The ABC’s of Music Copyright

The ABC’s of Music Copyright

As an artist, it is important to know the basic concepts when it comes to copyrights. Why? Not only are they legal mechanisms by which artists and songwriters protect their intellectual property, but they are one of the sources of income for their artwork. 

Throughout time, multiple record labels, and artists have been sued or accused of plagiarism respecting the work of smaller creators or unauthorized use (copying, distributing, performing…) of protected ones.

Today, we will go through some of the basics for all the DIY artists that need insight on how to protect their work in the future. So first of all, what is copyright in music?

Copyright is the legal safeguard for artists. In other words, it is the protection that allows creators to exclusively control the use of their original work. Moreover, it is one of the sources of income for artists, Not only do they receive royalty payments but they can sell their rights. For example, Justin Bieber recently sold part of his recorded and publishing music catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Captial for over 200 million dollars.

In music, there are various types of copyright. Before explaining the general types, we must highlight that the legal framework varies depending on the country in which your music is registered, so be sure to know the specific laws in your jurisdiction.

1. Composition Copyright

The rights of a songwriter or composer of a musical work are referred to as composition copyrights. This copyright covers the lyrics and musical composition of the song or artwork.  A music publisher or a record label may also be the owner of the composition copyright, but it is typically owned by the person who wrote the song.

2. Sound Recording Copyright

The ownership of a recorded performance of a musical work is covered by this copyright. This copyright applies to the precise recording of a song, including the performance, production, and engineering. The record company or the recording artist typically hold the copyright to a sound recording. That is to say that the record label or producer has the exclusive right to control the reproduction and distribution of that recording.

In the digital era, sound recording copyright has become even more important as music consumption on streaming platforms such as Spotify has increasingly grown. This way, record labels and artists can adequately control the use of their recordings and guarantee they are fairly compensated for their work. Plus, the influence of AI in the creation of music with no copyright is revolutionizing the industry.

3. Performance Copyright

A performance copyright refers to the rights of the performer of a musical work. This copyright covers the live performance of a song, whether it’s in a concert, a club, or any other venue. The performance copyright is usually owned by the artist who performs the songs.

Tips for artists in music Copyright

1.Register your copyright: As soon as you create a piece of music, you have a copyright in that work. However, registering your copyright can provide additional legal protection and benefits.


2. Understand your rights: Your work can be protected and you can make sure you are fairly compensated for its use if you are aware of these rights and how they apply to your music.


3. Obtain proper licenses: You must secure the necessary licenses or permits if you want to use someone else’s copyrighted content in your music, such as a sample or a cover song. If you don’t, you risk legal trouble and financial penalties.


4. Keep good records: Keep detailed track of your music, including when it was created, who contributed to it, and any licenses or permissions you obtained for using copyrighted material. This can help you defend your copyright if someone else tries to use your work without permission.


5. Consider working with a music attorney: A music attorney can help you navigate the complex world of music copyright and ensure that you are properly protecting your work and receiving fair compensation for its use.


6. Stay informed about copyright law and best practices: Copyright law is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date on changes and best practices can help you protect your work and avoid legal issues. Attend seminars, read articles, and consult with experts to stay informed.

Overall, a solid understanding of music copyrights is essential in the development and success of any successful music career. However, there are other ways to obtain an income from your creative work, so be sure to check out our or blog “Monetization opportunities for musicians” and stay in tune for future tips.


Post a Comment