Nine Frequently Asked Questions About Reading Songtrust’s Royalty Statements

Everything you want to know about your royalty statement.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch our AMA video about royalty payouts and statements a couple years back, we’ve got the next best thing: detailed answers to nine of our most frequently asked questions on the royalty statement front. 

Looking for a little more information about a specific topic? Our Help Center has got you covered, as does the Songtrust team that’s on speed dial here

What is the relationship between “Access” and royalty statements?

Access is a Songtrust feature that facilitates account sharing. While the read-only version lets invited parties see a songwriter’s information, royalty report, and split details, full access adds the ability to submit or remove specific pieces. 
A few common examples of Access in action would be a songwriter letting their lawyer comb over their account or a band that brings their members’ individual accounts under one banner to simplify royalty payments and song registrations. 
Find out more about how Access works here.

How do you define “units”?The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) celebrated the 60th anniversary of its Gold & Platinum Program in 2018. According to its official guidelines, a Gold record has racked up 500,000 units and a Platinum record has rounded 1 million. The RIAA’s other key benchmarks include Multi-Platinum (2 million units) and Diamond (10 million units), a select group starring such chart-toppers as Mariah Carey, Led Zeppelin, OutKast, and Garth Brooks. 
As for how units are calculated, digital and physical albums both count as one “unit” per sale. Artists need to earn 10 permanent track downloads and 1,500 on-demand video or audio streams for the very same amount, though. In other words, 1,000 downloads and 150,000 streams equal the same 100 units you’d earn by selling just 100 physical or digital albums. 

Can I download my royalty statements?
Exporting your royalty data to an external spreadsheet is relatively simple. Click “Menu” and “Royalties”, then select “Export Statements” from the first drop-down menu. Export options include all-time stats along with more specific breakdowns by songwriter and song. The export’s “Last Period” covers the most recent pay-out for royalty earnings. 

How long does it take for royalty data to be fully reflected on my statements? 
The best way to look at this is by following the full journey of royalties once a pay source passes your earnings onto Songtrust. If you are affiliated with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) like ASCAP or BMI recently and registering your songs for the first time, royalties will typically land in your Songtrust account between 9 and 12 months later. This is standard operating procedure for publishing administration, as is a minimum of six months between any song usages and related performance royalties. It takes about a year after joining Songtrust for other pay sources to pop up, too, including mechanical royalties and global performance royalties. 
If your songs aren't being meaningfully consumed (sold, streamed, broadcasted, performed, etc.),  you shouldn’t expect earnings to show up in your royalty statement or bank account suddenly. Remember: Songtrust does not generate royalties for you. We collect royalties that your works are already earning. 
For more details on how your work winds its way through Songtrust — from registration to royalty collection — check out a particularly helpful blog post here.

What kind of royalty data do you provide? 
Songtrust’s reporting system is one of the most advanced in the music industry. Our royalty dashboard features a global interactive map and a robust breakdown of the following statistics:

  • Total earnings
  • Estimated earnings (for the next quarter)
  • Quarter-by-quarter earnings
  • Earnings by songwriter
  • Song-by-song earnings
  • Territory-by-territory earnings
  • Society-by-society earnings
  • Earnings by royalty type
  • Highest earning songs (historically)

Check out a complete walkthrough of how to use Songtrust’s platform here

Do you charge a transaction or conversion fee for payouts? 
Songtrust charges a 15% commission on any performance, mechanical, or micro-sync royalties we collect on behalf of your publisher’s share. Your writer’s share should come directly from your PRO. A diagram explaining what Songtrust collects and charges a commission for can be found here

Songtrust does not charge clients any fees for transferring royalty payments within their accounts.  

Please refer to PayPal for more information regarding fees that may apply when withdrawing money out of your PayPal account.


How do I know which royalties are retroactive? 
Defining the “earned on” section of your royalty report will help determine which royalties are retroactive and which are more recent. 

Why have I only received payouts from a couple of pay sources? 
Each pay source follows its own schedule. Some pay sources may take longer to register and track than others. Some deliver their payouts once a month; others are as infrequent as once a year. Different usage types also vary, timeline-wise. 

If we receive payments from just two pay sources when your accounting period closes, you will only receive royalties from those sources. This doesn’t mean your songs aren’t registered elsewhere. In most cases, you should receive any royalties from other global pay sources within the next few statements. Sometimes pay sources will not register works at all on their public database until they are payable, but could still be registered privately in their system. 

How do I know if my royalty statement is correct?
If you’re still wondering what this stat or that royalty type means after reading our FAQ feature, you can always head straight for our royalty dashboard webinar or the ample reading material within our resource center. Songtrust’s royalty estimate tool can also give you a ballpark breakdown of what your songs are currently earning if you’re short on time and want a bird’s eye view of how well your work is doing.