Every song has two sides: the recording and the composition.
Master recordings refer to performances that can be played back or reproduced. You can earn money off them by selling physical recordings at shows; using an online aggregator like CD Baby to distribute songs on digital platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music); or signing a deal with a label that will help manufacture and distribute recordings on your behalf.
The underlying composition of a recording — its music and lyrics — is closely aligned with music publishing, i.e. the money you make when other individuals or groups use music you wrote (the “composition”). This includes a record company reproducing your music (mechanical royalties); a radio station, website, or restaurant playing your music publicly (performance royalties); or a producer using your music in a movie or television show (sync royalties).
Streaming is unique in that it earns both mechanical and performance royalties. Check out a detailed breakdown of how streaming royalties work via our Spotify case study here.
Interested in learning more? Check out our blog post on the difference between Music Publishing and Distribution.
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