PPL distributes royalties to musicians who have played on music recordings and/or who own (ie have paid for, or made) music recordings.
So if you’ve made a tune in your bedroom that you later release, or go to studio under your own steam, record an album and then release it, join PPL. You’ll be joining them as a rights holder (that’s
a fancy way of saying that you own the recording and no one is allowed to make copies of it except you – basically, you get your own record label from an admin point of view).
If you play on recordings as an instrumentalist or a vocalist, you should join PPL as a performer.
You’re due performer royalties for any tunes you play on – whether they’re your own or other people’s.
So if you play on a recording and own it, you get royalties as a rights holder and as a performer – double money for you, clever clogs!
The royalties don’t just come out of thin air – radio and TV stations, shops, restaurants, and all
businesses that use recorded music have to pay a license to PPL so they can use music. PPL then shares out the license money to rights holders and performers depending on how often their tunes have been played by PPL’s licensees.
You don’t need constant airplay on Radio 1 or a sync deal to get money: if your track gets played on internet radio you’re entitled to PPL royalties.
Just make sure the station is legit and has got a PPL license before you send in your song! (And be aware – the amounts for plays on internet radio are small – but everything adds up.)
To make sure your fair share, get an ISRC code for every track you release. (Tip: check out WTF is an ISRC for all the info on ISRCs and how to use them).
Final smart tips (just cos we love you):
Tip 1: If you wrote your tune and/or any lyrics, join PRS for Music to make sure you get songwriter royalties as PPL don’t do these. Check out WTF is PRS? for the deets.
Tip 2: you won’t get any royalties for putting your tunes up on Soundcloud or any other public music website, because these platforms don’t need a PPL license.
Put your tunes up to get heard, network with other musos, and build your fanbase – not to make money.