Music royalties 20 tips on music royalties and the licensing of copyrighted songs and recordings

Music royalties

Music royalties and copyright are the music industry’s currency. Although the concept of copyright and music royalties might appear straightforward, in fact the development and adjustments of music copyright, and licensing systems has changed significantly over the years. And although much of the traditional legal framework is still in place the music industry has and is undergoing significant changes.

Booking agent contracts

Booking agent contracts

Music royalties and copyright are both complex and important. It has stopped law suits, and has also started many. Record labels, publishers, and the artists we know and love would not exist without it.

Indeed, it is difficult to overstate the importance of copyright and music royalties to the music industry. Not only should managers and artists understand how it works, they should consider continuously updating, and broadening their knowledge as it develops; particularly as a result of the rise of digital music.

The following 20 tips are a short review of the various ways to exploit music copyright, including but not limited to the licensing of the following:

1. The recorded melody and song.

2. The written melody and song (including the arrangement, hook, chords).

3. The different contributions to the melody and song (i.e. the bass player, guitarist and/or pianist, the drums and percussions).

4. The recorded vocals.

5. The recorded vocals added to the song (including the hook, verses and chorus).

6. The marketing of the finished track. How it is marketed?

7. Who is allowed to use the finished song with or without vocals?

8. Who can perform the song?

9. Who can use the artist’s images?

10. In what media can the song be made available?

11. Can the song be viewed in a TV commercial?

12. Can it be used as part of a video (e.g. You Tube)?

13. Can  it be used as a ringtone?

14. Can the song be sampled?

15. Is a mash up of the song permitted?

16. Can the song be remixed without permission?

17. Can the arrangement of the song be changed without permission?

18. Can it be streamed or downloaded?

19. Can the song be made available for friends to stream and download?

20. Can a legitimately purchased song be transferred to different devices for personal use?

In-fact, there are no bars to finding new and innovative ways to exploit copyright. The only limit is your business imagination and acumen.

Copyright related cases and articles

Music Copyright

In conclusion, copyright and music royalties are the music industry’s currency because the law of a country grants certain rights to the creator which all law-abiding citizens agree represents a certain value. The emergence of new technologies is allowing businesses of all sizes to exploit a new set of options that are improving profitability for those willing to evolve with the times.

The most important factor in unlocking the value of copyright is in clearly defining the opportunities and issues that may arise in your deals and contracts. Getting this right is the key differentiator between success and failure in a musician’s or music organisation’s strategy.



To book a face to face consultation for commercial legal advice you should contact a specialist music solicitor (charge rates may apply and may vary).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top