As an artist, it's important to understand the proper procedures to ensure the protection of your creations. The first in a list of protection is to copyright your work. There are a number of ways to do this, most of which are incorrect, so the artist must be mindful of this when seeking to protect their work.
WHAT IS A COPYRIGHT?
By definition, a copyright is the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator (which would be you, the artist) for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film or record literary, artistic or musical material.
WHY SHOULD I COPYRIGHT MY WORK?
Well, BY LAW, if your work has no copyright, it's not your work. I know it sounds crazy but I don't make the rules, I'm just here to explain to you how it works. Let's say you wrote a song, you submitted the song for radio play or whatever and it didn't do well on the charts. A few years later you hear your song on the radio, only it's not you singing your song. somebody else is singing your song, probably better than you. The radio station stations have the song in rotation and its a hit. So you lodge a complaint saying that somebody took your song, how are you gonna prove it ? If you didn't copyright YOUR song, you have no proof, therefore you have no argument, therefore it's not your song, simple as that.
HOW AND WHERE DO I COPYRIGHT MY MUSIC?
Now this here seems to be a debatable topic as there may seem to be many ways to copyright your music, most are just makeshift alternatives that I personally don't recommend. Almost everybody knows about the POOR MAN'S COPYRIGHT, where you physically mail a copy of the song to yourself via certified mail and keep it sealed. The postmark on your envelope is supposed to date your music. Another is what folks call the youtube method, you just upload to youtube or another time-stamped social media outlet and your music is automatically dated, therefore protected. All of this may seem logical, but in a court of law, music registered with the copyright office holds the most precedence.
Please note that while you can register online with the copyright office, there are a number of websites posing as copyright registration sites, so the artist must be able to differentiate, otherwise you'd only be wasting money. Beware of websites who say things like "$99 and register as many songs as you like for one full year", or "register 1-4 songs for 4 years for $35". Most of those copyrights only last as long as you can keep paying, so when your subscription to the site ends, so does your copyright registration. In my research I've found that as a musician, the safest place to copyright your music is with the Library Of Congress. You can do so online at https://www.copyright.gov/registration/index.html and thank me later.
HOW LONG DOES A COPYRIGHT LAST?
If created after 1977, a published work is copyrighted till 70 years AFTER its author's death. This only applies if your work was registered under the proper copyright authority, the artist should be mindful of websites offering short term copyright registration.