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The Music Biz

The Music Biz

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 • BeatsBySwiss.com

There are two general rights covered in a music copyright: the authorship of a song and the ownership of a song. According to Copyright Law, the writer is the natural owner of every song they write until ownership is assigned to someone else. Every song is made up of two equal parts; not the lyrics and the melody but the writer share and the publisher share.


Often the process of registering a copyright is what comes to mind when people hear the term copyright. However, songs are automatically copyrighted as soon as they are in tangible form, even recorded at home or simply written down. Copyrighted songs have to be original (not copies of another piece) and significant enough to constitute a work. Copyrighting work (getting it in tangible form) not only protects it from being copied or used by unauthorized parties but also is the first step to publishing material and ultimately being paid for it.

Once a work is copyrighted the owner has the exclusive rights to:

1. Reproduce the work
2. Distribute copies of the work
3. Perform the work publicly
4. Make a derivative work.

It also means no one else can do these things without express consent.

It's a fairly common practice among independent artists to mail their work to themselves then keep the unopened letter with its dated postmark as proof of the date the copyright became effective.

Songs registered with the Copyright Office at The Library of Congress will have the maximum protection under copyright law should a dispute arise. Songs should be registered prior to being available to the general public (posting them on Myspace for example) or commercialization of the work.
Once an artist is signed by a label the sound recordings are often times copyrighted by the record company and the song copyrights are often held by the music publishers.

Publishing Companies

There are two general rights covered in a music copyright: the authorship of a song and the ownership of a song. According to Copyright Law, the writer is the natural owner of every song they write until ownership is assigned to someone else. Every song is made up of two equal parts; not the lyrics and the melody but the writer share and the publisher share.
The writer share is semi-sacred. It represents the authorship of the song. While a copyright can change hands many times; the writer share remains the property of the author.
The other fifty percent, the publisher share, is the equitable share. It is what you can sell or buy. In this context it is known as the "copyright". When a publisher acquires a copyright, it is acquiring the publisher share.


The Publisher controls the writers share. The publisher licenses mechanical , print and synch rights on behalf of itself and the writer. These royalties and fees are collected by the publisher (the owner of the copyright) for both the publisher share and the writer share. It is the publisher's responsibility to pay the writer. Performance royalties are the only royalty type where the writer can collect his writer royalties directly from the performing rights organization. Control means the publisher has the right to negotiate and execute all licenses.


In music publishing, exploitation is a good  term. Writers want their songs exploited. Landing a song in a film or television show is an exploitation; somebody recording your song is an exploitation; releasing a record is an exploitation. When a writer's song becomes part of a greatest hits package down the line - that's an exploitation. An exploited song that is licensed and registered opens revenue streams.
Royalties don't just magically show up in your mailbox; It is the result of the publisher executing licenses and filing the proper registrations.


The writer or their music publisher registers their songs with a performing rights organization (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC) to get the song details in their database so the correct percentages of performance royalties can be attributed and paid to the correct party.
The music publisher registers their writer's songs with a "local" publisher in a foreign territory so they can, in turn, register the songs with their local mechanical and performing rights societies (society being a fancy term for foreign mechanical and performing rights organizations) so the correct percentages of foreign mechanical royalties and the publishers side of performance royalties are attributed and paid to the correct party.


The music publisher doesn't sell songs to another artist to record or to be used on a TV show or film- they license it. There are four primary licenses: Mechanical Licenses, Public Performance Licenses, Synchronization Licenses, and Print Licenses (Read Previous articles for more info on Licenses).

Functions of a Music Publisher


Secures copyrights, controls copyrights, executes a variety of licenses, causes songs to be registered with a variety of organizations and societies world-wide, collects royalties, disburses royalties, and more.

Creative Services

The Creative exploitation of copyrights or causing songs to be exploited by pitching songs to other artists and securing placements in Film, TV and commercials; networking and promoting its writers (further explanation invites a whole blog topic in itself)
Publishers are often able to provide critical funding in the form of advances against your future royalties and by covering the costs of recording demos of your songs.

Self Publishing

Some songwriters elect to keep their publishing rights and royalties by setting up their own publishing company. It is possible for an artist to keep their publishing rights and simply hire a third party to handle the publishing related administration. If an artist decides to set up their own publishing company they will need to register their affiliation with ASCAP , BMI or SESAC.
Swiss Boy

For Beats go to http://beatsbyswiss.com



Monday, March 7, 2011 • BSR Admin

There have been six fundamental changes to the music industry that have revolutionized and transformed the business.

Originally posted in: TUNECORE | Written by: Jeff Price
There have been six fundamental changes to the music industry that have revolutionized and transformed the business. It is vital that artists are fully aware of these changes in order to make the most money and pursue their passion on their own terms.
These six changes are:
  1. Music fans now buy and listen to music from digital music stores and services.
  2. There is unlimited shelf space where everything can be in stock at no detriment to anything else.
  3. For no up front cost, there is unlimited inventory always available on demand as a perfect digital copy.
  4. With the launch of TuneCore, there is no gatekeeper to placing a song on Apple, Amazon's etc store or hard drive.
  5. Distribution of a release is now global and not restricted to just one country.
  6. Artists can market directly to their fans.
With these changes, gone are the days of needing to be able to negotiate a label and/or distributor deal agreement (provided you were lucky enough to get one).
Instead, with self-distribution and access to marketing, the artist is now: The Label, The Performer, The Publisher and The Songwriter. While wearing all of these "four hats" at once, artists are now uniquely positioned to profit from the best possible contractual distribution terms and highest revenue generation via the sale, use, or streaming of their music. The challenge is that many artists don't know what these rights are, or how to collect the money they've earned from these revenue streams. A comprehensive, streamlined, and completely inclusive infrastructure does not yet exist that enables every artist who is owed money to easily collect it. However, there are solutions out there for artists, and it's imperative that you understand these.
The entire music industry is built on six legal copyrights.
The six copyrights are:
  • Reproduction
  • Derivatives & Samples
  • Public Display
  • Public Performance
  • Distribution
  • Digital Transmission
For a more detailed explanation of each one, please download or read the free TuneCore Music Industry Survival Manual: How Not To Get Screwed: The Six Legal Rights That Drive The Music Business
Money is made from music by either selling, licensing or using it -the sale of the music is the one that gets talked about the most.
The others also generate a LOT of money for artists, performers and songwriters. This money is made based on the USE of music as opposed to just the SALE of the music - in other words, music does not necessarily have to be sold to make the artist, songwriter, performer and label money. Much of the money from these six copyrights is collected by entities located on every continent around the world called Performing Rights Organizations (PROs). PROs tend to be not-for-profit or government controlled and/or mandated. Their function is to collect and distribute money owed to songwriters, labels and performers. The amount of money the writers are paid comes from federal laws in those countries that mandate entities MUST pay them for the USE of music.
This has become increasingly important now that the music industry is global - with one click your music can be distributed, sold, shared, tracked and marketed around the world.
As one example, unless the songwriter agrees not to be paid, every single time a song is streamed legally for free on the Internet, money is owed to the songwriter. This money is paid to the PROs and sits there waiting to be claimed.
As another, every single time a song is played on the radio (either via the Internet or broadcast from an AM/FM transmitter tower) the songwriter, label and performer must get paid. As an interesting twist, and to make a point, there is an exception to this rule - everywhere in the world the songwriter, performer and label get paid when a song is played on AM/FM radio EXCEPT for the United States. In the U.S., only the songwriter gets paid. This means from radio play, there is money sitting in other parts of the world with a PRO for the label and performer. If the label and performer are based in the U.S., they are not able to collect this money UNLESS there is someone in another country working on behalf of them to collect it.
As yet another example, if you are a U.S.-based band and you write your own songs and use TuneCore to distribute your music into another country like iTunes Japan, each time your music sells in Japan, iTunes pays the Japanese PRO money for the "reproduction" of your song. This money is in addition to the money iTunes pays for the sale of the song. This money sits with the PRO until it is collected by the songwriter/publisher. After a certain period of time, if it is not collected, it is given to other members of the PRO.
It is vital for you to know about all of these potential revenue streams and how to collect on them around the world.

Major Artist Initiatives in 2011

I view it as TuneCore's job to go into the world on behalf of its artists and help them plug into and collect all the money that exists for them. This is a major initiative for us in 2011. Over the next 90 days, we will be providing significant news and updates on how we intend on doing this for this new industry.
Also, in the next 45 days or so, we are rolling out a new accounting system that allows for even more transparency down to the one trillionth of a penny as well as even more advanced custom sales reports and free access to iTunes trending data.
A major education initiative is also being undertaken to provide the knowledge and information every artist should know. To that end, we will continue to post a large amount of specific information on the blog as well as create more PDF booklets for free download. George Howard (former President of Rykodisc, current professor at Loyola) and I are embarking on a series of free to attend multi-hour seminars discussing in-depth the nuances and information around the six legal copyrights.
If you are attending South By Southwest, please make certain to join us for a free two and half hour seminar on:
The Six Legal Copyrights:
Friday March 18
2:00 - 4:30 PM
Room 8 (Third Floor)
Austin Convention Center
The power of TuneCore Artists is now unquestionable - they have sold over 300 million songs via paid download or stream over the past 2 ½ years and have transformed the industry. Artists today not only can take the power and control into their own hands, but they must do so. This does not mean that you must go it alone; there are resources that you can avail yourself of in order to create and succeed on your own terms. It is our mission to continue to work with you to further transform the industry and provides these resources. Only by setting it free can the industry grow to its full potential.
Stay tuned for the next transformation...

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