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Does DistroKid Copyright Your Music For You? (Explained & Answered)

By Matthew Vultaggio

January 9, 2021

The more I put out music on Spotify, and the more I make royalty money from that music, the more I want to learn about copyright and if my music distributor, DistroKid, takes care of this for me. So I researched the topic and wrote about it here.

DistroKid does not copyright your music for you or register your songs for copyright, DistroKid simply distributes your music. DistroKid also does not register your music with any publishers or performance rights organizations.

However, there are more details that are worth knowing when it comes to copyright, sample clearance, sample licensing, and putting out remixes and covers with DistroKid.

So strap on your learning cap, and let’s embark on the pursuit of knowledge together, my friend! 🙂

DistroKid & Copyright Explained

Although DistroKid does not copyright your music for you, they do mention this in their FAQ article on copyright:

“This is not legal advice, and we are not your lawyer. But… under the present copyright law, which became effective January 1, 1978, a work is automatically protected by copyright when it is created. A work is created when it is “fixed” or embodied in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. Neither registration in the Copyright Office nor publication is required for copyright protection under the law.

DistroKid

However, they do go on to mention that you may want to go through proper copyright registration for your work because it can be helpful in terms of copyright claims and infringement suits.

So essentially, the act of recording your music is the first natural step in copyright protection. From there, you have the option to pursue formal copyright registration if you personally feel it is important.

But how much does copyrighting a song cost? And what about covers, remixes, and samples?

Great questions!

Let’s continue to dig deeper, my friend. 🙂

How Much Does It Cost To Copyright A Song?

The cost to copyright a song is $35 when done online. However, costs can range to at least $85 per work when you choose paper registration or if there are multiple artists or performers.

I’m not a lawyer, but I found a great article written by Jane Haskins, Esq., who is and who goes into more detail on this topic in that article.

One thing, in particular, that seemed important were the steps to copyrighting a song, which is as follows:

  1. Record Your Song
  2. Register for an Account at the U.S. Copyright Office Website
  3. Fill out the Copyright Registration Application
  4. Pay the Registration Fee
  5. Submit a Copy of Your Song

But with that said… do you even need to copyright your music?

Do I need to copyright my music?

You do not need to copyright your music because any original work is automatically protected by copyright when it is created.

It is your intellectual property and, thus, you own the copyright (if it is an original piece of music that is).

But what if your song is a cover song?

DistroKid Cover Songs Explained

You can upload cover songs to Spotify and Apple Music using DistroKid. They charge a fee of $12 per year to keep the song up and will take care of all the legal and licensing fees and work for you.

DistroKid describes a cover song as a piece of music that was originally written by someone else, that is performed & recorded by you.

The important thing to note here is that the song must be performed and recorded by you. It can’t include samples of the original piece of music that was performed and recorded by the original artist.

For $12, that actually sounds like a pretty good deal to me. DistroKid even mentions that they will do all of this for you:

  • Obtain license(s)
  • Pay the original songwriter(s) every month
  • Keep up-to-date on copyright laws affecting your music
  • Do the things described here and here

Not a bad deal at all.

For a deeper look into how DistroKid handles cover songs, including examples of what and what does not count as a cover song, I’d recommend checking out this FAQ article they wrote on the topic.

But what if you want to use the originally performed and recorded music to create a remix?

DistroKid Remixes Explained

You can only upload remixes with DistroKid if you have permission to upload the remix. The reason for this is because you can not upload any music that contains uncleared samples.

If your music does not contain any uncleared samples (for example because you re-performed and re-recorded the parts yourself), then this could mean your “remix” is actually a “cover”, which can be okay to upload.

You can upload remixes of your own music or remixes of any songs where you have the original artist’s permission.

If you have permission, this is how to properly credit the remixer and original:

  1. Sign in to DistroKid and click on the “UPLOAD” tab
  2. List the original artist’s name in the “Artist/band name” field
  3. In the “Song title” field make sure you format the title like this “Song Name (feat. Remixer) [Remixer Remix]

In step 3 make sure to replace ‘Song Name’ with the actual song name and ‘Remixer’ with the name of the artist that is doing the remix.

According to DistroKid, this will help stores make sure all the proper tags and credits are in order, and they will remove the “(feat. Remixer)” part when actually tagging the profile.

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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