After being active for over a decade in the Music Business and online, I’ve noticed a common trend among a lot of up and coming Hip Hop Producers.
It seems Hip Hop Producer’s (Beatmakers and aspiring “future” producers fall into this category as well) don’t know about or understand a few key things that are super important to their role and ultimately their career in the music business.
Before I get started, I must admit that I myself didn’t know (and wasn’t trying to learn) much about this side of the business until I decided to put a burner under my a$* and get educated. (…and I’m still learning too - so bear with me…)
That being said, I’m gonna pass off a few things to you [my fellow producer] that I’ve learned that will hopefully help you out on your road to becoming the next Super Producer.
Please note: This is in no way legal advise and is “simplified” to keep it short and sweet.
Now that we have an understanding, pull up a chair…
In a nutshell, US Copyright law works like this: You make something and put it in tangible form (eg: burn your music to a CD, flash drive, save the DAW session, etc) ~ you own the copyrights to it. That’s all there is to it.
Your copyright gives you the exclusive right to:
Reproduce the work
Make derivative works
Sell or transfer ownership of the copyright
Display the work publicly
Perform the work
The only way you don’t hold your copyrights is if you sell them (like in a “work for hire”) or give them away (which legally must be in writing).
Now, as you may or may not know, you don’t necessarily need to register your copyright for it to be yours (since you already own your copyright by law by default) but if you do have to go to court behind it, your registration can work in your favor if you end up in court because: “registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation.” <-- quoted from Copyright.gov
What that means: Lets say you sue someone for illegally using your stuff, you can possibly be awarded “statutory damages” of up to 150k if you win the case and can also have the other party pay your legal fees as well since your work was registered before the claim was made.
So register your work.
Did you know: Under US copyright law, 2 or more individuals who work on a song [together] with the intent to combine their work into a song are considered joint authors of the new work that is created.
What that means: If you and an artist make a song, both of you have equal rights to exploit (eg: make money from) the song you created. Because the song belongs to both of you.
Please note: If you do make money from it, (like sell a CD with the music) the other author is entitled to a cut. Unless you have a written agreement that states otherwise. So keep that in mind and share nicely. =)
ASCAP, BMI, SESAC ~ What are they?
They are PRO’s.
What does that mean? “PRO” stands for “Performance Rights Organizations”.
What they do: Track and collect performance royalties ($$money$$) on behalf of (You!) Music Publishers, Composers and Songwriters and then pay it out to them (You!).
What counts as a performance? Basically, anytime your music is performed in public. This includes but is not limited to: Radio play, Concerts, Clubs, TV and film, etc.
Why should I register with a PRO?