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How to register your songs?

Published on | Updated on | 14 min reading time
How to register your songs?

Holding a degree in Business Administration and Programming, Pablo established Legis Music in 2016. With a focus on the royalty-free music industry, he has contributed extensively to the field, authoring over 150 articles on various aspects of music licensing. His efforts have been instrumental in developing one of the most straightforward and liberal music licensing frameworks available today.

Key points

  • Registering your songs in copyright is a fundamental step in protecting your rights as a songwriter or lyricist. It provides solid legal evidence of your authorship and the date the song was created.
  • It is important to understand the different types of licenses, such as synchronization, public performance and mechanical licenses, to effectively manage the use of your music and receive royalties.
  • Joining a copyright collecting society simplifies royalty collection and ensures that you receive fair compensation for the use of your music worldwide.
  • Active management of your copyrights is essential to track the use of your music, take legal action in case of infringement and ensure that you get paid for its use.

When you create a song, you are generating intellectual property, as well as copyrights.

To protect them, it is essential to register your own songs, because, not only do you ensure that you get the credit and rewards you deserve, but you also establish a solid foundation for managing your music career in the long run.

In this article, we will provide a complete guide for musicians and songwriters on how to register their songs and protect their copyrights in the field of intellectual property.

Intellectual property and copyrights

Intellectual property

Intellectual property is a set of rights that correspond to an author or authors, as well as to other owners (producers, publishers…) on the works created by them.

In the case of music, these rights are called copyrights.

In Spain, the Intellectual Property Law is the one that regulates this and copyrights (hence the usual confusion and interchangeable use of copyright and intellectual property).


Copyrights are those granted to the author or creator of a song to dispose of it fully, granting him the exclusive right to exploit his work without any limitations other than those established by law.

In the context of music, copyright applies to musical compositions, lyrics and sound recordings.

Songs are automatically protected by copyright once they are created and fixed in a tangible medium, such as sheet music or a recording.

However, registering your songs offers additional advantages, such as solid legal evidence in case of disputes and the ability to claim damages and royalties.

By registering your songs, you are establishing a legal framework that allows you to control who can use, reproduce or distribute your music and ultimately grants you exclusive rights to your work.

Understanding these fundamental concepts of copyright and intellectual property is crucial for anyone creating music, as it provides the basis for ensuring that your creations are properly protected and that you can take full advantage of their value.

Requirements for registering a song

In order to properly register your songs and have them protected, you must meet certain key requirements:

Originality and creation of the song

  • Originality: The song you wish to register must be an original creation. This means that it must be the result of your own creativity and not a copy of an existing work. Songs that contain original elements, such as unique lyrics, distinctive musical arrangements, or signature melodies, meet this requirement.
  • Fixation: Your song must be fixed in a tangible medium. This can be sheet music, a recording, written lyrics, or any other format that allows for reproduction or representation. Fixation is crucial, as it demonstrates that the song exists in a concrete way and is not just an idea in your mind.


  • Complete data: When registering your song, you will need to provide detailed information, such as the song title, the name of the composer or lyricist, and other relevant details. Make sure you have all the necessary data for the registration process.
  • Choice of rights: You must decide what rights you wish to register. This may include the copyright of the musical composition, the copyright of the lyrics of the song, or both. It is important to understand the different facets of your work and register the rights accordingly.

Proper registration of your songs is essential to protect your rights and ensure that you can benefit from your work in the music world.

Registration process

Once you have verified that you meet all the requirements, you must follow a series of steps.

These are:

  1. Gathering materials: Gather all materials related to your song, which may include the musical score, lyrics, recordings, and any documentation that supports your authorship.
  2. Access the copyright office: In many countries, you can register your songs with the copyright office in your jurisdiction. This is usually done online through a web portal or in person. In the case of Spain, this is their website.
  3. Filling out forms: Complete the registration forms by providing the required information, such as the song title, the names of the composers, lyricists, and other pertinent details.
  4. Payment of fees: In most cases, registration fees are required. Make sure you are aware of the fees applicable in your jurisdiction.
  5. Submission of materials: Supply music files, lyrics, or recordings as specified by the copyright office.
  6. Processing and confirmation: The copyright office will review your materials and process your application. Once your song is registered, you will receive an official confirmation.

Benefits of registering a song

As we said, registering your songs in copyright brings several benefits, among them:

  • Solid legal evidence: Registration provides clear evidence of your authorship and the date of creation of the song, which can be essential in case of legal disputes.
  • Exclusive rights: Gives you exclusive rights over the reproduction, distribution, adaptation and public performance of your music.
  • Ability to claim damages: In case of copyright infringement, registration allows you to claim damages and retroactive royalties.
  • Greater attractiveness to record labels and publishers: Registration can make your music more attractive to record labels and publishers, as it demonstrates that you are committed to protecting your rights.

Registration of songs with collecting societies

Copyright collecting societies are organizations charged with administering copyrights on behalf of composers, lyricists and music publishers.

These organizations play a crucial role in the collection and distribution of royalties for the use of music.

Some of the best known international collecting societies include BMI , ASCAP and SESAC in the United States, and SOCAN in Canada, among many others.

Advantages of membership

Membership in a collecting society offers numerous advantages for composers and lyricists:

  • Royalty collection: Management societies collect royalties for the use of your music on various platforms, including radio stations, streaming services, television, live concerts and more.
  • Royalty distribution: They manage the distribution of royalties to their members, ensuring that they receive compensation for the use of their compositions.
  • Monitoring and tracking: They use advanced technology to track and monitor the use of your music worldwide, ensuring that no potential royalty source is overlooked.
  • Negotiation of licensing agreements: Collecting societies negotiate licensing agreements with various companies and organizations, which simplifies the process of obtaining permission to use your music and ensures that you get paid for it.
  • International rights management support: If your music is used abroad, collecting societies can help collect royalties overseas through international agreements.

How to register with a management company

The process of registering with a management company generally involves the following steps:

  1. Choose a management company: research and select the management company that best suits your needs and geographic location.
  2. Apply for membership: Complete the membership application provided by the selected management society. This may require details about your musical works and your background as a composer or lyricist.
  3. Review and acceptance: The management society will review your application and, if you meet the requirements, they will accept you as a member.
  4. Repertoire submission: Provide a list of the songs you wish the collecting society to administer on your behalf. This will allow them to register your works and track their use.
  5. Begin membership: Once accepted, you will be affiliated with the collecting society and can begin to benefit from its services.

Membership in a collecting society is an essential part of managing your copyrights and collecting royalties for the use of your musical works.

International protection of songs

International conventions and agreements

International song protection is crucial for music creators to ensure that their works are protected and respected around the world.

To achieve this, there are several international conventions and agreements that facilitate the expansion of copyright globally.

Some of the most relevant agreements and treaties include:

Some of the most relevant agreements and treaties include:

  • Berne Convention : This treaty, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), sets international standards for copyright protection. It provides minimum copyright protection, which means that your works will be protected in other countries that are also party to the treaty.
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty : This treaty, also administered by WIPO, addresses copyright issues in the digital environment. It establishes rules and principles to protect online works and ensure that creators receive royalties for their use.
  • Bilateral agreements: Some countries have entered into bilateral agreements with others to ensure greater copyright protection. This may be especially relevant if your music is widely used in a particular country and you want to ensure that your rights are protected there.

International protection of your songs is essential if you plan to distribute your music worldwide or if your work is used abroad.

To extend the international protection of your songs, you can consider the following strategies:

  • International registration: You can register your works through organizations such as WIPO, which facilitate protection in multiple countries by offering a single registration process that recognizes authorship and copyright in numerous countries.
  • Legal advice: Consult with an intellectual property or copyright lawyer to understand how to protect your rights in different jurisdictions and ensure that you comply with country-specific regulations.
  • Verification of treaties and agreements: Research international treaties and agreements that are relevant to your music and make sure your rights are protected in the countries where you want your music to be used.

Understanding international conventions and agreements, as well as applying the appropriate strategies, will ensure that your copyrights are protected and that you can benefit from your music worldwide.

Licensing your own music involves managing copyrights and allowing third parties to use your work under certain specific terms and conditions.

Here are some steps you can take to license your own music:

  1. Register your copyrights: Before you start licensing your music, make sure it is properly registered with the copyright office in your country (as explained above).
  2. Define the licensing terms: Decide what rights you are willing to grant and under what conditions. This includes aspects such as the duration of the license, the geographical territory covered and specific restrictions on the use of the music.
  3. Create a license agreement: Draft a license agreement that details all the terms agreed upon between you and the party interested in using your music. This document should include information about royalties, attribution, restrictions and any other relevant details.
  4. Use music licensing platforms: There are several online platforms that facilitate the process of licensing music, both for independent artists and those working with record labels. These platforms can act as intermediaries and help you reach potential licensees. One of the best known is Artlist.
  5. Set rates and royalties: Decide how much you will charge for licensing your music. This may vary depending on the platform, the type of project and the visibility it can offer. Also determine how royalties will be calculated and distributed.
  6. Keep active tracking: Once your music is licensed, actively track the use of your music. Ensure that the terms of the agreement are met and that you receive the agreed royalties.

What types of licenses can I choose from?

Depending on the terms of use you want to set for users to be able to use your music, you can choose between:

  • Synchronization license: This type of license allows your music to be used in sync with visual images, such as movies, TV shows, commercials and video games. Synchronization licensing is common in the entertainment industry and can generate significant revenue for composers and lyricists.
  • Public performance license: This license allows your music to be played in public places, such as bars, restaurants, retail stores and stadiums. Management societies typically manage these licenses and collect royalties for you when your music is used in these venues.
  • Mechanical license: This license allows your music to be played and distributed in physical or digital formats, such as CD, vinyl, downloads and online streaming. Record labels and publishers usually handle these licenses on behalf of songwriters.

Negotiating and drafting agreements

Negotiating and drafting copyright agreements is critical to protecting your interests and receiving fair compensation for the use of your music.

Some important aspects to consider include:

  • Duration and territory: Specify how long rights are granted and in which territories they apply. This allows you to maintain greater control over your music over time and in different regions.
  • Royalties and fees: Define the royalties you will receive for the use of your music. Rates may vary depending on the type of license and the platform of use. It is important to make sure that royalties are fair and in line with market rates.
  • Restrictions and limitations: Set any restrictions or limitations on the use of your music. For example, you may determine that your music should not be used in certain contexts or for specific purposes, or that it should not be used in controversial content.
  • Credits and attribution: Stipulate how your music will be credited in productions where it is used. Make sure your name as composer or lyricist is clearly identified.
  • Dispute resolution: Include clauses describing how disputes related to the agreement will be resolved, such as mediation or arbitration.

It is essential that you understand the terminology and implications of copyright agreements before signing them.

Consulting with an intellectual property or copyright attorney can be critical to ensure that your interests are protected and that the agreements are tailored to your needs and goals as a music creator.

These agreements are critical to the management of your copyrights and the effective monetization of your music.

Practical recommendations for musicians and songwriters

Here are some key recommendations for musicians and songwriters who wish to effectively protect and manage their song copyrights:

  • Register your songs in a timely manner. Copyright your songs as soon as they are finalized and fixed in a tangible medium. This creates solid legal evidence of your authorship and date of creation.
  • Understand the types of licenses. Familiarize yourself with the different types of licenses, such as sync, public performance, and mechanical licenses. Understanding these categories will help you determine how you want your music to be used and what royalties you can expect.
  • Get legal advice. Consult with an intellectual property or copyright attorney to understand the specific laws in your jurisdiction and get advice on protecting your rights.
  • Keep detailed records. Keep a detailed record of all your compositions, including creation dates, versions, collaborators and details of licenses granted. This will help you effectively manage your rights and track any unauthorized use.
  • Participate in collecting societies. Join a copyright collecting society to manage and collect royalties for the use of your music worldwide. These organizations simplify the royalty collection process and ensure that you receive fair compensation.
  • Negotiate royalty agreements carefully. When signing agreements with record labels, publishers, licensing agencies or others, make sure the terms are fair and fit your goals as a songwriter or performer. Don’t hesitate to seek legal advice if necessary.
  • Set restrictions and limitations. If you want to control the use of your music in certain contexts or restrict its use in specific situations, be sure to clearly state these restrictions in your licensing agreements.
  • Maintain an online presence. Post your music on online platforms, such as Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud, and make sure they are properly labeled and registered with rights tracking services. This will make it easier to track and collect royalties.

By following these tips, you will be able to focus on your art and music career with the peace of mind knowing that your creations are properly protected and valued.


In summary, effective copyright management in music is a critical aspect for artists and composers seeking to safeguard and capitalize on their creations.

Within this process, proper registration of compositions plays a critical role in providing a solid legal basis that supports the authorship and date of creation of the work.

This initial step lays the foundation for continued copyright protection in an ever-evolving creative environment.

When entering the complex world of licensing, it is essential that musicians understand the different types, from synchronization licenses to mechanical and public performance licenses.

This knowledge not only allows them to decide how they want their music to be used, but also helps them to receive fair royalties for the use of their works in various platforms and contexts.

Membership in copyright collecting societies is another crucial aspect for musicians.

Organizations such as BMI, ASCAP or SESAC simplify royalty collection and ensure that creators receive adequate compensation for the use of their music worldwide.

By adopting these strategies, musicians and songwriters can not only defend their copyrights, but also thrive and excel in the contemporary music industry.


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