OK, I am talking copyright, royalties and possible royalty revenue streams you may not be aware of or getting.
Pre-emptive comments to this article
- If you are only a songwriter/composer (dont record) and have registered with your local works collection society (eg in Australia that is APRA-AMCOS) then this is not as relevant to you.
- If you are a singer/songwriter who records and you distribute/market all your music digitally ONLY through an aggregator like CDBaby or TuneCore or Bandcamp – then this is not as relevant to you.
However if you are either of the above, or a recording artist using others works – AND marketing your recorded work across many areas including internet radio, streaming, etc and across various countries – this IS relevant to you.
Now this is a VERY extensive topic, especially when you try and analyse what is relevant for each person – so in this article I am trying to give you the overview understanding and a couple of examples to the topic. After that you need to do further investigation on your own or contact us to help.
Let’s start with some background (in as simple a way as I can put it in this short amount of space)
There are at least two copyrights in most recordings and music videos:
- The copyright in the song (lyrics, composition etc.) ‘the work itself’ for which songwriters, composers etc may receive performing (when played) and mechanical (when someone else uses) royalties–and for which membership to collection agencies such as APRA-AMCOS (if Aus based), PPRS (UK), ASCAP (USA), etc is imperative
(Google ‘music copyright collection societies’ if different location to above)….
but THERE IS ALSO…
- The copyright in the recording and/or music video of the song (a particular recorded performance) – so the published work has its own copyright (which may be through assignment, agreement or otherwise) but which is separate from the base works themselves – and to which other membership to different collection agensies is necessary.
So, in other words…… APRA/AMCOS (and their equivalent) are musical works collecting societies – and as songwriters, composers, lyrists you need to be a member of your country’s association to collect on your works BUT for sound recording collecting you need to be registered with a different organisation (and AS WELL if you are both the song writer and recording artist).
These organisations are there to represent the interest of recording companies and recording artists – granting licences and collecting/distributing royalties ,for broadcast, communication or public playing of RECORDED MUSIC (e.g., CDs, records and digital downloads) or music videos.
Examples of where the recorded work royalties may flow from? Think –
– internet radio
– non aligned streaming services
– background music in certain venues such as cafes etc
– music video streaming sites
– music used in business
Again, remember this is separate to performing/mechanical royalties paid to the songwriter (ie. so again to try and clarify, there are potentially 2 lots of royalty payments possible).
OK So far? – Now here is where it becomes really confusing.
Your ‘works’ collecting societies (and the collection of performing rights etc) have reciprocal arrangements with most of their counterparts around the world. So the royalty payable for someone performing your song in the US will filter back through to APRA here in Australia (eventually). In other words (very simplistically), you just have to join your own country’s society and do the paperwork and things will flow AND in the case of APRA-AMCOS they can collect some of the mechanical royalties due to the songwriter/works copyright holder (eg YouTube viewing, digital download)
However – they don’t collect for the recorded work in its own right– AND those organisations do not have reciprocal rights with the works organisations OR each other!!!! So you need to be registered with which ever organisation is looks after a country where your music may be played.
Egads I hear you say – more work? Yes, but potentially more $$ in the revenue stream to you that you may be missing out on.
Which organisations am I referring to?
- If your works are played in Australia – you need to be in contact with and join PPCA.
From their website “Established in 1969, the PPCA…Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited… is a national, non government, non-profit organisation that represents the interest of record companies and Australian recording artists.
We grant licences for the broadcast, communication or public playing of recorded music (e.g., CDs, records and digital downloads) or music videos. We then distribute the licence fees we collect to the record labels and Australian recording artists registered with us, under our Distribution Policy. We work together with our licensors, being thousands of Australian recording artists and hundreds of labels both major and independent.
In fact, we currently license over 55,000 venues Australia-wide, including clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants, fitness centres, shops, halls and dance studios, and also grant licences to radio and TV stations. “
Go to http://www.ppca.com.au/ to find out more
- If your music is played in the USA (yes, you need to join them too, if your music is there as they don’t exchange information or royalties!!!) – it is SoundExchange. From an email I received – “SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), internet radio, cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. To register with us please visit http://register.soundexchange.com/welcome”
- In the UK it is PLS
- again Google searches will reveal which organisation is relevant to you if your music is playing in other countries.
More confused than before? Probably, but in a nutshell –
- If you are a songwriter/composer – be registered and register your works with your local ‘works’ collection society (in Australia APRA)
- If you are a recording artist/label be registered with the sound recording society in every country your music is playing
- Note: again it is not mutually exclusive!!!! Most people need to be with both!! (only those recording covers only – or only songwriters who don’t record – will be with one or the other)
OK the topic has now been raised – it’s now up to you to investigate further, understand what is relevant to you and register where and with who is relevant to you.
(and yes, if it helps, under our business advisory service we can be of assistance in working through this with you)