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Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Registering Your Songs

1. Not including the Interested Party Information (IPI) number and contact information for the songwriter and/or publisher of the song

An IPI (Interested Party Information) is a nine-digit number that is assigned to songwriters and publishers by their collection society in order to identify them as rights holders. Every writer and/or publisher in the world who is affiliated with a collection society is assigned one, and no single IPI number is the same (think of it sort of like a social security number, if you're from the USA, or a passport number). 

Your IPI number, and those of your co-writers, is vital in identifying you as the owner of a song, regardless of where in the world your music is played. If you don’t provide your IPI, or if you provide an incorrect one, collection societies won’t be able to identify you as the copyright owner and pay out your royalties.

Make sure you know what your IPI number is (here’s how to find it) so that you have it readily available when it comes time to register your song. Similarly, if you have your own publishing entity set up at your society, you must also use that entity’s name and IPI number in addition to your own name and IPI when registering your works.

Likewise, providing the correct publisher or songwriter contact information will help ensure that your collection society can easily find you and properly allocate your royalties.

2. Not including all your co-writers and/or their shares in the song registration

Incorrect song ownership information is one of the most common reasons copyright owners have their royalties withheld. If the information is wrong (inconsistent with prior registrations) or inaccurate (for example, your shares are overclaimed or add up to more than 100%), collection societies will hold on to the money until they are able to figure out who is entitled to what. 

To make sure this doesn't happen to you, the first thing you should do once you’ve finished writing a song is agree on ownership shares for each writer. Once finalized, get it in writing and make sure the splits add up to 100%. One of the best and easiest ways for all parties to know what percentage of a song they own is by completing a split sheet. That way, once it comes time to register the song, you know exactly who to include in the registration as well as what shares to allocate to them. 

Including who else worked on a song and their ownership shares helps publishers or societies ensure that the information matches when your co-writers register the same song. Should they not match, the registration will go into conflict at the societies and all payments will stop until the parties resolve the issue. Think of this as a safety net -- it verifies all of that song’s registration information before any royalties are paid out, so you don’t have to worry about a co-writer going rogue and earning more than they should. 

Quick note: if you’re with BMI in the US, this number will add up to 200% during song registration because BMI defines the writer’s share and publisher’s share as their own individual units. Basically, they view the writer’s share as a full 100% and the publisher’s share as a full 100%, rather than both shares equaling 100%. Don’t let this confuse you though -- the concept is the same; it’s merely BMI’s format that differs from other collection societies.

3. Not clearing samples or getting permission to claim publishing on derivative works

Anytime you use someone else's intellectual property, whether this use is via a sample, re-recording of someone else's melody (i.e. an interpolation), or a combination of multiple pre-existing works to create a new song (i.e. derivative work), you are legally required to obtain permission from the owners of the composition. Why? Because the copyright holders of those works are entitled to a claim of the new work, even if they are not part of the creative process. In addition, if you are sampling any part of a recorded song, rather than covering it or interpolating the melody, you need additional permission from owners of the master recording.

If you don’t obtain permission before registering the song, you risk being sued for copyright infringement, which often results in you having to pay damages/settlement fees, turning over any and all earnings that your song generated and occasionally also having to give up 100% of your copyright to the other parties. Make sure to always get permission in writing prior to registering any song that uses someone else's intellectual property to avoid having these things happen to you.


4. Not taking the steps to update your contact information and current publisher at your collection society

If something changes, such as your mailing address, phone number or email address, it’s important that you update your collection society -- just as you would any other subscriptions. If you’ve recently switched publishers, you also need to notify your society right away. Forgetting to remove old publishers can cause your society to continue paying them long after they’ve lost the right to collect on royalties generated for your work.

5. Not updating your song registration with new recordings or alternative titles

Not providing new recordings, such as live versions or covers, or alternative titles, makes it harder for your collection society to match those incoming payments to the song you registered with them (i.e. if your song is named “Up 2 No Good Luv,” you should also submit “Up to No Good Love” as an alternative title).

6. Not listing the song’s performers, ISRC and other sound recording metadata

Not providing metadata related to the sound recording of your song, such as the song’s ISRC and a list of all the performers, can cause issues with tracking and collecting your royalties worldwide.

7. Not submitting your setlists from live performances of your song

Songwriters can earn performance royalties when their songs are performed live in public, and submitting setlists to your collection society is key to getting those royalties. Generally, you should submit your setlists within six months of your performance and list the venue name, date, and all the songs performed.

What is a CAE / IPI number?
CAE / IPI numbers are the same. An IPI/CAE number is an international identification number assigned to songwriters and publishers to uniquely identify rights holders.  The CAE system was replaced by the IPI system in 2001. These are typically 9-11-digit numbers and are assigned when a songwriter affiliates with a PRO. IPI/CAEs are often confused with PRO account numbers so it is important to double check that you are providing the correct number. 

  • IPI stands for: Interested Parties Information

  • CAE stands for: Composer, Author and Publisher 

It is imperative that your IPI/CAE number is submitted to TuneCore Publishing administration in order to accurately register your songs. Essentially, the IPI/CAE connects you to the songs you have written ensuring payments are made.  You can obtain your IPI/CAE number from your PRO by either logging into your PRO account, contacting your PRO or by performing a search in the public repertory on both ASCAP and BMI. Search your name and the IPI/CAE will appear next to it. 

A CAE/IPI number will be generated for you approximately 1 week after you affiliate with your PRO as a writer.  You may then learn what CAE/IPI number has been assigned to you by doing a repertoire search by your registered songwriter/composer name at your PRO.  The number will appear next to your name. 

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