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Music Rights- What to know

As a musician it is quite advantageous you know your musical rights; your right to your intellectual property. Copyright is right in action the moment a song is fixed in a digital medium.

What are music rights ?

Music rights mean any music recording masters, musical arrangements, copy rights, lyrics, song titles, artwork, graphics, song rights, or other forms of music related intellectual property rights be it exclusive or non exclusive basis.

Music license

Simply put, music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted music.

Music rights are intended to protect the original recording of an artist, publisher or a record label.

Who owns the right to music?

Recording Rights are owned by the record label whereas Composition rights are owned by the publisher. In certain cases, an artist can retain rights to their own recording.

Types of Copyrighted works

When a Song is recorded, two works are protected by copyright which are musical Work and sound recording. These are subject to different rules and are owned and licensed separately.

  • Musical Work

Musical works are a song’s underlying composition accompanied with lyrics and usually created by a songwriter or composer.

  • Sound Recording

Sound recording is a series of musical words and sounds fixed in a recording medium such as CD, or a phonorecord produced by the producer, musical performer or any other personality involved in the recording. With this the music right is limited to digital streaming.

Forms of music right

  • Master License

A master license is a type of music right in which the music right is entitled to the owner of the song; whether the artists or record label (music group) according to the contractual agreement of no the type of record deal.

  • Public Performance License

This type of right or license deals with the use of a recording in public places like bars, TV shows, restaurants, comedy all the way to public concerts where the artist is present. Performing Rights Organisations(PRO’s) such as BMI and SESAC five out music royalty to artists based on their presence on stage.

  • Print License/ Print Right License

Print license is the license or right applied on a physical copy of a sheet music created by an artist. It is applied any time sheet music is printed. Print license is issued anytime a third party wants to reproduce or distribute sheet music or it’s lyrics. This license is used mostly by producers, music teachers ad many others.

  • Synchronization License

This is a type of license is also called “sync license” applied when a song is paired with a visual media for various purpose such as commercials, TV shows and a lot more.

  • Mechanical License

Mechanical License is a type of license needed to produce a physical copy of an artist’s work or the right needed to make a cover of a song of an artist or record label which includes remixing, addition of different lyrics or altering any portion of the recording of the artist which would affect the overall integrity of the artist.

  • Blanket License

Blanket license is a type of license that allows a person to use a large catalog of music from different copyright holders for a specific venue or work.

  • Theatrical License

This is a type of copyright license commonly used in the theatre industry and applied anytime a portion of the song is used in acting or music form in a theatre in the presence of an audience.

written by Ruth Ama Onumah


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