The Basics of Music Rights and Data – and Why It’s Important

Music copyright and data might not be the first thing you have in mind when working with your music and making it available to the public. Agreeing on the splits between your co-writers is not the most appealing part of the process, and many think data is something that we can worry about later.

It’s very understandable that music creators want to focus on their music. The song is really the starting point and the core of the music – and music business. Without a song, there’s really nothing. However, the awareness, and the basics of rights and data are areas that are more and more important for all music creators. When the song is the starting point, the rights and data are foundations for any earning opportunities from the music. When the music industry landscape is even more complex and fully digital, identifying the basics is very important.

Without a song, there's really nothing. However, the awareness, and the basics of rights and data are areas that are more and more important for all music creators.

The basic points are very simple, and they will take you surprisingly far. First, you have rights for your songs. Second, you should make sure the outside world knows that you have the rights for your music. That is the data part of the process. Obviously, there are more details connected, but simple basics can be very valuable.

Music copyright is something that you own automatically when you have created a song. You don’t need to register the songs to earn a copyright, you have rights from the creation point. Obviously, you need to register the material to get your song identified and earn money, but the ownership is automatic. There are some territorial differences with how copyrights function, but at least in the Western world, the basics are quite the same.

The music industry is organized around the structure of copyrights. The fundamentals of music copyright are performing rights and mechanical rights. The basic units of the music, on the other hand, are the song and the recording (or master recording). Song and master are independent entities. Both can be performed or copied and both have similar representation in these basic copyright areas. When you own the rights to your music, you can own rights for both the song and the recording – if you write the songs and record them yourself. When your song and recording are being listened to, performed, or sold – you earn revenue from your rights.

When you own the rights to your music, you can own rights for both the song and the recording – if you write the songs and record them yourself. When your song and recording are being listened to, performed, or sold – you earn revenue from your rights.

Copyrights are also tradable. You can make agreements with labels, publishers, PRO’s, distributors etc. In all these agreements, you are deciding on the terms for the ownership and the representation of the rights of the music. You can always make deals for your financial rights – but copyright also contains moral rights that are not tradable. Moral rights mean that you have a right to be mentioned as a creator of your music – and no one can claim to be the writer of your music.

Data is another must-have component to make sure you are remunerated for your music. Data about music is called metadata. It simply identifies what is the name of your song and the recording, who has contributed to the creation, and who owns the copyright. You can get very far when you remember that this data is always needed to connect to the music from the source – from the creation point.

There are many opportunities to get the data secured, but you should remember that you have the best knowledge about your music, the writers, and the contributors. You should consider joining a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) for your song registrations and admin, and you should get the ISRC code (International Standard Recording Code) for the release of the recording. You can create ISRCs by yourself, or they will be assigned by a label, if you have one.

Family in Music is working closely with these issues. We are focusing on providing awareness, services, and tools for new creators to secure their future rights and revenues. When the amount of music creators is growing so fast, questions about rights and data are becoming increasingly important.

Family in Music will launch during spring 2022 a data protocol that enables new music creators to create an industry ID that will help secure future revenues. It will be a starting point for the process of controlling your own music rights and data.

Stay tuned!

Cover photo by Hunter Harritt on Unsplash.

 

Useful links:
Mega-hitmaker Linda Perry (Pink, Adele, Christina Aguilera, etc) discusses her experiences in co-writing/collaboration.
Metadata in music. Details and correct information really matter!

 

Chief Commercial & Customer Officer

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