About Song Registration

Here at Hidden Jams, you will see that some songs are registered with organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, and HFA, or listed on the Copyright Catalog. Around the internet, fans often speculate about whether these song registrations are trustworthy or legitimate. No need to worry: They are. Any time a song is registered with any of these organizations, you can trust that the song is indeed a real and official song, written or recorded by the artist listed. Anytime a song is registered or listed on any of those four organizations, we include it in our Hidden Jams song lists.

How It Works

ASCAP and BMI

Only songwriters or their publishers can register a song with ASCAP or BMI; these are the two main performance rights organizations in the United States. These songwriters and publishers will sign up to be members of the society, and only they can register songs with the society of their choice. ASCAP and BMI are the main two in the United States, although SESAC is the third, but less used, organization. Other countries have their own performance rights organizations.

When a song is registered with ASCAP or BMI, the songwriters can then earn royalties (usage-based payments) on their creations. Every time a song is used in a movie, TV show, or advertisement, the songwriters must be paid royalties. When a song is played on the radio, the songwriters will be paid a royalty. This is an important way for songwriters to earn money on their compositions or lyrics.

Only the songwriters get paid royalties through ASCAP and BMI; performers do not, unless they wrote or cowrote the song.

HFA

HFA, on the other hand, collects and distributes mechanical license fees on behalf of music publishers in the United States. This is different from performance royalties. HFA, or Harry Fox Agency, pays the recording artist for all physical releases of their music. Whenever an recording artist’s song is distributed on an album, movie soundtrack, or other physical form, the artist will be paid.

United States Copyright Office

Another form of registration referenced on this website is the United States Copyright Office. It is part of the Library of Congress, and their Copyright Catalog contains records of all copyright registered works. These songs may not have been registered with ASCAP, BMI, or HFA, but if the song exists, it will appear in the Copyright Catalog. This includes many leaked demos or rare live recordings of otherwise unreleased songs.

Learn More

You can learn more about these organizations by visiting their respective websites:

ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) – 

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) – 

HFA (Harry Fox Agency) – 

United States Copyright Catalog – 

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