Music Rights 101

SEPT 21 2022

Written by Bridger

A short lesson on the functioning of musician rights in partnership with Bridger.

As an artist, you’re probably very busy making music, but it’s important to master other things to turn your sounds into gold, such as music rights. Why? They’re what’s giving you money when you share the music you create. In short, the better you know your rights, the better your chances of generating financial revenues. To help you out, we prepared this short lesson on how music rights function, in Europe and the USA.

Copyright & Master rights in Europe

Within the 27 member countries of the European Union, similar laws are implemented to protect musicians. They guarantee that two types of rights are linked to a track to protect its creators and/or performers - copyright and master rights.

Copyright

In Europe, copyright protect the lyrics and the composition of a track, so they guarantee that the people that owe them - lyricists, composers, and editors if the former two decide to get one - gain revenues when their property is exploited.

Such authority over their property translates into two “sub-rights” - moral rights and patrimonial rights.

Moral rights cannot be sold, they say that the author of the lyrics and/or composition decides how and when the track comes out, how their name is credited on any creation that uses their work, and whether someone else can use their work (e.g. sampling).

Patrimonial rights can be sold (typically to an editor) and might be of higher interest to you, as they define the perimeter within which the music authors are paid. They say they are the only ones that can decide how and where their track can be commercialized, let it be via a physical product such as a CD, as well as any performance of the music.

To get their copyright royalties, their owners must subscribe to an institution that has the authority, and the capability, to collect them for them.

New actors that are Independent Management Entities (IMEs) can do so through their partnerships with streaming platforms. For example, Bridger collects your copyright in exchange for 10% of your revenues, but with zero subscription or yearly fees, in order to only ask you to give money once you actually make some.

More institutional and historical actors that are Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) - like the SACEM in France, the Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori in Italy (SIAE), or the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores in Spain (SGAE) - can also assist you in collecting your copyright when your tracks are played on television, radio, and public spaces in general (e.g. clubs). You have to pay both subscription fees, yearly fees, and extra fees on your royalties depending on how much and where your music is played.

Master rights

In Europe, master rights protect the recording of a track, so they guarantee that the people that participate in them - singers, musicians, other artists present on the master (all known as performers), and producers if the former decide to get one - gain revenues when their master is exploited.

Again, such authority over their property translates into two “sub-rights” - moral rights and patrimonial rights. Their principles are basically the same as for copyright.

Moral rights (which cannot be sold) focus on whether the performance’s and artists’ names’ integrity are respected when they’re used, e.g. the right to authorize, or forbid, that a TV program broadcasts a video extract of their last concert.

Patrimonial rights give rights owners the capacity to authorize, or not, the recording, reproduction, or any communication to the public of their master, as well as other exploitations (e.g. movie trailers and ringtones).

If you are not with a producer (also called a label), you probably use digital distributors like DistroKid or TuneCore to share your music online, and those are the people that take care of collecting your master royalties, generally in exchange for regular subscription fees. If you are signed, your producer takes care of it all, preferably after you’ve double-checked your contract with a lawyer.

Copyright & Master rights in the USA

Copyright

In the United States, there are also copyright, but they protect the people that financed the creation of the track, meaning not necessarily the creators of the music themselves, but rather their producers. The copyright holder is the only one with the right to reproduce and broadcast the track, as well as to authorize derivative works - capacities which are roughly equivalent to the European patrimonial rights since he/she makes money from the music by signing such authorizations.

However, copyright is composed of: 1/ performing rights which are the rights to perform music in public and 2/ mechanical rights which are the rights to reproduce a piece of music onto CDs, DVDs, records or tapes… Each is managed by its own institution, when both are handled by CMOs in Europe: performing royalties are collected by Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) - like BMI or ASCAP - and mechanical royalties are managed by Rights Administration Entities (RAEs), such as the Harry Fox Agency or Music Reports, or Mechanical Rights Organizations (MROs).

Master rights

There are no master rights in the US, as the people that work on the recording are considered “employees” by contract: music rights in the US are more based on private contracts, not national laws.

Conclusion

If you’ve been creating music that you registered in Europe and wish to distribute in the US, no worries. You don’t need to go through a whole new process as your creations are already protected. If you’ve been registering your music in the US, own its copyright, and are about to distribute it in Europe, take the time to deposit your music in your name at your local CMO.

In both cases, don’t forget to claim your copyright from streaming, as it’s probably where your largest audience is at. To do so, you can sign up to Bridger in a few minutes and let their team take care of you if you have any questions.

© Miutifin.
© Miutifin.

Music Rights 101

SEPT 21 2022

Written by Bridger

A short lesson on the functioning of musician rights in partnership with Bridger.

As an artist, you’re probably very busy making music, but it’s important to master other things to turn your sounds into gold, such as music rights. Why? They’re what’s giving you money when you share the music you create. In short, the better you know your rights, the better your chances of generating financial revenues. To help you out, we prepared this short lesson on how music rights function, in Europe and the USA.

Copyright & Master rights in Europe

Within the 27 member countries of the European Union, similar laws are implemented to protect musicians. They guarantee that two types of rights are linked to a track to protect its creators and/or performers - copyright and master rights.

Copyright

In Europe, copyright protect the lyrics and the composition of a track, so they guarantee that the people that owe them - lyricists, composers, and editors if the former two decide to get one - gain revenues when their property is exploited.

Such authority over their property translates into two “sub-rights” - moral rights and patrimonial rights.

Moral rights cannot be sold, they say that the author of the lyrics and/or composition decides how and when the track comes out, how their name is credited on any creation that uses their work, and whether someone else can use their work (e.g. sampling).

Patrimonial rights can be sold (typically to an editor) and might be of higher interest to you, as they define the perimeter within which the music authors are paid. They say they are the only ones that can decide how and where their track can be commercialized, let it be via a physical product such as a CD, as well as any performance of the music.

To get their copyright royalties, their owners must subscribe to an institution that has the authority, and the capability, to collect them for them.

New actors that are Independent Management Entities (IMEs) can do so through their partnerships with streaming platforms. For example, Bridger collects your copyright in exchange for 10% of your revenues, but with zero subscription or yearly fees, in order to only ask you to give money once you actually make some.

More institutional and historical actors that are Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) - like the SACEM in France, the Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori in Italy (SIAE), or the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores in Spain (SGAE) - can also assist you in collecting your copyright when your tracks are played on television, radio, and public spaces in general (e.g. clubs). You have to pay both subscription fees, yearly fees, and extra fees on your royalties depending on how much and where your music is played.

Master rights

In Europe, master rights protect the recording of a track, so they guarantee that the people that participate in them - singers, musicians, other artists present on the master (all known as performers), and producers if the former decide to get one - gain revenues when their master is exploited.

Again, such authority over their property translates into two “sub-rights” - moral rights and patrimonial rights. Their principles are basically the same as for copyright.

Moral rights (which cannot be sold) focus on whether the performance’s and artists’ names’ integrity are respected when they’re used, e.g. the right to authorize, or forbid, that a TV program broadcasts a video extract of their last concert.

Patrimonial rights give rights owners the capacity to authorize, or not, the recording, reproduction, or any communication to the public of their master, as well as other exploitations (e.g. movie trailers and ringtones).

If you are not with a producer (also called a label), you probably use digital distributors like DistroKid or TuneCore to share your music online, and those are the people that take care of collecting your master royalties, generally in exchange for regular subscription fees. If you are signed, your producer takes care of it all, preferably after you’ve double-checked your contract with a lawyer.

Copyright & Master rights in the USA

Copyright

In the United States, there are also copyright, but they protect the people that financed the creation of the track, meaning not necessarily the creators of the music themselves, but rather their producers. The copyright holder is the only one with the right to reproduce and broadcast the track, as well as to authorize derivative works - capacities which are roughly equivalent to the European patrimonial rights since he/she makes money from the music by signing such authorizations.

However, copyright is composed of: 1/ performing rights which are the rights to perform music in public and 2/ mechanical rights which are the rights to reproduce a piece of music onto CDs, DVDs, records or tapes… Each is managed by its own institution, when both are handled by CMOs in Europe: performing royalties are collected by Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) - like BMI or ASCAP - and mechanical royalties are managed by Rights Administration Entities (RAEs), such as the Harry Fox Agency or Music Reports, or Mechanical Rights Organizations (MROs).

Master rights

There are no master rights in the US, as the people that work on the recording are considered “employees” by contract: music rights in the US are more based on private contracts, not national laws.

Conclusion

If you’ve been creating music that you registered in Europe and wish to distribute in the US, no worries. You don’t need to go through a whole new process as your creations are already protected. If you’ve been registering your music in the US, own its copyright, and are about to distribute it in Europe, take the time to deposit your music in your name at your local CMO.

In both cases, don’t forget to claim your copyright from streaming, as it’s probably where your largest audience is at. To do so, you can sign up to Bridger in a few minutes and let their team take care of you if you have any questions.

© Miutifin.
© Miutifin.