Are You Currently Suffering From PHORM-A-PHOBIA?

- A remedy to your fear of music industry forms

- a blog post by Creative Passport Ambassador Melanie Lane -

Are you a musician or songwriter who suffers from PHORM-A-PHOBIA? – If so, here is a helpful explanation especially for you to end your anxiety about music industry forms. After reading this, you will stop thinking of these documents as A Level / SAT exams, and instead believe they are just simple questions to get paid for your music.

As someone who has worked in the business side of the music industry for many years, I have had countless encounters with artists who are unwilling to return licensing forms, copyright information, song forms, letters of direction, etc. For whatever reason you might feel reluctant to fill in forms about your music, if you fail to do so then you are MOST CERTAINLY, ABSOLUTELY, 100% missing out on royalties!

I cannot emphasize this enough! – Providing detailed personal, copyright and song information is vital to processing your royalties!

Let me begin with what happens after you sign a deal with a record label, music publisher or distributor. Once your agreement is sorted, you will be asked to provide a Letter of Direction (LOD), tax form and similar information below to get your music registered and licensed. After your forms are accepted, your information will be put into a database and an account will be set up in your name to process royalties for each of your songs. You should get familiar with the following information because you will need to submit this for any tracks you plan to release.
Here are some very important facts and steps to help you with music industry forms:
  1. Legally, these forms must be filled in directly by you or an authorized signatory as they are a declaration of valid and accurate information which require your signature. Your record label, distributor or publisher cannot take your information over the phone or advise on how to fill in forms. This is the very definition of a conflict of interest.

  2. If you need guidance filling in forms then ask your manager. In most of my email exchanges with artists about licensing forms, their manager was cc’d and part of the process. And if your manager does not know how to help you, then I must suggest that you get a new manager.  (that is not a joke!)

  3. Providing partial or inaccurate information will delay your royalty payments. You should always return your forms fully filled in as soon as possible. If you do not have a PRO or publisher yet, no one is going to condemn you and you can inform everyone when you do.

  4. Every form must be completed and accepted for you to get paid for your music, and the same goes for every artist regardless of their status or fame. Name dropping or claiming to know this VIP person or that label head will NEVER get you out of having to provide them. Also getting angry with the person who is requesting your forms will only make you look bad.

  5. After your forms have been accepted, you MUST alert each company that you have an agreement with about any updates to your contact information or you might miss out on royalties! Your record label and PRO will never know if you moved unless you tell them. Add everyone involved with your music to your list of companies to contact when your personal information changes.
Hopefully you now understand how imperative music industry forms are to your career and why they are needed. This is your music, your livelihood, your life’s work, treat it as your most valuable possession and look after it properly. From the business side of the music industry, the information about your music is as immensely important as the music itself.

Melanie Lane has many years of music industry experience in licensing and publishing. She previously worked for UMG, Bug Music and Napster, and currently has her own music rights and licensing consultancy. Melanie is devoted to helping companies and artists navigate their way through the music industry. Check out her LinkedIn profile for more articles.