As the recording and streaming music industry continues to change, more musicians are uploading their music online than ever before. But this abundance of content also presents a problem: How do you find the songs you want to listen to without sifting through hundreds of other recordings first?
In addition to introducing listeners to new artists, streaming services have another advantage: They’re a great way for independent musicians (and anyone with access to studio time) to get their music in front of potential fans. In fact, according to one recent report on the state of the streaming economy, “the growth in user demand for on-demand services has resulted in an increase in the value of recorded music rights.”
With so many services available and different outlets having different payout rates for artists and songwriters, it’s important for aspiring musicians —whether they’re signed or unsigned—to understand how these services work from a legal standpoint. Read on for 10 things you need to know about music credits, why they matter, and how you claim yours if your rights have been infringed upon.
Music Credits Help You Find, Organize and Track Your Songs
Most music-streaming services let you catalogue your music by using credits and tagging. Credits are the title of your song, album name, and artist name. They are also where you can list any collaborators you had on a particular track.
When adding credits, some services allow you to use your own IPTC metadata. This is the same metadata used in photo editing and publishing software. IPTC metadata is also important because it allows other services to automatically recognise your music and make it discoverable to listeners.
Why Music Credits Matter
If you’re uploading your music to a streaming service, it’s important to note which rights you’re transferring. This allows you to retain the rights to your work while also making it available to a larger audience.
For example, if you’re uploading your music to Spotify, you’re transferring your master rights. This means you’re giving Spotify the right to host and stream your content online. If you transfer publishing rights, you’re giving the streaming service the rights to publish and administer your song.
This includes things like getting information about the song’s publishing royalties and helping them license the song for use in other media.
3D Printing and Music Licensing
Another related industry to understand music licensing is to think about 3D printing. Both industries involve manufacturing a product from a digital file. In the music industry, a record label or artist has the rights to use a particular song. Then they give this digital file to a music licensing company, which creates a digital product license.
This license allows the song to be used in a particular way, whether it be a TV show, video game, or film. Music licensing companies help artists, labels, and publishers enforce their rights when their work is used without permission. They’re also responsible for paying royalties to the songwriters, artists, and record labels whose music has been used.
Music Royalties Are Paid Based On Which Service Is Used
Royalties are paid out based on the service that your music is used on. For example, if your song is used on YouTube, you’ll earn royalties from the Audio-Visual Rights Society (ABRS). If you’re a songwriter, you’ll earn money from the Mechanical-Royalties-Society (MMS). The Performing-Rights-Society (PRS) collects royalties for music performed in public venues.
Sync Licensing Helps Independent Artists Earn Royalties When Their Songs Are Used For Media
If your song is used in TV shows, movies, and commercials, it’s referred to as a sync license. Sync licenses let music supervisors select songs from a database to fit their project.
You can use a website like Music Database to upload your songs and connect with music supervisors. In the event that your song is used in a TV show or commercial, the music supervisor will reach out to the publisher to negotiate a sync license.
The publisher will then collect the royalties for the artist or songwriter who owns the rights to the song.
Background Vocals Are Recognized As Individual Performances
Many artists record background vocals for their songs. In the event that your vocals are featured in someone’s song, you’ll earn royalties as a featured artist on that track.
Recording Royalties Are Paid Based On The Type of Recording Used
If you’re a recording artist, you’ll earn royalties based on the type of recording used. If your recording is a studio master, you’ll earn royalties from the Mechanical-Royalties-Society (MMS). If your recording is released as a product (e.g. vinyl), you’ll earn royalties from the Audio-Visual Rights Society (ABRS).
Bottom line: understand how music licensing works and use that knowledge to protect your rights as a musician.
How To Claim Royalties If Your Music Has Been Infringed Upon?
If you believe that your music has been used without permission, there are a few ways to find out. You can use an online search engine, such as Music Database, to discover where your music is being used.
Or, you can use a service like Music Identifier to identify the song that’s infringing on your copyright. If you discover that your music has been used without permission, you can report it to the host and request that the content be removed. You can also report the infringement to the relevant collecting society, such as PRS for Mechanical royalties or PRS for Visual Arts (for visuals accompanying a song). By reporting the infringement, you’ll earn royalties for your work.
Organize your work with metadata.
Metadata helps organize your music. It standardizes the information that’s associated with your content, making it easier to find. Metadata can include information such as the title of the song, the artist, the album title, and credits for any collaborators. Many music-streaming services allow you to input metadata. If you prefer to use your own metadata, make sure it’s compatible with the most popular computer programs used by music services.
Add your music to online databases.
There are a number of online databases that let you upload your music, including ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. These databases let you search for songs similar to your own and find potential collaborators. They also help you track your music’s usage, which is crucial for collecting royalties.
Music credits are essential for any musician hoping to grow their audience through online streaming services. By understanding how music licensing works, you can protect yourself from copyright infringement and also ensure that your work is properly credited.
With so many services available and different outlets having different payout rates for artists and songwriters, it’s important for aspiring musicians —whether they’re signed or unsigned—to understand how these services work from a legal standpoint.