What is the Difference Between a Master Rights and Song Rights in Music

Here’s a very crucial question that needs a very crucial answer in the music industry. What is the difference between Master Rights and Song Rights? The business of music or music business as its commonly referred to, is a very interesting business. One that is powered and driven by hundreds of pages of contracts or agreements. The founding Fathers of the commercial music industry, has one thing in mind back then, that is, “making sense of it all”. “If you know what I mean?”

Why do musicians need to know the difference between Master Rights and Song Rights in Recordings?

If you are just starting out in music as an artist, this is the right time to know some of the highly sensitive aspects of the music business that poses like classified information in a senatorial settings. These information forms the basis of the music industry and be warned that: as a young artist, you might not just be privileged to have access to this information as, in most cases, you will be consumed by anxiety and hunger to find a fitting spot within a record label settings.

Just like every industry, it is compulsory for any participants to have an idea of what the operational principles of the industry you would like to get yourself into or find yourself in. This is to avoid miscarriage of judgement or perceptions. Knowing fully well that at anytime in the future, a dispute may arise over who is responsible for what.

The Difference between Master Rights and Song Rights?

Oh ! please be patient! Wait a bit! I know you just wanna rush to sign on the dotted line and drop your new album as soon as possible. But there is a “But” here. Lets deal with it first. Quickly, what is Master Recordings?
Simply put, a Master Recording or “Masters” in music terms, means the original recorded songs or album. The original copy cut straight out off the music recording studio that is fully mastered and prepared for commercial release by the music company or record label.

Who Actually Owns the Masters and Who Owns the Songs

The person or company that might have financially invested in this project from start to finish, is the rightful or legal owner of the musical recordings that will be known as EP, or Album or Single projects.

While the Songwriter or Author of the written words (Lyrical composer) that has being expressed into a musical arrangement known as “Song” is the rightful owner of the song. Or songs that has being reproduced into a musical piece. There might be some other right claims such as artistic performance, instrumentals etc but the contention here is the Masters and the entire Songs. Expressively so, as per above, the Right of Ownership of any Master Recordings, belongs to the Record Company or anyone of interest who had invested their capital resources in the form of finance into such recording projects.

Music production is a project with so many branches to it. So if you are still wondering what’s next? and who is to claim which right at anytime of dispute? Your curiosity is justified. But the solution to avoiding any conflicts as time goes on, is to know exactly who owns what and who did what to your project if you are a music artist.

Knowledge is power. Share your thoughts below. You can also join the Morgeez Mentor-ship Program and beef-up your music business knowledge even as you grow in the music industry. Click here to learn more…. Or click here to contact our help desk.

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Christopher Odiley

Christopher Odiley

Christopher Odiley is a music industry expert with a special focus on talent development, music consulting, music production, and music publishing. Christopher Odiley is also a talent manager infusing mentoring into his artist management duties. The Founder and Executive Producer of Morgeez Meia Agency trading as Morgeez Records based in South Africa and Nigeria respectively

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