Each track of recorded music that is distributed has two royalties associated with it:
- Musical Composition: this refers to the underlying song that is being performed, and the copyright authors are those who have written the music and lyrics. This copyright could potentially have multiple owners if multiple people contributed.
- Sound Recording: this refers to the recording itself as a tangible medium that can be played back and the copyright authors are those that performed the recording or those who produced/engineered it, or both. It is common for this copyright to have just one owner, which could be the artist or the label who is releasing the recording.
- ℗ denotes the copyright of the sound recording
- © denotes the copyright of the artwork, packshot, packaging, text and/or other printed material (as applicable) associated with the recording
It is possible that the same person or entity owns both copyrights (if in doubt, please refer to your music/entertainment lawyer for advice). For each type of exploitation (Musical Composition and Sound Recording), the owner is due royalty payments for sales and streams of the recording. As part of the standard AWAL agreement, we only collect and pay you the Sound Recording royalties that are accumulated from the use of your music.
When the artist/performer for a piece of recorded music would like to distribute and make it available for sale or to stream, they require a ‘mechanical’ license for the underlying musical composition and owe the author of this copyright royalties for its use. For more information see Mechanicals.