Rights & Royalties

"Possession isn't nine-tenths of the law, it's nine-tenths of the problem." - John Lennon

The vast majority of musicians – and artists in general – don’t make stacks of money. There are thousands of struggling musos for every Mick Jagger or Madonna, juggling day jobs and scraping savings to pursue their music. But this doesn’t mean your music isn’t a valuable asset worth protecting.  Music NT discusses rights and royalties with an arts lawyer, a multinational publishing company, an APRA representative and a band signed to a prominent publishing company.

Protect your copyright

By law, the music you create or perform belongs to you and therefore so do any profits it generates (or helps to generate), unless otherwise agreed. Delwyn Everard is Deputy Director at not for profit legal organisation Arts Law. She reveals some preliminary steps musicians can take to protect their copyright.

Understand how publishing and royalties work

Although profits are almost always going to be small when you’re starting out, it really does pay off to do your homework about what you’re entitled to as a songwriter or performing musician. Your music can make money in a huge number of ways apart from ticket or record sales – from being played on radio to being streamed on YouTube to being used in an advertisement. Heath Johns is Director of A&R at Universal Music Publishing-Australia, and shares some pointers on the different ways music can generate royalties, and how to catch a publishing company’s attention.

Phil Eaton is APRA’s NT Writer Services Representative, and explains why every musician should join a royalty collection agency such as APRA, and making the most of your membership.

Balance principles with practicals

The more established you become as a musician, the higher the profits from a wider range of sources, and the more people will want a slice of the pie. It’s good to be on top of how to best protect your rights to make sure you get your fair share of the royalties, but also to ensure you maintain a degree of creative control. Sam Lockwood of award-winning powerhouse outfit The Jezabels muses on the benefits of working with publishing companies and the importance of striking a balance between personal principles and the practicalities of publishing.

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