Indie Artist Ally: A Step-by-Step Guide to Copyrighting Your Music

Written by on July 3, 2024

Indie Artist Ally: A Step-by-Step Guide to Copyrighting Your Music

Congratulations on creating amazing music! Now, it’s time to secure your intellectual property and protect your work.Copyrighting your music allows you to control its use and receive compensation when it’s used commercially. Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigate the process as an independent artist:

Step 1: Understand What Gets Copyrighted

Music copyright protects two key aspects of your creation:

  • The Composition: This refers to the musical arrangement, melody, harmony, and lyrics.
  • The Sound Recording: This focuses on the actual recorded version of your music, including the performance and production.

Step 2: Prepare Your Materials

Before heading to the copyright office, gather the following:

  • Completed application form: Download the U.S. Copyright Office’s Form SR (“Standard Application for Single or Multiple Works”) from their website (
  • A copy of your music: Submit either a physical copy (CD) of your recording or a digital file in an accepted format (WAV, AIFF).
  • Filing fee: As of July 2024, the fee for electronic registration for a single musical work is $35. You can pay by credit card, debit card, or electronic check.

Step 3: Complete the Application Form

Fill out Form SR accurately and completely. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your name and contact information (as the copyright claimant)
  • Title of your song(s)
  • Year of creation (the year you first fixed your music in a tangible form, like recording it)
  • Authorship information: If you have co-writers, list their names and contact details.

Step 4: Submit Your Application and Fee

There are two ways to submit your application:

  • Electronically: This is the quickest and easiest option. Upload your completed form, music file, and pay the fee online through the Copyright Office’s Electronic Copyright Office (ECO) system. (
  • By mail: Print out the completed form, include a physical copy of your music, and mail it with a check or money order to the U.S. Copyright Office.

Step 5: Wait for Confirmation

The Copyright Office will process your application, typically within a few months. You’ll receive a notification with your registration number, serving as official proof of your copyright.

Bonus Tips for Indie Artists:

  • Copyright both the composition and sound recording: This offers maximum protection.
  • Consider a copyright protection service: These services can simplify the process and offer additional support (may involve fees).
  • Register your music even if it’s not released: Copyright protection begins from the moment you create and fix your music in a tangible form.
  • Consider registering with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO): A PRO helps collect royalties when your music is played publicly (e.g., radio, live performances).

Remember: Copyrighting your music is an essential step for any serious indie artist. By following these steps, you’ll ensure your creative work is protected and you receive the recognition you deserve!

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