December 04, 2015

Composer? Arranger? Get the royalties you’ve earned

some of the music that is being performed deserve your fair share, even if it is just a few dollars.

You can choose not to collect your money. That’s your decision. But the money – the license to use music – is there because it is being paid through license fees, so why not get what you have earned?

But I just want to make music, man.

Composing music is fun, but it also work. It is fun work. Serious composers spend a lot of time getting their music right. It can be painstaking. Sure, sometimes a pipe tune just sort of “happens,” and that occurs in all walks of music. But that does not mean it is not valuable.

There is a strange tradition in piping, and actually in music in general, where the people who make music aren’t interested, or they claim they’re uninterested, in getting paid for their music. They might think it’s gauche, or appears selfish, or something that doesn’t fit their personal image.

“I’m just happy to hear it being played and that people enjoy it.”

Bricklayers take pride in and even love their work, and they expect to be fairly compensated for it.

Yes, of course. That’s true of just about all work. The carpenter/joiner likes to see his or her cabinets enjoyed. The bricklayer loves to see a family like their new brick house. The novelist loves it when people like his or her new book. The chef delights when people enjoy her food.

But would they expect that enjoyment to be the only payment for their work? Never. People gladly pay for good work, work that is enjoyed.

The exact same is true of our music. Events, radio stations, record companies, TV stations, movies use our music because – get this – people enjoy it. They enjoy it enough to pay for it, either directly or indirectly through tickets or advertising. Those who own the copyright to the music that they use deserve fair compensation.

The music belongs to you, the composer

The moment you create a tune, you own it. It’s yours, and it’s your right to receive money when it’s played in public, under copyright. So what does “under copyright” mean, exactly?

Well, copyright is really a bundle of different rights. There are three main ones:

  • The right to produce a tune, such as making a recording, or printing sheet music.
  • The right to reproduce or make copies of the tune, which includes
    • “Mechanical rights,” where the music is reproduced mechanically, such as pressing a CD, or reproducing it digitally, and
    • “Synchronization rights,” where the music is synchronized with an image, such as music in films, videos, and multimedia productions.

“Performing rights” are the rights to perform a tune in public – whether it’s a tune played by a band in a live concert, played on a recording in a business venue, or played to the public . . .





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