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Recording an Album? Here's what you need to know:

For an excellent overview of the basic recording process and how to prepare for it, check out this recording primer by local 820 board member Bill Brennan.

Once your album is recorded, there are a number of steps to take to ensure that you maximize your potential residual and royalty payments. To derive income from your recorded music you will need to take the following steps:

ISRC Codes - The ISRC is a unique international identifier for the songs (tracks) on your album and functions as a digital "fingerprint" for each track. ISRC codes are essential for tracking online sales and international use of your music. Unlike a Universal Product Code (UPC), the ISRC is tied to the track and not the carrier of the track (CD, cassette, etc). The ISRC is usually inserted onto the CD master during the CD mastering session, so it's important that you get your ISRC codes before you manufacturer your CDs.

Performing Rights Royalties (SOCAN) - performing rights royalties are paid when you perform a song or when your music is played on radio and television. To collect you must join SOCAN and register your songs and compositions. To ensure the radio plays of your songs are reported to SOCAN, you must first register your songs with Neilsen Broadcast Data Systems. To collect concert performance royalties from SOCAN you must file a notice of live performance and submit a list of the songs performed following the concert along with proof of performance (copy of contract or poster.)

Mechanical Rights Royalties (CMRRA) - these are paid when someone else records your original song, provided that you have joined Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency and registered your songs with that organization. A standard rate is charged for each recorded copy made, and payment is sent to you after it is collected by CMRRA as a license fee.

Important Note: If you are including any cover songs (i.e. songs by another songwriter that you are performing) on your album, you must obtain a license for the Mechanical Rights to those songs. To obtain the license, you must contact the CMRRA for Canadian Artists, or the Harry Fox Agency for artists in the USA. Usually, the license fee is only a few cents per album manufactured / digitally distributed. Not all artists are represented by CMRRA or the Harry Fox Agency; some artists require you to contact them, their management, or their legal counsel directly. The CMRRA or Harry Fox Agency will be able to assist you in contacting such rights holders, if necessary.

Neighbouring Rights Royalties - a relatively new royalty collected and distributed by Re:Sound is paid out to all those who assist in recording original music in Canada. It is free to join this system through the CFM, and you do not need to be an CFM member to participate.

Synchronization Rights Royalties - can be administered for you by CMRRA (if you assign these rights to them) or directly negotiated. These are payments or royalties made to a songwriter/composer for use of original music in film or television. Depending on who you are and whether the film or television is a major production, synchronization can be worth a lot and can include an up-front cash payment as well as residuals or a percentage based on the program's success or sales. But it is fundamentally up to you to set the price of your music and negotiate this with the producer.