Copyrights for Musicians 101
As a singer-songwriter, you own your music. It’s YOUR intellectual property and that might seem obvious but it's worth repeating: YOU control the copyright to all of those songs written or recorded by yourself – not record companies!
This gives you leverage when trying to make money off your catalogs because you can negotiate pricing with labels on an individual level rather than as part of one whole group. Claiming the ownership of what is essentially your, shifts the power to you when bargaining the terms with record label companies at the time to make money.
What Does Copyright Mean?
Copyright protects the rights of creators to produce and sell their work.
The right to earn money from your music is one of the most important copyright protections. This “exploiting” process means finding ways that people can earn from what they’ve created, which in this case would be a song or album.
If you record something, rent a studio and pay them for the duration of your recording, you are the owner of that recording. Working with a label usually means that they would take control of the copyrights of the recording or sound, even for a little while.
When you collaborate with other people, everyone must agree on the split of ownership for any contributions they make. To do this legally in most cases requires registering your copyright and making sure each person who collaborated has their own portion determined by how much time was spent working together - either hourly or daily rate basis. That’s how most of the bands in Europe or North America work.
Music Copyright: Types
There are a couple of ways a music recording can be copyrighted as.
- Music Composition: this includes the songwriting as well as the music
- Music Recording: this includes the lyrics and music as in the final recording
Songwriters and publishers are usually the ones who own compositions, while artists or labels may own sound recordings.
At What Point Are you the Owner of your Music
As soon as you capture your music in a fixed medium, it's copyright protected. This could be anything from writing out the melody on paper for an instrumental song all alone without any vocals to recording yourself singing into a DAW (digital audio workstation) with no other instruments present - just vocals!
What’s the Point of Registering My Copyright?
When you notice your content has been plagiarized or misused and it's done so publicly on social media or otherwise, the first thing that might come into play would be to take legal action against those who are taking advantage of this situation. But this is only possible if you registered the copyright of your work when you first created it.
In order to be taken seriously in court, you need registered work. It's the only way that will carry more weightage than links to Soundcloud or YouTube.
How Can I Register Copyright for my Music
Directly registering your copyright with the United States Government is a complicated process, but if you use Cosynd they handle all of the legal processing for you. Cosynd is a user-friendly system that makes registering your copyright much easier than going through the long process of directly submitting information to the Copyright Office.
Cosynd is the best option for those who have a lot of songs they want to register. It's also 20% the price of similar services, so it will never break your budget!
Following is the information that Cosynd collects to process the copyright:
- Legal names along with nationalities of all of the members involved
- Legal names and addresses of all the authors of the copyright
- Release date, and the country of origin where the copyright was released
- Recording files and lyrics in case of registering the copyright for the composition
In just a few questions, Cosynd can help you get your registrations filed. You won't need to learn about the different application types ahead of time.
Does Age Matter When Registering Copyright?
Whether you're a pro or just starting out, there's no age requirement to copyright your music. However while federal law governs copyrights in America the vast majority of transactions involving these rights happen at the state level with different regulations applying depending on where one lives, and these can vary greatly between jurisdictions.
How is Money Made from Music Recording
The recording artist has ultimate control of their master rights and can grant licenses for any usage. Royalty payments from the granting of these licenses include streaming income associated with platforms like Spotify, Amazon Music, or Deezer among others that may host your song on streamable services such as Apple Radio.
With sync licensing and sampling of your recording, you can grant permissions for a variety of uses.
Inside the US, radio play will earn you royalties when your track is played on digital or satellite radios. Outside of our borders though? You’re owed royalty fees just for having a song broadcast over a regular old-fashioned FM broadcast.
What is the Purpose of Registring Composition Copyright?
To make money from their songs, musicians should register the copyright and then exploit it by selling tickets or merchandise.
The process of exploiting a musical work means doing something with that song so as to get paid for writing/producing them in accordance with what was originally recorded on paper. Exploiting is in itself a negative term, but as far as the music industry goes, it means the money you make from the hard work you put into your music.
As an artist, whenever your track gets stream time on any platform, you’re due its publishing royalties. Whenever your song is played on the radio, covered in public, or played in a café, you’re owed performance royalties for it.
As an artist it is better to pair up with such a PRO (Performing Rights Organization), that can help you collect this royalty.
The function of a PRO is to be on the lookout for any platform (radio, public venues, etc) for your music and generate and collect a performance royalty owed to you.
Using music for commercial purposes is a great way to make some money, but it can be hard without the right knowledge. It is extremely important to register copyright in your respective region. Luckily there are services out there such as Influencive Media that will help you navigate this complicated world o