Getting Your Due: What You Need to Understand About Music Ownership

Have you ever wondered what happens when you get noticed by a label and agree to begin working with them? Understanding who has the rights to a piece of music and who gets paid when that music is played is critical for anyone looking to get their fair share of the profit if their music hits the mainstream.

Master Copyright vs. Composition Copyright

When looking at how copyrights are distributed for songs, it’s important to understand that two different kinds of copyrights are issued for any piece of recorded music.

The master rights are associated with the end product of a recording. Depending on the parameters of any record deal you reach with a label, these rights will likely be shared, and how they’re shared can have a significant impact on how royalty payments are distributed down the line.

Composition rights cover elements of the song like melody, harmony, and lyrics. These kinds of rights come in handy if your song is sampled by another artist or informs a considerable portion of another artist’s songwriting.

Thanks to disputes like the one between Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun, more attention has been brought to the convoluted issue of who owns a song. Working with an entertainment lawyer can help save you from similar battles later on. For some lawyers like John Branca, a considerable portion of their practice is helping artists regain the rights to their music.

Different Kinds of Royalties

Once a song has been written and recorded, it’s ready for distribution. How and where the song is played affects which kind of royalty it’s covered under, and different kinds of royalties pay different individuals and groups depending on who owns the rights to the composition and master. Knowing where your music is likely to be played will help you understand how to best negotiate your portion of royalties.

Modern technology has made it easier than ever to get exposure to your music, but knowing how to profit from it is still challenging. Grasping the basics of copyright and royalties is a great place to start to get yourself in a good position before your name goes up in lights.

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