Watch this video for a pretty solid education about music publishing – that is how your songs (not the recordings you make) make you money.
It’s very good.
And when you’ve watched it you can do yourself another favour.
As an unsigned or indie musician, there are 2 great companies that offer a great music publishing service. In the UK you should look at Sentric Music – they will, in fact, collect your royalties worldwide and you don’t need to be UK based to join. Their service is free to join and they only take a small percentage of the royalties they collect.
They have a great article on the basics of music publishing here as well.
And then in the US, check out Song Trust. Their model requires an annual fee instead of a share of royalties.
Both companies are great options for new and unsigned bands – they offer short term deals and they take no ownership of your songs so you are free to go and do a deal with a larger publisher should that day come.
Oh, and they can be trusted!