Who Has Song Rights in Song Production? A Guide



It’s now easier than ever before to establish a successful music career. In the past, you were required to have a broad musical skill set and also a large number of industry connections.

Today, you have the opportunity to make music on your laptop while connecting with thousands of other professionals via the Internet. However, not everybody is sure who owns the song rights when more than one person is involved in the creation of a track.

Let’s take a look at everything you should know.

There Are Two Types of Music Copyright

Interestingly, many people are unaware that there are two types of music copyright. These include:

  • Copyright for the composition itself, which includes music and lyrics
  • The copyright for the sound recording, which includes that recorded iteration of the music and lyrics

So, this means that someone who composes and writes the lyrics for a song still has copyright ownership over the content even if it is recorded at a later date by another party.

From a music production standpoint, this means that the music producer who created the composition for the song has partial copyright ownership.

In general, the recorded version of a particular track is owned by the artist themselves or the label that manages the artist.

These Rights Are Transferable

It’s possible to transfer your rights to another party. In fact, copyright ownership is a common segment of agreements in the music industry.

For instance, someone may attempt to purchase full ownership of a recording while also securing the rights to the original composition. As you might guess, being able to do so for high-profile tracks can be a highly lucrative deal.

Sometimes, artists wish to temporarily secure rights to use an original composition in order to promote their own work. This is a process known as “leasing.”

In contrast to leasing, artists can also purchase unlimited usage rights to composition through an “exclusive” lease.

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Registering Your Copyright Has Benefits

Upon the creation of an original recording, the parties involved have copyright ownership over this content. However, you won’t be able to take legal action against copyright infringement unless you have officially registered your work with the US Copyright Office.

In context, a common scenario could involve an artist uploading an original song onto the Internet. Someone else could then download the song and claim that they wrote it instead before uploading it to streaming platforms.

If your work has not been officially registered, there’s a strong chance you won’t be able to get the compensation you deserve.

Understanding Who Owns the Song Rights to a Track Is Essential

Otherwise, you could encounter legal complications in the future. Fortunately, the above information will help ensure that you have a strong understanding of who owns the song rights for a track you are involved in.

Want to learn more useful information that can benefit you in the future? Our blog has plenty of great resources you can check out.