What is music publishing administration, and why do I need it?

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What is CD Baby Pro?

Here is the short answer:

CD Baby Pro Publishing is a combination of global distribution of your sound recordings AND publishing royalty administration for the compositions on your album or single release — available to artists in dozens of countries and territories around the world.

What is Publishing Administration?

It’s the act of making sure compositions are collecting all of the royalties they are entitled to, plus accounting (and payment of those royalties) to the songwriter or publisher.


What is the difference between a Publisher and Publishing Administrator?

A publisher is the owner of a composition copyright. If there is no deal in place with an outside publisher, then the songwriter(s) is the publisher. A publishing administrator is empowered by the publisher to manage their copyrights and account for the income they earn. A publishing administrator does NOT own a part of the composition, but does this work in exchange for a small commission on the revenue collected.

I write my own songs and have distribution through CD Baby, isn’t that enough to get everything owed to me?

If your music is being sold, streamed or performed globally, distribution alone doesn’t get you all of the money your music is earning. Without adding a publishing collection strategy to the puzzle, you are probably leaving money on the table.

Adding that piece to the puzzle means registering your works globally with performing and mechanical rights societies. A Publishing Administrator plays the role of a kind of “distributor” to the global performing rights and mechanical societies to make sure your compositions are properly registered and collecting royalties wherever they are being performed or sold.

So, with CD Baby Pro Publishing we’ll actually “distribute” your music in two ways:

1. Your sound recordings will be distributed to stores and streaming platforms that pay you for sales.

2. Your compositions (which are attached to those sound recordings) will be registered with collection societies that pay you performance and mechanical royalties when your music is sold, streamed or performed publicly.

Just as sound recordings have their own global systems in place for making money, compositions earn income from a global and complex network of licensing agreements. These agreements exist primarily between global rights societies and live venues, retailers, broadcasters and digital platforms to make sure songwriters and publishers get paid for the sales, performances and reproductions of the compositions that are an inseparable part of all music sound recordings. Performing Rights Organizations like ASCAP and BMI cover a portion of this system but not all of it (see below).

If you had a traditional deal with a publisher, they would take responsibility for getting your works plugged into this system (as well as at least some ownership of your copyrights) but traditional publishing deals are very scarce for the average independent artist. Administration services like CD Baby Pro Publishing offer global publishing administration to anyone who wants it, on demand.

Does signing up for CD Baby Pro mean CD Baby owns my music?

No. As publishing administrator we take no ownership of your copyrights. We collect a 15% fee on anything we collect for you. The agreement is for 1 year after which you are free to renew, take over the administration yourself, or sign with another publisher.

It doesn’t seem like I have a lot of money out there. Why should I bother registering my publishing?

The answer boils down to a simple fact: Whatever is out there is YOUR money.

Your copyrights are your property. Your personal annuity that can earn money for you for the rest of your life. The continued growth of streaming in the coming years means your music is one click away from any fan, anywhere. Accessing an audience and taking the steps to make sure your music is plugged into every available source for earning money has never been more simple or affordable. If your music is earning money, you should have the means to collect it.

Sign up for publishing administration through CD Baby Pro Publishing today!

Any questions, let me know in the comments below.

Publishing Guide: Get Paid the Money You Are Owed

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • zach domer

    Great article, Rob!

  • landoflansdowne

    I had two songs on a 1980s Johnny Cash album which appeared again on John’s 2012 box set released by Sony entitled “The Complete Columbia Album Collection.” I am publisher and songwriter of both songs, and receive quarterly earnings from Sony for the occasional Johnny Cash ITunes download, however, I have never received a penny from John’s box set sales. I have more information regarding this matter, but, I would rather not share too much here.

    Forgive me, but I also don’t know if CD Baby Pro is really the company to go up against Sony. Sales were low, but still about 4 times larger than Sony is claiming. Soooo, how do the boys/girls at CD Baby Pro do in a David and Goliath fight? In case you are wondering – the person who use to handle my administration has retired and purchased a pedigree Alpaca ranch in Texas. I’m stranded…

  • thank for a great information and education

  • We routinely call users of the compositions in our publishing admin catalog, whether it be labels, digital platforms, or performing rights societies, attempting to reconcile outstanding money.

    As far as the David/Goliath thing goes, we are supported by the same publishing infrastructure as the catalog of John Lennon (and many other famous writers) and have a lot of reach as a result. So yes, we’ve got a pretty good slingshot.


  • angribov

    i’m from Germany. Can i apply to CDbaby pro?

  • This is good. ANY extra income stream , no matter how small right now, is great for musicians . And you never know how it will grow. Tim

  • Yes, and it’s good to be set up to capture royalties in the present, because if you start generating lots of publishing royalties, they’re difficult to collect retroactively. Better to be ready now.


  • Right now it’s only available for artists in the US, UK, and Canada. We’re hoping to have solutions beyond those countries soon.


    • Yamuna Jivana dasa

      If and when CDBaby administers royalties around the world, you will have much more leverage for your musicians including for those musos in the countries you currently administer, (US, UK and Canada). Plus, you will receive many more albums and singles upgrading to your Pro platform, that’s for sure.
      I’ve heard that you will be including more countries soon, for quite some time. 🙂 I understand there must be lots of red tape and administrative challenges, but if at all your artists can help by mass support voting or pressure in their respective countries, you could make this known to your large artist network on your service.
      I’m sure we’ll do what we have to in our respective countries to show support, giving CDBaby the pressure it needs to pass the red tape and bureaucracies.
      I’m currently registered with SAMRO (Southern Music Rights Organization) in South Africa, but frankly they are very disorganized in my opinion. Their support desk never returns E-mails or give feedback. So I could do with this admin aspect off my sholders and gladly pay CDBaby the admin fees under the Pro administration of all my works.
      I am at http://gaurarecords.com
      Kind regards,
      Yamuna Jivana

  • TruthTrumps

    I’m registered with ASCAP and CD Baby Pro. Am I missing anything as far as ensuring I’m receiving all of my royalties? The article mentioned ASCAP and BMI not covering everything. Thank you!

  • Eugene Ruffolo

    hey rob
    I have a sun publishing deal in Europe
    can I still use Cd pro ? and if so – are there any conflicts of interest?


  • Appreciate the clarity on those points. Looking forward to the same regarding a PRS. I was going to sign up with BMI recently, but was scared away by the requirement that I cannot use anyone else for a certain period of time. Since I did not understand that or its implications, I put it on hold. Can’t wait to learn more. Thanks.

  • Loose Freight

    Thanks for this info! A quick question/clarification. I’m signed up with Taxi, the indie A&R company, and through them I have had a number of tracks forwarded to music supervisors and labels. Will entering into the publishing agreement with CDBaby Pro in any way jeopridize the potential of those forwarded tracks being selected and used? I’m a novice at all this and am just unclear about what rights I’d be ceding in the publishing agreement. Thanks!

  • Jill Sissel

    Hi Rob, I’ve had a publishing company with ASCAP for 18 years I’ve registered all those songs(which I wrote/co wrote) with that society. My question is does CD baby pro blanket administration benefits to those songs already registered, or to only the new(er) released songs which I haven’t registered? And, is this service on a case by case basis? Thank you.

  • Mike Rekteen

    You listed 2 things CD Baby Pro does but the first is already accomplished by CD Baby itself – distributing the songs. So there is only one thing to discuss – if I already list my songs with BMI or ASCAP, what additional service does CD Baby Pro accomplish? For instance, do they list my songs with Harry Fox Agency, so I get a mechanical fee for someone covering my song?
    Thanks, Rekteen

  • Appreciate the clarity. Looking forward to the next article regarding a PRS I was going to sign up with BMI recently, but was wary of and did not understand the provision that I could not work with any similar agency while so engaged. Hard to know the best route that leaves the most options open while optimizing opportunity. This will be very helpful.

  • Cris Tortolano

    If a band has multiple songwriters and each songwriter has their own publisher entity – would each writer/publisher have to sign up individually for CD Baby Pro, or would all of their shares be covered if only one of them signed up?

  • Fiona Joy

    does that mean you would get 15% of our soundexchange royalties?

  • triskelion

    Does Pro follow an artist’s account from a solo to a member of a band? ie., I have a solo artist account, but my band is about to release an album which contains songs I have written. If I sign up for Pro as a solo will it connect with me on my band account?

  • Wyatt Alfred Davis Espalin

    What if I’m a member of BMI?

  • I am a member of PPL and PRS/MCPS. Neither organisation ever pays me anything. Each year PPL asks about my sales data: I inform them it is all downloads; they ask which countries they are downloaded to; I say I don’t know; they say they can’t pay out without this information, and that’s pretty much all that ever happens. Previously I told them about radio station plays of my CD following an album release, but the radio stations have to send in playlists, which apparently didn’t happen either. What happens with my agreements with these organisations if I go with CD Pro?

  • “The agreement is for 1 year after which you are free to renew.” Couple questions about this.

    1. Does that mean to renew you have to pay the CD Baby Pro fee once a year? Or is it only a one time fee when you’re singing it up?
    2. Is it set to auto-renew?

  • Ben Reel

    I am a member of imro the Irish Performing rights society who already collect my royalties worldwide, why would I sign up with cdbaby pro then, is there an extra benefit. Would cdbaby pro collect my royalties instead of imro?

  • Radmila Neal

    just want to make sure I read this correctly….does cdbaby pro have to be renewed annually?

  • Shamanka Phoenix

    I would like to have someone administering my publishing and controlling the collection of royalties in my name. I have recently joined PRS and now also MRCPS but I have had songs published as far back as 1999. I’ve never really tracked my songs and may have unclaimed money. Can these PRS and/or MRCPS find where I am owed money and back-claim? Although I am with these UK based collection agencies, I physically reside in Spain. Can you advise me please?

  • kid red

    do I have to form a publishing company or affiliate with a PRO to use cd baby pro?

  • What he means is that CD Baby Pro includes both our standard distribution services AND publishing administration. And yes, if you’re already registered with a PRO like ASCAP, then the additional benefit to CD Baby Pro is that we will collect all your mechanical royalties for you as well (not just performance royalties that your PRO is already collecting) — mechanicals from download sales outside the US and mechanicals from international streaming. That’d be for your own recordings AND other artists’ versions of your songs.


  • One songwriter is included with the CD Baby Pro fee, and you can add additional songwriters for $10. So essentially the album or single you’re distributing is what you’d sign up first, and all the corresponding songwriters can then be signed up along with it. Hopefully that makes sense. If you have questions, give us a call and we can explain in more detail.


  • No. SoundExchange does not collect publishing royalties. They collect a digital performance royalty for non-interactive streaming that goes to the artist, players, and label (as opposed to songwriter/publisher). So you’d still collect those directly from SoundExchange. One exception to this: if an artist hasn’t registered with SoundExchange directly, and they have unclaimed royalties waiting there, we’re working with SoundExchange to get those paid out to artists (in which case we’d take a small fee). BUT… if an artist has registered with SoundExchange directly, it never even needs to get to that step because they’ll be collecting those royalties directly. We’re just the last-minute solution to make sure any unclaimed royalties don’t disappear (which happens after a few years).


  • Nope. That’s part of what we handle for you. We’ll affiliate you with a PRO and collect the publisher’s share of your publishing royalties for you!


  • That’s great. You don’t need to change anything about your PRO affiliation. There’s still a benefit to working with CD Baby Pro, even if you’re already working with BMI, and it’s this: mechanical royalties! PROs such as BMI and ASCAP don’t collect mechanicals (for global streaming and for downloads outside the US).


    • VinsonValega


      What you’re not revealing to musicians is that CD Baby Pro collects BMI mechanical royalties from ALL sources, including from the U.S., and then you guys take your 15% cut of those, too. You don’t separate out National from International. Hence, unless the increased revenue from international mechanical royalties offset the 15% we (who already have BMI membership) give up to you guys in this arrangement, it doesn’t make sense to sign up for it. You guys really have to be completely honest and forthcoming with this fact.

      This is why I haven’t signed up with you guys for CD Baby Pro.

      The following is an email I received last year about this arrangement from David in your office:

      “We do collect the publisher’s share of your performance royalties with CD Baby Pro. The idea is that the increased revenue from international performance royalties, international mechanicals, US mechanicals, and digital mechanicals, along with the convenience of putting it all together, is well worth 15%. If that will work for you, great! Just let us know how we can help. If not, we understand and wish you luck.”

      CD Baby

  • If you sign both albums up in the same account, the info about your PRO-affiliation and such should be available for both releases. But if you want to keep the albums in separate accounts, you might have to do some duplicate work. I would recommend calling us at 1-800-Buy-My-CD to see if there’s something we can do to transfer the info over. (No promises, but it’s worth a shot).


  • Hi Yamuna,

    Thanks so much for the words of support. I’ll forward your message to Rob Filomena, our Director of Music Publishing. Hopefully we’ll find an international solution soon.


  • If we sign with CDBaby to administer our publishing, do they promote the music as well?

  • Rob, I do have a Publishing Co., Vox Tigris Publishing, yet Harry Fox tells me as an Indie label not affiliated with a major label, there’s no one to guarantee collection on my behalf. So I signed up two of my albums for CDbaby Pro, my 2nd French one (Nos Mots) and my latest release (Illumination). Yet I’m not sure I’m receiving mechanical royalties due me for the French songs, which I’ve been notified several times by HFA have been used by other publishers. How do we rectify this? Thanks!

  • If you’re registered with ASCAP and CD Baby Pro, you’re set up to get all your publishing royalties (performance royalties through ASCAP and mechanical royalties through CD Baby Pro), but you should also register with SoundExchange to make sure you’re collecting digital performance royalties for non-interactive streaming (note: this is NOT a publishing royalty, so it’s outside the scope of what PROs like ASCAP and publishing rights administrators like CD Baby Pro do).


  • Hi Ben,

    Unfortunately, CD Baby Pro is not available in Ireland yet (only Northern Ireland through PRS), but we’re hoping to have something set up there soon. When it IS an option for you, though, the benefit is that we’d help you collect ALL your publishing royalties. Performing rights societies don’t collect all your publishing royalties. They only collect performance royalties. So CD Baby Pro would be able to help you collect mechanical royalties globally.


  • Nope. It renews automatically. But after the first year it starts renewing in 3 month blocks, so you’d only have to wait one quarter at the most if you wanted to cancel at some point.


  • Regarding PPL: unfortunately, CD Baby Pro won’t be able to help, as PPL collects neighboring rights for sound recordings (which is not a publishing-related royalty).

    As for PRS and MCPS, nothing will change about your agreements. We will register your songs with all other global societies and account for all of your earnings. Since we’re also the distributor of the compositions we represent as administrator, it is easy for us to share sales data that we receive directly from the stores to help reconcile.


  • If you’re a member, PRS and MCPS will get you whatever they’re able to get you from as far back as possible — usually 3 years (but it’s possible they can go farther back). Their foreign reciprocal agreements may also help you get older foreign royalties too. If you join with a publishing administrator who will register your songs directly in foreign territories, you’ll improve your chances of getting foreign royalties retroactively.


    • Shamanka Phoenix

      Thanks for your reply Christopher. I’ll contact both PRS and MCPS and see if they can help me claim anything that is owing to me even though I suspect it is tiny amounts but at least this way I can feel in control.

  • Ben Reel

    thanks Chris

  • Hi TeraBrite,

    1. There is no renewal fee. There’s just that one-time upfront setup fee.
    2. Yes, it is set to auto-renew. However, after the first year it auto-renews in 3 month intervals, so if you decide you want to cancel at some point, you don’t have to wait another full year.


  • Promotion is not a part of our publishing rights administration service, but CD Baby Pro does come with all the other tools and services offered as part of CD Baby’s standard distribution package (Music Player, Facebook MusicStore, sync licensing, YouTube monetization, etc.) — and those things can certainly aid you in your promotion efforts.


  • Hi JS, we would administer the publishing rights for the songs you sign up for CD Baby Pro (on an album or single). So we wouldn’t admin your back catalog unless you’ve signed those titles up for CD Baby Pro as well.


    • Dezparado MGD™

      Hi Chris, Do You Know When Cd Baby Receives iTunes Payments

  • Nathan Lienard

    So I just signed up my EP, “Story Worth Being Told” for CDBaby Pro 5 minutes ago. What do I do now? Do I need to follow up with anyone or do anything? I mean, besides sit back and wait for the millions to roll in 😉

  • Knight Of Tru

    Hi Christopher,
    I have a 28 track album plus 6 singles all distributed through CD Baby at present, as well as more tracks and albums due in future. How many CD baby one time fees would I need to pay in order to have CD Baby pro administer and collect all publishing royalties for ALL my tracks, which are all written by 1 songwriter, myself ?

  • “The agreement is for 1 year after which you are free to… or sign with another publisher.” Shouldn’t that read, “…sign with another publishing administrator”? Because earlier, “A publisher is the owner of a composition copyright.” I’m trying to land a publishing deal with a publishing company, who could hopefully license my songs in film/tv/games. Does this mean if I singed up with CD BabyPro that I couldn’t sign with an outside publisher during that first year??

  • I think Danielle got back to you on Twitter already (just seeing this on the blog now), but we get monthly reports from them. They may be delayed a few days from iTunes, perhaps, if you’re not seeing something you expect already.


  • I’ve been away from this blog over the weekend, so you’ve probably gotten an email from us already with additional steps or updates on your album status. True? If not, give us a call or write cdbaby@cdbaby.com.


    • nathan

      Thank you for responding. I received an email stating that my EP would be reviewed and I would receive a second email. I have not receive the second email yet. I was going to give it another day or two and then follow up.

  • Ok. Sounds good. Though if you’re ever concerned about anything, feel free to call us: 1-800-Buy-My-CD.


  • No. We simply collect the royalties your music is generating. Even with our sync licensing program, it’s non-exclusive in terms of agencies placing music, so you’re free to continue using TAXI and other groups to find sync placements. The only exclusive portion of our sync agreement is about micro-sync licensing / YouTube Monetization (because we don’t want YouTube getting confused about who should be paid for the usage of a certain track).


  • Well, you’d just need to pay the CD Baby Pro-upgrade fee for one album and 6 singles (unless those singles ALSO appear on the album, in which case you could just upgrade the album and be covered for those compositions). Future albums and singles could be signed up as CD Baby Pro titles from the start.

    You can upgrade your existing titles to CD Baby Pro at any time for $29 a single or $49 an album.


    • Knight Of Tru

      I think what would be a far more attractive offer would be for CD Baby to administer and collect publishing royalties on ALL of an artist’s work, past and present for just One, one time fee. At present, you are saying that I would have to pay for 7 different CD Baby Pro one time fees, to cover all my work as well as paying for a new extra one time fee for any and all future releases. That is an unattractive madness. which I can not either enter into or keep paying for every future release. A one time fee for administering an artists publishing royalties, should be a one time fee for administering an artists publishing royalties, regardless of how many tracks are in their catalogue, since CD baby would be earning their percentage on all of the collected rotalties anyway. Perhaps an increasing percentage could be an option, the more tracks are being administered.. but still with only ONE, one time fee.. otherwise it should not be called a one time fee. 😉 I’d say you would get far more artists to join CD Baby Pro too. 🙂

  • Newbie here. Two questions:
    (1) I’m releasing my first single this
    summer and it is in Spanish (salsa). My goal is to reach audiences
    throughout Latin America and Caribbean as well as here in the U.S. I’ve
    read in other comments by CD Baby which state that although they have
    global reach, it is limited at this time in some areas (especially
    regarding mechanical royalties). Is Latin America and the Caribbean one
    of those areas? Trouble areas in that market?
    (2) Other than
    registering with ASCAP, CD Baby, and SoundExchange, who else do I need
    to register with given my market (U.S., Latin America, Caribbean)?
    Thank you and great article…very helpful.

  • No P.R.O. will let you use another one while you are a member, so BMI is not unique in at least that regard. Regarding the time and term of membership, BMI only allows you to leave during a specific window of time after a certain amount of time has passed. If you are concerned about the constraint of having to give notice of termination within a certain window, I would recommend you join ASCAP which has no such requirement. To be frank though, leaving one’s PRO is not common or recommended unless you’ve had a particularly bad experience or unusual set of circumstances. It’s best in almost all situations to stick with the one you choose to begin with, as moving registrations that are already earning royalties can disrupt payment and add very, very little value (since they are all so similar).


  • Unfortunately, CD Baby Pro is not set up to divide territorial rights and requires a worldwide exclusive during the term of the agreement.


  • There’s no burden on you to report sales or streams to your PRO. If performances occurred digitally for songs you have registered with ASCAP, they should pick them up and credit your account automatically.

    However, mechanicals from sales and streaming are reported by the stores/DSPs and captured and accounted for by the mechanical societies. (Which is where CD Baby Pro comes in, to help you collect all these publishing royalties that are difficult to impossible for indie artists to collect on their own).

    Having sales and performance data can be useful of course. If you see a discrepancy between the actual activity and what your PRO has collected, having this data can give you cause to contact the collection society and get it reconciled.

    This is something a publishing administrator will take care of for you, and CD Baby has all of your sales data directly from the source (since we’re also the distributor of the music) to make this easy for us to do on a member’s behalf.


  • You should email the publishing ops team at publishing@cdbaby.com and we can look into it for you. We are affiliated with HFA and should be able to collect all of your mechanicals for you if mechanical licenses have been filed for covers of your material.


    • Will do, and thanks for getting back to me!

  • Hi there,

    Here’s some info that is hopefully helpful to you:

    1. CD Baby Pro collections are not limited in Latin America. We are limited to signing up writers from certain territories only, but not in our collections — which cover over 90 countries, including all in Latin America.

    2. We will take care of registering you locally on the publishing side, so you will be all set. ASCAP and CD Baby Pro are enough in terms of collecting worldwide publishing royalties.

    Soundexchange will attempt to get you neighboring rights for digital performances in these regions, to the extent they are reported. Those are non-publishing royalties that are paid to aritsts, players, and labels for the non-interactive streaming of songs. Also, if you want to make sure you’re covered in all areas, you should consider opting into our sync licensing/YouTube program. It’s included with both our Standard and Pro distribution packages, and with those programs, plus CD Baby Pro, ASCAP, and SoundExchange, you’re pretty much plugged into all the revenue sources.


  • The term is 1 year after which you are free to sign with another publisher or publishing administrator. During the 1st year, we will have exclusive administration rights which you, as the publisher, have the ability to grant.

    If you’re looking to sign a traditional publishing deal, this will involve assigning part of your copyright to them in exchange for something (an advance, I hope) in which case you will no longer have the ability to grant exclusive administration rights (and the new publisher will likely want to administer the publishing themselves as part of their deal). To do this, you would have to be out of our exclusive admin deal.


    It really sounds like you want to sign up with a “synch shop” (sync licensing agency who will place your songs for you), in which case you are completely free to do so as we do not take synch rights as part of our administration deal. You can do anything you want with synch and collect 100% of the upfront fees yourself, though any performance royalties generated by placements would still be administered by us.

    Our deal gives you creative control over placements, and you can even do so exclusively without conflict (as long as you’re not ALSO opted into our sync licensing program).

    A couple of additional thoughts/exceptions on this:

    * If you are considering signing with a retitling library, you are free to do this completely on your own (exclusively or non-exclusively with the library) without us being involved at all, even on the performance royalties, as they will be assigned to a song title we do not administer, and you can share them with the retitling company with no problems.
    * If the synch shop is asking for a piece of the copyright of your originally titled songs or masters in exchange for just pitching your songs to TV and film supervisors (with no advance), then I’d advise you to walk away from that and look elsewhere. Those are terrible deals that artists should never consider (again, unless there’s a sizable advance).

    Does that answer your questions? If not, give us a call at 1-800-Buy-My-CD and we can go over some of the details.


    • Thanks Chris, yes it does answer my questions. But it also opened up some more questions haha…I’ll give you all a call! Thanks again.

  • OK. Sounds good.


  • A few corrections:

    * BMI has nothing to do with mechanical royalties. They don’t collect them or distribute them. BMI is a performing rights organization that only collects performance royalties. You should absolutely affiliate yourself with a P.R.O. such as BMI, but you will only collect performance royalties from them.

    * Mechanical royalties for download sales in the US are paid through to the owner of the sound recording via the aggregator or label. It is then the recipient’s responsibility to distribute those mechanical royalties to the songwriter/publisher. In other words, if you’re working with CD Baby for distribution, any time someone downloads one of your tracks on iTunes USA, you’d receive the mechanical as a royalty that is wrapped up in the payment for the download. Then you have to pay the songwriter/publisher (or, if you’re the songwriter, just keep it). Almost everywhere else in the world, the mechanical for download sales is paid by the retailer to a collection society who holds those funds until your publisher or publishing administrator comes to claim it.

    * Mechanicals for streams (both international and in the US) work differently from US download sales. Mechanicals for streams are paid by the streaming services to collection agencies such as Harry Fox. Again, you’d need a publisher or publishing rights administrator to claim those.

    Mechanical royalties are nearly inaccessible to indie artists without the help of a publishing administrator. This is the biggest benefit of CD Baby Pro. We’ll collect them for you.


  • Jason Boyd

    Hi. I’m a bit confused. I have an album signed up to cdbaby pro, I have also used some of the tracks for lice sing deals through hitlicense. Is this OK??

    • Absolutely. With Pro, you’re set up to collect publishing royalties. With your licensing deal, you’re set up to generate them!


      • Jason Boyd

        Thanks Chris. The thing is, hitlicense collect the monies themselves?? They then pay me through PayPal..

      • Jason Boyd

        Hi. Thanks. The thing is hitlicense operate as a complete facilitator on that they collect and forward the money for the licensing deals. I may also be signing some over to a production house in London soon. Will this create a conflict? My main reason for doing cdbaby pro was to collect radio royalties…

  • muchness

    My biggest concern is lack of control of WHERE and HOW my music is used. Would I want my music in a scene where a woman is being beaten? No. Would I want it to support certain political candidates? No. I understand in a huge blanket like this, there is no way to effectively contact each writer/publisher regarding each use – but to me, that’s important! Other than that (and that admin used to only take 10%, heh), probably very convenient! 🙂

  • Randy Brooks

    One song on my CD is already assigned to an administrator. Is it possible to assign just selected songs to CD Baby Pro?

  • Kirk Olsen

    I have a CD, “Dog Songs”, which has performed moderately well. Would going “Pro” raise my profile. I submitted my CD to Pandora and I was rejected, though I am almost everywhere else. Would going “Pro” give me some “street cred” that might change their minds?

  • Raph

    I’m Belgian. It seems that it’s impossible to sign up with Cd Baby Pro !!!

  • Gerry Lane

    Hey Chris, just a quick question…I have been with CD Baby for quiet a few years now but, I only recently became affiliated with PRS foe Music (Performing Rights Society) in London. My question is; how do I become a CD Baby Pro member?. Thank you in advance Chris.

  • lacylux

    I am currently signed up with Songtrust. Most of our catalogue is distributed through CD Baby. What is the incentive to switch from SongTrust to CDBaby Pro?

  • We released an album through CD Baby early this year, but my husband has an extensive back-catalogue of material spanning 5 decades – am I right that to register all this material for the CD Baby publishing administration he would have to pay fees that would far exceed any royalties that could be recouped?

  • If I have my own publishing company and am already signed up with BMI, should close my BMI contract to start useing CD Baby Pro, or is it fine to leave it open and have 2 organizations collecting on my behalf??

  • muttonkennedy

    Hi, I know Ive asked this before…but are there any plans to bring Pro to Australia in the near or medium term future?

  • Andrew Palmer

    I’m affiliated with ASCAP… I’ve had my music being used on several television shows, and initially in the past I had money I couldn’t figure out how to collect until I go a message from a “copyright administrator” who said for 15% of my publishing and writers he would do it… so I gave him the go ahead. I then started getting some nice checks, but eventually felt that once the money was rolling he was no longer needed so I opted out of his help because I couldn’t see that he was actually doing anything. Is this something that I still need… and does CD Baby Pro do that?

  • Charlie Koci

    Hello. I have two questions. All of the songs on my band’s upcoming album were written by myself and my writing partner. I plan to join CD Baby Pro when we’re ready to release it. Is it necessary for both of us to join separately, or is there an option for both of us to be on the same membership? Also, should we form a publishing company if we’re writing and recording the album ourselves, and then releasing it through CD Baby? Thanks, and have a great day!

  • You do not need to form your own publishing company. That is part of what CD Baby Pro will handle for you, the collection of the publisher’s portion of your publishing royalties. Also, you can both join as part of the same signup process. One of you would be the “primary” person on the account, and then you can add the second songwriter for an additional $10.


    • Fuzzy Island

      Hey Chris. I’m still unclear on the answer you’ve given Charlie. I too have a publishing company with BMI (and have for years); and I’m regularly seeing royalties for Streams/Plays for all the various music services that CD Baby provides to, as well as actual sales via Amazon/iTunes, *from within* my CD Baby dashboard. So I’m just really confused. I’m just really trying to understand what’s missing, if mechanicals (as it pertains to various streaming services) are already being collected… (and note, these previous CD Baby releases were before ‘Pro’, but again, they were already assigned to my publishing co.) Do I need CD Baby Pro? Thank you for any clarification you can provide.

      • Publishing gets a little complicated, for sure. So let’s see if we can simplify:

        1) the payments you’ve been seeing all along in your CD Baby members account are for the download or streaming of your music. That’s sales revenue (in the case of downloads) and the license fee for each stream, paid by the streaming/download service to you, the owner of the sound recording (via CD Baby).

        2) However, if you are the writer of the material you’re distributing, you are ALSO owed additional publishing royalties (mechanical royalties, which performing rights organizations like BMI and ASCAP do NOT collect) for downloads outside of the US, and for all interactive streaming activity worldwide. These are royalties that only your publishing company or a publishing rights administrator can collect for you. In other words, publishing rights aren’t paid to your distributor because it doesn’t have to do with the sound recording, but rather the underlying composition.

        3) That’s why we started CD Baby Pro, because we want our artists who write original material to be able to collect all that publishing revenue that was just sitting there unclaimed. So… CD Baby is your distributor. CD Baby Pro would include distribution, but we’d also act as your publishing administrator.

        Hope that helps. If you have more questions, feel free to give us a call: 1-800-Buy-My-CD.


  • We’d love to, and we’re working to expand CD Baby Pro into new regions, but I don’t have any timeline for it yet.


  • BMI and CD Baby Pro are different (though related) services — so the short answer is: you can continue to use both. BMI is a performing right organization that only collects performance royalties. CD Baby Pro is a publishing rights administrator, and we help you collect performance and mechanical royalties (and we partner with BMI to help out with the performance royalties side of things — though we also directly register your songs with collection societies around the world).


  • Hi Helen,

    It all depends on the catalog. Are people downloading his songs in territories outside the US? Are the songs seeing much streaming activity (both in the US and worldwide?) If the answer is yes, then CD Baby Pro can help you collect publishing royalties that would be very very difficult (or impossible, in most cases) to claim on your own. If not, well,… you could always sign up his most popular one or two titles for Pro and see what the return is after the first year (to gauge whether it’s worth signing up the whole catalog). However, one benefit to professionalizing your publishing rights upfront is that you know you’re set up in case anything starts taking off. Like, if one of your husband’s older songs suddenly gets licensed for a TV show or film or something, and suddenly there’s a flurry of download and streaming activity —— you don’t want to miss the bump and sign up for Pro after the fact (because in many cases you can’t retroactively collect publishing royalties).


  • Hi Gerry,

    You can upgrade your existing titles on CD Baby to CD Baby Pro within your members account. Also, we’re affiliated with PRS now, so as long as you have your PRS info handy, you’ll be able to quickly go through the upgrade process. If you get stuck anywhere along the way, write to cdbaby@cdbaby.com or call us at 1-800-Buy-My-CD.


    • Gerry Lane

      Thank you Chris for the info….I will give that a shot!!!

  • We’re hoping to offer publishing administration in more countries soon.


  • So, you opted out of his publishing admin service, and then did the checks stop coming in? That’s the primary benefit of publishing administration — royalty collection. And it’s almost impossible to do on your own because you’d need to spend all your time filling out paperwork and registering songs directly in over 40 international territories (and learning all those languages), and maintenance, and so forth. That’s exactly what CD Baby Pro handles for you, so you’re set up to collect all the publishing royalties you’re owed worldwide, including mechanical royalties which ASCAP does NOT collect for you (for international downloads and worldwide streaming).


  • CD Baby Pro is a separate service from our sync licensing program. With CD Baby Pro, we’re collecting all the publishing royalties your music is generating, but you still control your music.

    With our sync licensing program, your songs WOULD BE in a pre-cleared catalog. But you can opt not to use us for sync licensing and still take part in our publishing administration service.


    • muchness

      Ah! See? I did not know that. Apparently, I was only aware of the synch service. Thanks, Chris! 😉

  • Are they paying you just the licensing fees? Or are they set up as a publishing administrator as well? I don’t know the particulars, so this is just a guess, but I’d bet they pay you a portion of the fee they collect for licensing the song, but not acting as a publishing admin.


  • Having a publishing administrator on your side is a bonus for your music career, for sure, but it’s one of those invisible behind-the-scenes things. We help you professionalize your music rights so you’re set up to collect all the royalties you’re owed, but that won’t effect your promotional efforts or give you any extra leverage in terms of Pandora.


  • As far as I understand the details of your situation, these relationships should not create conflict. Sounds like you have deals that help you exploit your composition copyright. Once they’ve helped you done that, we’ll help you collect all the performance royalties (for plays on radio, in venues, etc.) and mechanical royalties (for international downloads, global streaming, other artists covering your music, etc.) you’re owed worldwide. Regarding the payments your licensing agency pays you, I’ll bet that’s the upfront licensing fee — but our publishing admin service would help you collect any resulting performance royalties if the songs are used on television.


  • If you’ve already got your catalog with SongTrust for publishing admin, I’d recommend just leaving things as they are. The publishing administration service is essentially the same. The only benefit to switching at this point would be if you wanted to consolidate all your accounting (for publishing admin, distribution, CDBaby.com sales, etc.) in one place, but I doubt that’s worth the fee of switching.


  • Sure thing. Glad to clarify.


  • Yes, this is possible. You can make CD Baby Pro the administrator for as few as 2 tracks on an album to still make it Pro eligible. Excluding songs is common when there are covers or outside publishers on certain tracks.


  • Nick

    Chris, can you tell me the difference between signing with a record company and joining CD Baby Pro? Thanks!

  • Well, a record label often will handle manufacturing, lining up distribution, coordinating with publicists/managers, and sometimes gives you an advance for your recording. CD Baby Pro is a distribution service, PLUS worldwide publishing royalty collection. So we’re a service that both independent artists AND labels can benefit from (especially since many small labels don’t already have a publishing administrator to help them collect royalties). Hope that helps answer the question. If you need more info, feel free to write or call us.


  • No. You don’t need to provide copyright filing forms during the CD Baby Pro signup process, just your info from your performing rights organization if you’re affiliated with one. If not, we can handle the songwriter affiliation and song registration process for you.


  • L.A.Duo

    originally I when I released my album and signed up with CDBaby Pro I chose not to opt into some of the interactive streaming services but now that the album has been out for a while I would like to. Is this still an option for me? Thanks!

  • Yes, you can change your distribution preferences from within your CD Baby members account.


  • With CD Baby’s sync licensing program linking with YouTube’s content ID system (Also from this article: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/youtube/what-you-need-to-know-about-making-money-from-your-music-on-youtube/ ), has there improvement on lead times when a release will come up on YouTube’s database?

    Last I checked with customer service (cdbaby@cdbaby.com), I was told it takes 9 months before a track would show up upon release. The reason I was given was that it was YouTube’s side that was holding the process up.

    It would be great to hear if any of the teams from the CD Baby Music Publishing division are working with YouTube to lower down the lead-time (to hopefully just month or two? instead of nine?).

    I released my single last December (2014): cdbaby.com/cd/leighlim, and it’s now about 11 months and still it hasn’t shown up in YouTube’s content ID system. For example part of the song has been featured in this video:


    — and you’ll notice that artist information does not show up. 🙁

  • Hmm. That doesn’t sound right at all. Videos should be claimed within days (weeks at the most) of being uploaded, providing the songs are opted into our YouTube Monetization program. I’d suggest giving us a call, or sending an email to cdbaby@cdbaby.com and we can look into it for you.


    • Chris,

      I think we were talking about different issues. Maybe I should have phrased my question generally? (So it would fit more as a comment on this blog entry rather than a specific incident to be sorted out by Customer Service.)

      I was asking about the length of time a release would take to get populated (added as an entry) in YouTube’s content ID system. And you seem to be talking about YouTube’s content ID system picking up a song contained in a video that was recently uploaded.

      Here are the lead times I’m aware of once a release (single/album) goes live:
      – For purchase on CDBaby: 1-2 days
      – For purchase iTunes and Amazon: within a week
      – To Show up on Spotify and Deezer: Unknown
      – Data to get transferred into YouTube’s content ID system: Unknown (I was told by Customer Service it sometimes takes 9 months, which is also another reason I was hoping if Rob’s team has been working on improving this quite lengthy lead time.)
      – Once Data is in YouTube’s content ID system — Length of time before a track (single or within an album) gets tagged with the artist information: Unknown

      Doing a generalised version of my original question would be this: ‘How long would it take for CDBaby to send over the track release data (single/album) to Youtube?’

      And based on your answer…I would want to also ask: ‘Once YouTube receives the data from CDBaby, how long before the YouTube’s content ID system starts flagging videos that is using the track (from single or album)?’

      Hopeful for clarity,

  • We send new music to YouTube daily, so there’s no delay in terms of us submitting your music for Content ID.

    YouTube can start identifying videos using the music very quickly, but it might take up to a month or two for them to find ALL the videos that use your music across YouTube.


  • 1. You can use that name as your publishing company if you’ve listed that company as the publisher when affiliating with ASCAP. If you didn’t, it’s fine to leave the publisher name as the songwriter name.

    2. CD Baby Pro does not lock you in. There is a short term after which you can cancel at any time.

    3. There is a part of the CD Baby Pro process (towards the very end) where we’ll need your ASCAP info if we’re issuing a letter of redirection to collect your royalties for you.


  • Hi Mark,

    We actually do shop songs for licensing, and we also include your songs in several pre-cleared catalogs. That being said, we have 500k artists as clients, so it never hurts to contact us and kinda remind us of what we have to work with, if you know what I mean. You are also free to work with other licensing agencies (as long as they’re not requiring exclusivity for licensing and/or publishing admin). There are tons of them out there, and a Google search will help you find the ones that fit your sound/needs.

    Please follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or Spotify.

  • If you know which P.R.O. you’re going to affiliate with, you can go ahead and just put that name on the album art/liner notes.
    Then later when you sign up that release with CD Baby, you can choose CD Baby Pro and we’ll handle the songwriter affiliation process with that particular Performing Rights Organization (and register your songs with them too).

    First step is probably to register your copyright with Copyright.gov.
    Then work on your album art and liner notes (simultaneously). Note: you can claim the copyright year regardless of whether you get a confirmation from the Library of Congress on your copyright registration, because registration is different from your actual ownership of the copyright. You own that the instant your music is set down in a fixed way on paper, on a recording, etc.

    So: 1) copyright, 2) artwork/liner notes, 3) CD Baby Pro: which simultaneously takes care of distribution and publishing rights administration and P.R.O. affiliation/song registration.

    You don’t NEED to do things in that order, but that’s how it makes the most sense to me.

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    • Morgan Minsk


  • Hi Frankie,

    Sorry for the long delay. Holidaze!

    So, when you sign up with CD Baby Pro we’ll handle all the affiliation and registration work with ASCAP or BMI (your choice). So, you WILL want to be associated with one of those organizations, BUT we’ll handle that process for you.

    Follow me to the end of the rainbow on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter and get a free PDF of my poetry chapbook: I Say Potato, You Say Apocalypse.

  • If you distribute albums that contain songs you already released as singles, you would just need to upgrade the album/s to Pro Publishing. As long as all the songs you want administered are on those albums, we’ll be able to collect publishing royalties for them all.

    Follow me to the end of the rainbow on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter and get a free PDF of my poetry chapbook: I Say Potato, You Say Apocalypse.

  • As far as I know, ASCAP should not be listed as your publisher. They are a performing rights organization, not a publisher. Have you contacted ASCAP to clarify?

    Follow me to the end of the rainbow on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter and get a free PDF of my poetry chapbook: I Say Potato, You Say Apocalypse.