you that you have it right. Make sure your song is honed and polished.
  • Create a manuscript of your song. You'll need this to obtain your copyright. The manuscript contains the lyrics and the melody (with each chord name written out). If you can't write music, find someone to do it for you. You cannot copyright a song idea, but you can copyright the sequence of notes and lyrics that comprise it.
  • Copyright your song. This is your insurance policy. Songs are stolen—sometimes by industry professionals. A copyright proves that you own the rights to the song and protects you should anyone try to claim it as their own. If you wrote a song ten years ago and were unaware of the importance of obtaining a copyright, get it now.
  • How to publish a song: first and foremost obtain a copyright. Copyright your song and it will be protected for the next 28 years. Since you can extend it for another 28 years once your copyright is almost up, make sure to assign it to your heirs as part of your estate. (Note: if there are multiple songwriters, you can list them on the same form.)
  • Once you have your U.S. copyright, be sure to follow the format when distributing your work: copyright symbol, year, songwriter's name. Or if you're not using the symbol, write out the word "Copyright." Examples: © 2013 Laura Ramirez or Copyright 2013 Laura Ramirez.
  • Now that your song has been copyrighted, you need to take the next step in publishing a song. Publishing is not the same as a copyright. Publishing a song involves selling and distributing it, collecting the money and taking care of the paperwork. The most important step you need to take is to learn how to promote your music online. So many new artists have garnered attention first online. So leap into the online world and take advantage of all it has to offer by building a web site that builds your audience, so that you can create a following, reach a worldwide audience and start making money from what you love, which will further support your efforts as a song writer. (In many ways, a music publisher performs the same function as a book publisher.) Although you can publish a song yourself, most music publishers have large staffs to take care of all these tasks. In exchange, they usually take half of the profits. Make sure to include your domain name on all promotional materials for your band. Put it on your CD covers. If you do a gig, mention your web site to the audience. Tell them this is where they can go to learn more about your band members and listen to and download your music.
  • Create a music video and post it to YouTube and Vimeo, then promote the video via social media, from your web site and by writing a press release. invite other people on YouTube to post video responses to your song. This can help your traffic to grow virally. Make sure to post your videos to your site.
  • Seek like kind. Find a music publisher who publishes your type of music. Go to the library to research (get help from the librarian at the reference desk) or look on the back of CD covers for the name of the music publishing company. Don't pick just any music publisher, find someone who believes in you and your music(because there is a better chance they will do all they can to promote your song) and who offers the kinds of services you'll need. Always, always, get a music attorney to review your contract before signing anything.

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