Music Copyright 101; What is Copyright?


If you're an independent who creates and makes music from scratch, you are both the artist and the songwriter.

Perhaps you're even capable of producing the soundtrack yourself and so then not only are you the artist and songwriter but then you're also the beatmaker, or, the producer!

Whatever your situation...

When you create a song, you own the music copyright!

And what you do with it and how you protect it is up to you!

Now you may already know what a copyright is?

But let's assume for a minute you don't because you're here, so let's start with the very basics...

Do you recognize the very fitting symbol for a copyrighted creation?

A "C" in a circle (©).

And in case you didn't know already...

The notification of a "P" with a circle all around (℗) is the symbol for sound recording copyright.

Music Copyright


The sound recording copyright symbol, represented by the graphic symbol ℗, is the copyright symbol used to provide notice of copyright in a sound recording embodied in a phonorecord.

Sound recording copyright symbol
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


When a person owns the copyright to a work, it gives them the sole right to that specific work, for a restricted and specific length of time.

For a work to be "copyrightable," it should be unique and fixed in an original structure.

It also needs to be in a tangible form.

For example, a soundtrack fixed on a CD, MP3, or other advanced sound recording space, for example, a WAV document.

All things considered, there are numerous copyrightable works.

A few instances of copyrightable material include:

  • books
  • films
  • tunes
  • dance movement
  • compelling artwork
  • comedic work
  • sculptural works
  • PC programming
  • building work.

Basically all realistic masterful works.

Copyright law does not cover facts, ideas, thoughts, systems, or strategies for activity.

Copyright additionally doesn't ensure melody titles, band names, or trademarks are protected.

We know this implies that as an artist you cannot copyright your band name or melody titles.

However, an individual may apply for brand name security via trademark protection.

Copyright does not protect song titles, band names, band logos, or slogans.

However, music recordings might actually be secured.

Provided you put in place the necessary agreements, copyrights, as they apply to music, are unique in that, each track has two copyrights.

One of these is the copyright of the master recording or the "expert version" itself - aka the master.

And the other is the copyright for the underlying composition, for example, the lyrics, the melodic structure, which comprises of the verses, and the chords.

Essentially the audio (the sound itself).

Fundamentally the music (the beat or instrumental).

It's important to understand copyright as it correlates to the royalties you can earn for the song you create.

To continue learning some music industry basics...

Check out our next article Performing Rights Organisations 101: All About PRO’s.


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Andrea graduated from Roehampton University and The BRIT School, whose globally recognized alumni include Adele, Katy B, Ella Eyre, FKA Twigs, Jessie J, Leona Lewis, Katie Melua, Kate Nash and the Rizzle Kicks. She takes her love of the arts and entertainment industry to provide useful information to upcoming musicians, helping them navigate the industry and avoid making costly mistakes. She actively mentors our current contributors. Andrea has qualifications in Content Marketing and also manages our collaborative playlists for independent artists

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