Music entrepreneur Eldee has come out to share a ton of knowledge on Twitter regarding the music business which is centered around copyrights, music publishing and licencing.
The singer believes hoarding knowledge about such is what stifles growth and hinders innovation.
Nigerian upcoming artistes can benefit from this reservoir of knowledge from the music maestro.
Check on his tweets.
To discuss publishing, we have to understand copyrights. I want to start by explaining copyrights.
As Part 1, I will attempt to break down music copyrights, what it is, who owns what, and why it is important.
Part 2 will break down Publishing, what it is, how it works, and why it’s important. Part 3, Music licensing.
Forgive me if I use “big grammar” every now and then but please call me out to explain anything that isn’t clear.
This will be explained in detail when we get to Part 3 (licensing) and I’ll attempt to give advice on best practices
Ok. My ‘KnowYourRights’ tweet session starts now. I’m doing this to help creators understand their creations and how to better exploit them.
I assume many already understand copyright but for the benefit of those who don’t, come along for the ride. You may acquire new perspective.
Today we are discussing Music copyrights.
COPYRIGHTS give music creators material rights to control ways their songs can be used.
As a creator, copyrights are automatically yours as soon as the material is recorded in writing or other digital ways.
Say you come up with an original song idea, once the song is in a tangible format, you automatically have legal copyrights.
You could be in the shower & get inspired with some original melodies. Once you write it down or record it on a phone, you own the copyright.
The idea is that once the melodies leave your head and are recorded into a tangible medium, you own the copyrights.
Tangible format means it is written on paper, recorded on a tape, CD, mp3, or other formats that can allow you to give it to someone else.
Important: If you do not have the work in tangible format, you can not prove that you are the original creator, therefore, give yasef brain!
Tangible formats for your work also helps to time-stamp the work. This will be useful to you if you need proof later of when you created it.
VERY important: For you to own the copyrights, the work must be ORIGINAL in the sense that it has not been copied from another work.
If you use previously known melody or lyrics in your work, you can’t claim full ownership of copyrights on such work.
If you borrow from existing music, the original writer/composer owns copyrights of your new creation & you must get permission to sell it.
Remember, for you to own copyrights, the work must be recorded in writing or other formats (on a CD, tape, mp3 or other digital formats).
What do copyrights do for you as a creator? – The general idea is to give you control over how people interact with or use your work.
Your control of the copyrights of your works is what enables you to exploit your creation i.e. Make money from it.
Copyrights prohibits all others from the use of a song without the express authorization of the creator or copyright owner.
Copyrights can only be transferred from the creator to someone else on a document that is signed by both parties.
Any use of a musical work in which copyright exists without the express authorization of the owner is an infringement.
When you sign a record deal, you are giving the record label authorization to sell the songs you will create during the contract.
When you sign with a VAS company to sell your ringtones and ring back tunes, you are giving them authorization. Get it?
You can also give authorization to a person or company which allows them to give authorizations to others on your behalf.
Now lets break down the copyrights that exist in a song…Who is a Songwriter? Composer? Performer?
There is a distinction between the SONGWRITER(S) and COMPOSER(S) that create a song and the PERFORMER(S) that record the song.
Songwriters come up with the words/lyrics/melodies. Composers create melodies/beats and a Performer is the person who sings it (vocals).
Songwriters & composers are similar. They both create melodies. Difference is composers typically don’t write lyrics but don’t quote me yet.
Semantics of the Composer/Songwriter distinction is on-going argument in many circles. I’ll go in depth in another session.
To simplify it for now, think of a Composer as what we call “producer” nowadays and Songwriter as the person who writes the word/lyrics.
Sometimes the Performer (Artist) is also the Songwriter, or even the Composer as well. I was that guy on my first 2 albums.
I hope all of this makes sense so far. I promise to try to answer all the questions once I’m done.
Ok, moving on, There are 2 copyrights in every recording. Represented by the ℗ and ©. You’ve probably seen those on CD inserts & credits.
The ℗ is the SOUND RECORDING copyright symbol. The ℗ actually stands for “phonogram”. This copyright belongs to the Record Label.
The © is the copyright for the song (lyrics, composition). It belongs to the songwriter and/or Composer.
Eg. John Lennon & Paul McCartney wrote “Yesterday” (Songwriters/composers). Boys2men recorded a version (Performers) while signed to Motown.
Breaks down like this: Paul McCartney & John Lennon own the ©. Motown owns the ℗ and pays Boys 2 Men royalties from selling the new version.
Important: Boys2Men do not own the © nor the ℗ for that song. They simply get royalties from the sale of their own version by their label.
Owning the © means you or your representative has to authorize anybody who wants to use your work in whole or as a part of another project.
So Boys2Men/Motown must get permission from Paul McCartney & John Lennon or the publisher in order to record the song & sell it.
Another example: I wrote & produced the Goldie(RIP) song “You know it”, so I own the ©. She was signed to kennis Music so they own the ℗.
If Rihanna records the song, I still own the ©, & RocNation owns the ℗ for the new version. Kennis still owns the ℗ for Goldie’s version.
Long story short: Songwriters and Composers are the original rights owners of lyrics and melody, the ©.
Record label owns and can only exploit its recorded version, its own SOUND RECORDING, the ℗ copyright. It is sometimes called the “Master”.
Some songwriters/composers give their song copyright © to the record label as well. Depends on what you sign with the record label.
Music publishers often acquire © copyrights from songwriters/composers. We’ll discuss publishing and types of publishing deals later.
Simply put, song copyright © protects your lyrics & melody only. Sound recording copyright ℗ covers that particular recording of the song.
Next… There are 6 different copyright authorizations that can be issued to third parties who wish to use your work/song.
6 copyrights when you create a song – Distribution, Reproduction, Public Performance, Digital transmissions, Derivatives, Public display.
These rights allow you to choose who can distribute, reproduce, play in public, play on radio, show it on tv, sell ringtones etc.
I’m sure by now you’ll agree that its imperative to have a lawyer if you’re in this business, and not just any lawyer.
In order to make sense of Music publishing, you must have a clear understanding of music copyrights.
The former record label executive has stated he would continue with music publishing notes next. Watch out for this.