Music Publishing for Beginners

Welcome back to Melosity’s Music Publishing blog for beginners! 

Every week, Melosity discuss different aspects within the business of music publishing to help you understand the topic a bit better. Last week, Melosity discussed what exactly is copyright and how us songwriters can copyright our own creations. If you haven’t checked out last week’s blog yet, you can read it here. This week, we focus on two different types of copyright within a song, the 1) Song and 2) Master Recording copyright.

In general, copyright is the foundation of the music business industry. It is absolutely crucial to copyright your material to fully protect and monetize your work. As a reminder, you can only guarantee copyright as long as the songwriter expresses their intangible creation as a physical entity i.e., CD recording of a song or lyrics on paper.

As songwriters, we know much more goes into the final version of a piece of music. Not only must we consider the lyrical/musical aspect of the song, but also the recorded presentation of the music. This means that the song and the recording are both entitled to intellectual property rights and the ability to earn revenue. Therefore, we must split the song and recording into two individual copyrights. These two forms of copyright are the Song Copyright and the Master Recording Copyright.

1) Song Copyright

This is the lyrics and music within the song. Usually, the lyrics and music are of equal value, given 50% of rights each. Once the songwriter has transferred their original creation into a tangible form, the piece of music fully belongs to them. The songwriter can assign this copyright to a music publisher, who exploits their music in return for royalties and synch deals. In Ireland, IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation) collect revenue (performance royalties) for public performances of a song on behalf of the songwriter or publisher.

2) Master Recording Copyright

This is the physical recording of a song. Whoever (usually the record label) has arranged and paid for the recording session owns this copyright. It must be remembered that many different people can record the same song, resulting in the production of multiple master recording copyrights. Every time the particular song recording is played, a royalty is generated. In Ireland, PPI (Phonographic Performance Ireland) collect revenue (mechanical royalties) for song recording performances on behalf of Irish record labels.


Thats all for now. In essence, this information is absolutely VITAL for any songwriter, musician, artist, you name it. Melosity encourages you to sit down, learn this information and maybe investigate the topic a little deeper. Make sure you keep updated and check back for Melosity’s music publishing blog next week.



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