Canadian Musician


Digital Music News: How To Get All of the Royalties You Never Knew Existed

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

PROsThe following is from Ari Herstand at Digital Music News. All information is based on U.S. figures: 

A 2015 Berklee College of Music report found that anywhere from 20-50% of music payments do not make it to their rightful owners.  The indie publishing powerhouse Kobalt calculated that there are “over 900,000 distinct royalty payments for artists and songwriters.”  What are these royalties?  Where do they come from?  And most importantly, how do you get them?

I’m not gonna lie, it’s complicated, but I’m going to attempt to lay all of this out as simply as possible.  In plain English.  I’m here for you.  We’ll get through this together.  Bookmark this page and take a deep breath.

Ok, let’s go.

As you study more about the music business, you’ll see the distinction over and over again between “artist” and“songwriter”.  It’s an important distinction to make because the royalties for “artists” and the royalties for “songwriters” are completely different.

The reason I’m putting quotes around “artists” and “songwriters” is because so many of us are both. And many of us use these terms interchangeably.  And back in the day, when labels started signing artists who also wrote their own songs (which, at the time, was quite unique), they put in clauses in the contract to limit the royalties they’d (legally) have to pay out to their newly signed artists/songwriters.  One of these clauses is the infamous Controlled Composition Clause.

The major labels have always tried to screw artists out of money.  They look out for their own best interests and use artists’ ignorance (and blind pursuit of fame) to manipulate and deceive.  This is part of the reason why so many established artists and songwriters have jumped ship from their major labels (and major publishers) and headed over to Kobalt.

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