If you are a member of PRS/MCPS you have access to the online database of all works this organisation is authorised to collect for. Each entry has a list of the composers (music) and authors (lyrics) along with their share of each royalty stream, plus the same for their publishers and sub-publishers, and also useful information such as whether the work is active (royalty yielding) or not and whether the writers are members of PRS/MCPS, another society, or a non member.
It is important for you to register your new works using this portal using your CAE (9 digit number). If you have written a song with other writers you must also enter their information. If any writers are not members of a collection society it is also important you still include them with their shares and you can enter their names and addresses.
You will be asked to put in other information such as alternative titles, track length, whether it is for an audio visual production. If the work is active (released, screened, played on radio) you will be asked for details so PRS can effectively track the work and collect royalties on your behalf.
If the work has not been released you can also request to be notified before a label attempts to release it in the process known as ‘MCPS 1st License Referral’. This is a useful tool to make sure you are notified of the release of your work by another party, and has proven effective by me personally in a situation where I was writing with someone who was signed to a label and I had a disagreement with his new manager over my share of the works. It turned out the label was going ahead with a worldwide release on CD and vinyl. I had asked MCPS for 1st License Referral and was notified directly that a license had been requested by the label. I was then in a much stronger position to negotiate as my consent was required for the release to go ahead. To use this service in similar circumstances members have to notify MCPS via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), using the first licence referral form downloadable from the site.
Once PRS/MCPS has accepted your registration they issue the all important Tunecode, the 7-10 digit code, sometimes including letters, which identifies your work amongst the millions of others handled by PRS. This allows you to track usage of your work faster than searching by title as some titles run to 100’s of numbers!
Guest article by: Matthew Mars