Mechanical Royalties 101: What are Mechanical Royalties?
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When a song is played via broadcast, performed, downloaded, or streamed, royalties are generated for the creators involved in the making of that song!
Oftentimes, musicians, artists, or creators don’t know that these royalties exist…
Or, simply don’t know the difference between all the different types (because there are quite a few)!
And sometimes it’s maybe even that they know that the royalty exists but they’re unsure of how to go about collecting them.
Yes, indeed, it’s all very confusing!
But don’t worry, because we’re going to explain…
And hopefully by the end of this article, you’re going to understand it all a bit better!
And you’ll be able to help and inform the next person…
To begin with, it’s important that you know exactly what some of the main types of royalties are that exist, and, are available to you…
And all the other music makers out there!
Here are five types of royalty streams that you should know about:
Paid whenever music is performed publicly.
You can click here to learn more about this type of royalty in our article ‘Performing Rights Organisations 101: All About PRO’s’.
Generated when a song is used as background music for a movie, TV show, or advert.
More specifically, sync royalties are generally a one-time sum paid directly to the publisher.
Typically paid in addition to synchronization, or public performance royalties.
As royalties paid to the publisher only grant the rights to the use of a song, and not a specific recording of a song.
The master-generated royalty can also be known as the recording royalty.
“With a master recording copyright, a record label seeks to collect royalties from the use of a specific recording of a song.
Master royalties are paid out to a label when the label’s recording is used in an advertisement, film, television program, streaming service or another medium”
Print music royalties are royalties paid for the sale of printed sheet music, which can take the form of musical notation and/or lyrics.
And finally, last but by no means least, the royalty we’re here to learn about…
The basic explanation is that mechanical royalties are generated whenever a copy of your music is made.
Where or how the music’s being consumed usually decides how the royalty is generated.
And just like many things in the music industry, it’s a little complex.
Performance royalties and Mechanical royalties are the two main types of royalties that you will get for your music…
But there’s also another one we mentioned above which is becoming more and more relevant and it’s called micro sync!
You can learn more about that one here, but basically, the royalty that we mentioned above (the synchronization of music with moving images), it’s the same as that one!
So it’s generated from the use of music in tandem with audiovisual works across many uses.
Like on YouTube for example, in smaller individual instances but with a huge number of uses so they do add up.
And a monetized YouTube video will generate both performance and mechanical royalties…
The ‘mechanical royalty, is aptly named…
The mechanical aspect of it being when something is considered a reproduction of your work.
So just as if your music is reproduced in physical forms, like a CD for example…
Whenever someone generates a reproduction of your work the mechanical royalty is also generated.
For instance, think of when you do a digital download…if there’s a digital download of your song a copy has been made of it.
Even if it’s streamed, that’s not the original song, it’s the reproduction of it.
So whenever someone streams or downloads your song that’s going to generate the mechanical royalty.
To help you to understand the way mechanical royalties work, watch this short video by EmpoweredSelf on YouTube to wrap your head around the subject a little better:
Are you grasping the concept a little more now?
Mechanical royalties are payments made to the creators of a song whenever that song is reproduced in some form.
In the UK, mechanical royalties are collected and administered by the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS).
Mechanical royalties are usually paid to a publisher whenever a copy of one of the songs the publisher represents is sold.
If you’re still confused by the subject and wanting to know more, we recommend you check out this amazing explanation on Royalty Exchange:
Click here for their comprehensive guide on Mechanical Royalties.
And there’s also another music royalty that we haven’t mention here that you’ll definitely want to know and learn more about…
It’s called The Black Box Royalty, and you can click here to find out all about it.
If you found this helpful and want to learn more you can find more useful information in our Music Business Tips section!
Thanks for checking us out and good luck on your music journey!
The Indiy Team ✌🏽
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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