The Rocky Road of Royalties

Even non-musicians have heard the moaning and groaning about the rocky world of royalties. As if sync & performance royalties weren't stressful enough - Streaming royalties enter, stage left. How do we break all of this down & make sure we are getting what we deserve?
First, let's do a quick backtrack & highlight on music copyright, which then segueways into the breakdown of royalties and who is lawfully entitled to being paid. There are two sides of music copyrights: master rights and publishing rights. If you have one, both or a percentage of these rights, you will receive royalties. Then, there are the types of royalties. These are broken down into four basic categories. Thus being: Mechanical, Sync, Performance and Print Music.music_royalties.jpg

Where do the differences lie between mechanical and performance royalties? "BMI royalties are performing right royalties, which are earned when a musical work is performed publicly. Public performance occurs when a song is sung or played, recorded or live, on radio and television, as well as through other media such as the Internet, live concerts and programmed music services. BMI grants licenses to perform, use or broadcast music from its extensive repertoire to hundreds of thousands of users of music in public places, such as radio and tv stations, hotels, clubs, colleges, restaurants, stores, and more. The “mechanical” right is the right to reproduce a piece of music onto CDs, DVDs, records or tapes. (Non-mechanical reproduction includes such things as making sheet music, for which royalties are paid by the publisher to the composer.)

Let's talk about streaming royalties, which are found under the category of the "Mechanical Royalty". Currently, Napster is the highest ranking in terms of paying out the most to the artist, at a rate of $0.019 per stream, while TIDAL is second highest at $0.0125 per stream, Apple Music comes in third at paying out at a rate of $0.00735. And what about Spotify? We're sure that most of your family and friends listen via that particular platform. As of last December, they paid a range from $0.006 to $0.0084 per play.

How does one keep track of all of this? As a songwriter and/or artist, it's almost safe to say that there is a split between those who use BMI and those who use ASCAP, as their PRO company - the company who takes a cut of their royalties in exchange for tracking and collecting what is owed to the writer/musician/artist.

guitar-guitarist-man-2462980.jpgWhat about that newly passed Music Modernization Act? What is it anyway? "The Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, or Music Modernization Act or MMA is United States legislation signed into law on October 11, 2018 aimed to modernize copyright-related issues for music and audio recordings due to new forms of technology like digital streaming."

It's still quite a new commodity and our methods for tracking all of this is still quite rough around the edges. With the recent passing of the Music Modernization Act, we're en route to a new day in getting what is deserved for creating such beautiful works that are played everywhere, all day long.