Useful UK music organisations for independant music makers

This article presents a quick round up of UK organisations that are/may be important to independant music makers and record labels seeking to release their music and earn from it.

Royalty collection agencies

independant record labels and individual bands and artists who are releasing and selling music in the UK may want to become members of these organisations, in order to ensure they receive royalties.

Organisation What do they do? On behalf of who? From who? Who can join?
PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) Collect performance and broadcast royalties. Owners of music recordings and performers on music recordings TV and radio stations, internet sites, venues where pre-recorded music is played (eg bar) Individual recording artists and session players and record companies
PRS (Performing Rights Society) Collect performance and broadcast royalties. Individual composers, publishing companies & copyright owners TV and radio stations, internet sites, venues where pre-recorded music is played (eg bar, cinemas, clubs, supermarkets etc) Individual composers, publishing companies & copyright owners
MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) Collect mechanical royalties on behalf of composers, in the form of a license fee that pays for permission to duplicate a recording. Therefore this fee is normally collected before duplication of a CD, DVD etc, although smaller labels and composers financing their own recordings and selling them can apply for a license that allows them to pay (often themselves!) retrospectively as sales income comes in. Individual composers, publishing companies & copyright owners Record companies and record labels Record companies, record labels, writers and publishers

PPL and ISRC codes

As well as collecting royalties, the PPL also administers ISRC codes, which identify a recording and its owner record label/company. These codes can be "embedded" into CDs. Contact PPL to register for a unique code if you are an independant record label. More on ISRC codes here.

Gracenote

The Gracenote database contains information on the title of a CD, the artist, and the individual track titles. iTunes uses the Gracenote database to retrieve this information when you rip a CD to the iTunes library, and can also be used to submit CD details. More on Gracenote here.

 

UPC barcodes

Barcodes are essential for physical products such as CDs if they are to be sold through internet and retail high street shops. They allow a retailer to track stock and pay the supplier. There are essentially 2 ways to get a barcode for your product (CD, DVD etc) ...

  1. Become a member of the UCC (Uniform Code Council), who administer barcodes. You pay fees, annual subscription etc, and then you can generate artwork for your own barcodes. This method can be expensive and is probably only appropriate for large record companies/labels.
  2. Get a pressing plant, duplicator, mastering house or retailer who are already UCC members, to generate a barcode for you.

More on UPC barcodes here.

Further reading

Detailed advice on selling your music online is here.

A article on the structure and organisations of the music industry is here.