If you have talent for music and want to publish a song you wrote -- for a recording artist or to perform it yourself -- you can publish with a music publisher or self-publish. Music publishers take care of all aspects of promoting and selling your work in exchange for a percentage of the profits. Self-publishing your song will entitle you to all profits, but you will need to handle all of the promotion and bookkeeping involved. No matter which avenue you choose, either will put you closer to achieving your dream.
Write down the song’s lyrics and the name of each chord in the melody. Proofread and play the song to make sure you have written the chords down correctly. If possible, create a demo at a recording studio or on your computer with music recording software.
Visit copyright.gov and apply for a U.S. copyright on your song to protect it from being claimed by someone else. The fee is $35 as of June 2011, and the processing time is approximately 3 months. Once the copyright is established, you will receive a certificate and copyright number.
Find a music publisher by perusing listings in online trade publications such as Billboard, ASCAP and BMI. Choose publishers interested in your genre of music. For example, don’t waste time submitting a country song to a rock-only publisher. Follow their submission guidelines exactly.
Publish your music yourself by creating an audio and selling it through a self-publishing music and distribution company such as Create Space or MySpace.
When you self-publish, you can opt to create the CDs yourself rather than pay a self-publishing company to do it. However, you will be responsible for start-up fees and distribution.
Do not try to publish your song until you have the copyright in place. Doing so will make you vulnerable to theft.
Yvonne Ward began her professional writing career in 2004. She wrote a true-crime book published in 2010 and has two more underway. She also has a strong background in business, education and farm living. Ward is pursuing a Master of Arts in history and culture from Union Institute and University.