If you're interested in learning how to copyright a song and earn royalties, this post is for you. I copyrighted a lullaby when my son was born in 2017. I am also a national bestselling author of Buy Not That and How To Engineer Your Layoff, where I also have copyrights with the Library of Congress.
As a new parent, a lot of your time is spent trying to soothe and get your baby to sleep. Besides providing a constant rocking motion, one of the best ways to soothe a baby is to sing to him or her, regardless of whether you have a lovely voice or not.
Eventually, everything you say becomes a song because a pleasant melody is what babies love.
For example, instead of speaking, I will sing to my wife, “Wheeeeen was the last time he aaaaate?” Or, “Did we forgeeet to change his diapeeeeer? lalala.” It's a rite of passage that parents speak parentese or sing-songy.
Over the first three months of my son's life, I came up with a number of songs that helped him stop crying or actually pass out within five minutes. However, given my previous voice training was back in elementary school, I'm a terrible singer. Fortunately, my little one doesn't know that. All he knows is that hearing the sound of my voice makes him feel safe.
I have three goals for this post:
1) Share how musical dreamers can copyright a song.
2) Help new parents get their kids to go to sleep with a brand new lullaby that can be easily sung.
3) Highlight the many different ways you can earn royalty income once you've copyrighted your song.
How To Copyright A Song
Under international law, copyright is the automatic right of the creator of a work. All you've got to do is record your song, write out the lyrics, and voila! It's copyrighted. Given I own FinancialSamurai.com, a copyrighted website, I just have to publish the lyrics and the song here for worldwide distribution and I'm good to go.
Ah, another great reason to start your own website.
Alas, most of you will refuse to plant your own flag online and thus enable other internet companies to get rich off you. No problem. In order to enforce the copyright without a website, you just need to be able to prove your ownership.
In the US, the main way to prove your ownership is by registering your beautiful song with the U.S. government's copyright website.
For all you creatives out there, here are seven simple steps to copyrighting your song.
1) Record your song. The easiest way to do so is through the voice recorder of your iPhone or Android device. Or you can record your song via your laptop. Make sure you write out the lyrics or e-mail them to yourself. As soon as your song is recorded, it's copyrighted.
2) Go to https://www.copyright.gov/. Click on the Electronic Copyright Office, where you can make an online copyright filing. The whole process takes about five months to process.
3) Register a free account. Click on “new user” to open your account. You'll need to give your name, address, country (if not from the USA), phone details, and preferred contact method.
4) Complete your online copyright application. Click on “Register a New Claim” under “Copyright Services,” located in the left-hand column of your account. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself, the work you're seeking to copyright and where you'd like the copyright certification to be sent.
5) Pay the $35 fee. You can pay via credit or debit card, electronic check, or a copyright office deposit account.
6) Upload an electronic copy of your work. Many types of files are accepted, but check the Copyright Office's complete list to ensure that you're not sending in an incompatible file.
7) Wait for your copyright application to be processed. You can log back into your account at any time to check the status of your claim. Overall, it took me five months to get my copyright in the mail.
A Samurai Lullaby: Cutie Baby
We've all heard the all-time classics such as, Rock-a-bye Baby, Ba Ba Blacksheep, Brahm's Lullaby, and Twinkle Twinkle Star. But for those parents who want some variety, let me introduce a new lullaby that will resound in households everywhere from this day forward: Cutie Baby!
Cutie Baby was constructed in such a way that you can use your little one's name in the lyrics. All you've got to do is replace the word “Cutie” with your child's name and you're good to go. If your little one's name is longish or doesn't rhyme with baby, that's OK. All you've got to do is truncate the name and add an “a” or a “y” suffix so it does.
For example: David becomes Davy. William becomes Billy. Katrina becomes Katey. Susan becomes Susy. Yolanda becomes Yolandy. Samuel become Sammy. Pretty neat huh?
For those who also write and sing but are too afraid to share your work with the world, I say who cares. The worst that can happen is nothing. But the best that can happen is someone discovers your work and pays you to feature your song in the next Apple iPhone commercial and makes you rich!
Cutie Baby (Copyright # SR0000800220)
Here are the lyrics to Cutie Baby with the sheet music below. You can listen to the simple melody by listening to the podcast down below (song starts at 5:28) or clicking this page which is my official Cutie Baby page with audio.
Cutie (replace with your little one's name) baby
Mama's here for you
Is there anything Papa can do?
You look so sweet tonight
Dream away baby
Everything's gonna be alright
Little dragon baby
Grow up to be so mighty
Everything's gonna be alrighty
Papa's here for you
Is there anything Mama can do?
We're so blessed to have you
Yawn away baby
We'll always be there for you
Little muffin baby
Is there anything more we can do?
You've made our dreams come true
Sweet dreams little one.
We love you.
If you are a gay couple or a single parent, you can simply change the lyrics.
I'd love for readers to e-mail me their versions of Cutie Baby using your child's name. All you've got to do is open up the voice recorder on your mobile phone, record, save, name, and e-mail it to me. I'd like to put your version up in this post or on the Cutie Baby page.
Here is the sheet music to Cutie Baby as composed by my wife. It's really easy to play on the piano or guitar.
Building Passive Income With Royalty Income
The only passive income stream I've yet to try and build is royalty income, largely because I have no musical talent. But what I've since realized is that I don't need to have a great voice to make royalty income. I can simply license out the lyrics and have great songsters sing for me.
Further, my lyrics and melody are basic. This enables every parent to sing the song, regardless of musical talent.
According to Tune Core, a website that allows you to sell your music on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, & more, here are the 13 different ways to earn money through royalties. They are:
1) “Analog” Public Performance Royalties
2) Synchronization License Royalties
3) Mechanical Synchronization Royalties
4) Print Royalties
5) Digital Download Mechanical Royalties
6) Streaming Mechanical Royalties
7) Digital Non-interactive “Streaming” Public Performance Royalties
8) Interactive “Streaming” Public Performance Royalties
9) Digital Synchronization License
10) Digital Print
11) Mechanical Royalty For A Ringtone/Ringback ToneDescription
12) Mechanical Royalty For A Ringtone/Ringback Tone
13) Public Performance Royalty For A Ringtone/Ringback Tone
I had no idea there were so many ways to make money from music, and I bet neither did you. I don't plan for Cutie Baby to make me any royalties. But just like how The LA Times picked up one of my posts about an umbrella policy back in 2010 that helped put Financial Samurai on the map, you just never know what will happen if you put yourself out there.
Usage Inquiries: For those interested in using Cutie Baby for a commercial, TV show, movie, podcast, blog post, or any sort of production, please shoot me an e-mail from my About page. Cutie Baby copyright registration number is SR0000800220.
Any royalties received from Cutie Baby will be used to support children and adults with visual impairments such as nystagmus (involuntary movement of the eyes), ocular albinism (a lack of pigment in the retina), strabismus (misalignment of the eyes), and more.
Readers, are there any musicians or artists out there who earn royalty income? If so, how hard is it to generate a decent royalty income stream? Again, I'd love to hear your version of Cutie Baby if you want to shoot me an e-mail. Featured image by Kongsavage.com.