Copyright Basics Every Recording Artist Should Know

If you’re packing your bags for a weekend at The Carriage House, your head is probably filled with thoughts of scheduling music production or talking to your recording engineer. Though legalities like copyrights may be far from your mind, they’re an important consideration.

What to Copyright


Image via Flickr by Horia Varlan

You need to copyright two aspects of your music. The composition consisting of the lyrics and music arrangement is protected under one copyright while the sound recording of your music is protected under another. It’s important to understand this distinction so all the work you do in the music studio is properly protected.

When to Register Your Composition

You should register your composition when it’s published. Registering an unpublished work is typically a waste of your money and efforts. Your composition is legally copyrighted as soon as it’s ‘fixed in a tangible medium.’ This means that even before you hit the recording studio, lay down your tracks, and finish mastering and mixing, your piece legally belongs to you.

You don’t need to mail a copy to yourself to prove copyright. Simply writing your music down or recording a rough version on your computer is enough. Though you don’t need to register your composition and recording for it to be copyrighted, you should do so after publication for added protection. Performing a song live does not constitute publication. However, posting a recording of a performance on YouTube does.

Who Manages the Copyright

Traditionally, your music publishing company will manage the copyright for your composition, and your record label will manage the copyright for your recordings. Managing copyrights yourself is an option, but there are distinct benefits to partnering with the right people over DIY copyright. A well-known record label will add your composition to their catalog. If your work is picked up for use in a movie or advertisement, you’ll typically get half of the revenue. While this may seem like less than you’re hoping for, keep in mind that the publisher typically picks up copyright registration fees, saving you money upfront.

The Life of a Copyright

Your copyright will actually live longer than you do. If the author of the work holds the copyright, it lasts for 70 years from the author’s death. If there are multiple authors, it lasts for 70 years from the death of the last author. If you create an audio music recording for a corporation or limited liability company, this is considered work for hire. The company that hired you holds the copyright and will retain it for 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from its creation, giving precedence to the anniversary that comes first.

If you’re looking for the right recording studio to create that all-important recording that you’ll soon copyright, Carriage House Studios has comfortable facilities for everything from writing your next song to recording your big hit album. Schedule your creative retreat to The Carriage House now and you’ll leave with plenty worth copyrighting.



Posted on July 29, 2015 in copyrighting

Share the Story

About the Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to Top