I’m sure many of you may have heard of the “Poor Man’s Copyright,” where you physically mail yourself a copy of your music. It is believed that as long as you do not open the envelope, then the postmark date will work as the copyright date. The same myth seems to apply for social media uploads. If you upload a song to a platform such as SoundCloud or YouTube, that the time date and stamp shown will also work as a copyright date… DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!
Knowing how to copyright your music is a vital part in protecting yourself as a musician. So, lets start with the basics…
What does copyrighting your music actually do? 
Copyrights legally protect your music and gives you an official date of creation. You may have recorded a song two years ago, but if there is no official documentation to support that, you are vulnerable to having your work duplicated or stolen without retribution.
The United States Copyright Office provides forms for mailing and electronic submissions. While the submission process appears to be straightforward, it can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing. It is important to know which forms to use.
For music recordings, you can submit a Sound Recordings or Performing Arts form. There are fees associated with filing paperwork with the Copyright Office. Depending on the number of works submitted will determine that amount. You can, however, save money by submitting multiple songs under one application as long as the author is the same.
The melodies and actual lyrics of a song ARE protected under copyright law. But, song ideas or concepts, chord progressions and short titles or phrases ARE NOT.

As always, it is recommended that you hire an attorney to assist you with this process. I have a long-standing relationship with Pearson & Mitchell Attorneys and would highly recommend them for all of your legal needs. They have helped with several legal matters for my company, Power Move Management and our artists.
If you would like more in depth knowledge on music copyrights, I recommend reading “Music Copyrights for the New Millennium” by David J. Moser. The book is very comprehensive and helpful. 
Let me know what you think. What other resources have been helpful for you?

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