Let’s run through the important, but complicated, process of music royalties.

Royalties are the money that is paid to recording artists, songwriters, and/or publishers for following the use of their artistic work. While the definition is simple, issuing royalties to artists can be a complicated and involved matter. In general, artists can receive royalties for their music through mechanical reproductions (CDs, vinyls, etc.), public performances (radio, broadcast, etc.), and synchronizations (films, commercials, etc.). Royalties are divided between different people involved in the creation of a song, including the songwriter, the publisher, and the recording artists.

Who Gets Music Royalties and Distributes Music Royalties


Each of the entities listed below have a direct role in either issuing and/or receiving royalties from the use of music.

  1. The Songwriter

Responsible for writing both the lyrics and music for a song. This can be one person or many people. They receive royalties from several different entities, including the publisher, record label, sync licensing agency, PROs, and print companies, depending on how their song is used.

  1. The Publisher

Responsible for exploiting an artist’s music for profit by issuing rights to record labels, tv/movie producers, and more. They generally acquire the copyright from the songwriter in exchange for royalty privileges. The publisher receives royalties from record labels, sync licensing agencies, PROs, and print companies.

  1. The Record Label

Responsible for recording an artist’s work and producing both tangible and digital copies of the recording. They have the master rights to a recorded track, but not the publishing rights. If the label owns the recordings, they receive rights from the publisher to record them and sell them for profit. If they don’t own the recordings, i.e. for a compilation or something similar, the label receives rights from the mechanical licensing agency to record a song a sell it for a profit.

  1. The Performing Artist

The person or people who actually perform the songwriter’s original work. Unless they also are the songwriter (which is common), they do not have publishing rights. They receive royalties for use of the master recording, in mechanical reproduction of the recording (CDs, vinyls, etc.), as well as from sync licensing agencies.

  1. Performing Rights Organization (PRO)

PROs acquire public performance royalties on behalf of the songwriter and the music publisher. Public performances include any public space where a song is played — including radio, commercial spaces, etc. Once the copyrighted material is registered with the PRO, they will issue royalties to both the publisher and the songwriter.

  1. Mechanical Rights Agency

This agency manages mechanical licensing rights for the music publisher and issues those rights to anyone who’d like to produce copies of the music. They issue royalties to the songwriter, publisher, and performer.

  1. Sync Licensing Agency

Acquires rights from the music publisher and record label to issue licenses for syncing a song alongside any sort of visual media, including films, commercials, etc. They issue royalties for sync licenses to the music publisher, songwriter, and whoever owns the rights to the master recording.

The Big Picture

A songwriter issues the copyright for their song to a music publisher, who then either releases the recording independently, issues rights directly to a record label, or issues rights to a mechanical rights agency, who then issues those rights to a record label to record and produce the music with a performer. Depending on how the music is used — in public performances, CD sales, in films, sheet music, etc. — the people who were involved in the production are issued royalties. Royalty splits are negotiated between each entity, depending on their level in the process and how many people were involved. Simple, right?

We explain how and why they exist, and whoever the heck Harry Fox is.

Mechanical royalties are paid to artists whenever they’re music is reproduced. This can apply to CDs, vinyls, cassettes, digital downloads, and streaming services. After signing with a mechanical rights agency (the Harry Fox Agency is who pays mechanical royalties in the U.S.), copyright holders will receive royalties upon the sale of their music. Generally the mechanical rights are obtained by a record label or streaming service, and the royalties are paid by the mechanical rights agency to the music publisher, who then splits the royalties with the songwriter based on their agreement.

What are Mechanical Royalties?

Just like many other aspects of the music industry, who pays mechanical royalties is fairly easy to grasp on the surface, but a bit more difficult to explain in-depth. In general, they apply to the money that is paid to copyright holders when their music is reproduced in a physical or digital format. This can apply to CDs, cassettes, vinyls, digital downloads, streaming services, etc. While modern methods may have moved beyond “mechanical” (the original term came from player-piano rolls) the name has stuck.

Who Pays Mechanical Royalties?

Mechanical royalties are paid by mechanical rights agencies. In the U.S., the Harry Fox Agency is the primary mechanical rights agency, but there are many more around the world. This is the first step in the process, in the same way that an artist signs with a performance rights organization to gather and distribute performance royalties.

Who Receives Mechanical Royalties?

Mechanical royalties are given to the copyright holders (most commonly the music publisher and the songwriter). An entity must get a mechanical license to reproduce a copyrighted song in any format — digital or physical. This is most commonly record labels and streaming services. Once they obtain a mechanical license and reproduce the material, the licensing agency collects royalties based on the units sold (or songs streamed if digitally).

Music publishers and songwriters do have the option to collect royalties directly from the record label in the U.S. without sacrificing a percentage to the mechanical rights agency. Oftentimes a record label will make an agreement with the copyright holders when they sign a contract on who collects mechanical royalties.

How to Collect Mechanical Royalties Outside the U.S.

If you’d like to collect mechanical royalties for copyrighted work being reproduced outside the U.S., you’ll most likely need to sign with a mechanical rights agency in the respective country. This can be an involved and time-consuming process, especially since many countries require the use of an agency to collect and distribute royalties.

How Much are Artists Paid for Mechanical Licenses?

Another difficult question to answer. On average, songs earn around 9.1 cents each time it is reproduced in physical format or downloaded digitally following a purchase. Compulsory mechanical licenses (for covers of songs) generally earn 8.5 cents per reproduction. As for digital streaming services, artists generally receive .0008 cents every time one of their songs is played.

We explain how artists get paid for their creative work.

Royalties, not to be confused with music licenses, are the payments that go out to artists when their work is used in some capacity. Royalties are paid for several different forms of licensing and usage, including mechanical, public performance, synchronization, and print music. Generally royalties are paid once the copyrighted work is broadcast or performed in any way. The four types of music royalties are:

  1. Mechanical

Mechanical royalties are paid upon physical reproduction of an artist’s work. For example, when a record company produces records they need to pay royalties every time a single copy is reproduced. This is most often negotiated on the front end of contract between a music publisher and record label. These royalties apply to any physical format of music, including vinyl, cassette, and CD productions.

  1. Public Performance

Public performance royalties are the most wide-reaching, common form of royalties that are issued to musicians. By definition, public performances pertain to any performance of copyrighted material. This can include, but is not limited to, airing music on radio, live performances, performances recorded for film or television, and playing copyrighted work over stereos in public spaces. Most often performance royalties are paid to performance rights organizations (PROs) such as BMI or ASCAP. The PROs collect the royalties and pay them out to the artists that have signed with them as representation, after taking a cut for operating costs.

  1. Synchronization (Sync)

Sync royalties are paid for copyrighted music that is paired with visual media of any kind, including films, commercials, and online/streaming video and advertisements. These royalties are often negotiated on the front end of the licensing process, and are paid based on how many times the song will be used, and for which audience.

  1. Print Music

Print royalties are the simplest and least common form of payment that is paid to an artist. This type of royalty applies to copyrighted music that is transcribed to a print piece, like sheet music, and then distributed. Royalties are paid to the copyright holder based on the number of copies made of the printed piece.

Music licenses are the primary way artists can receive royalties for their music, by giving legal permission to someone who’d like to use their work. In general, there are six types of licenses that someone can use for various purposes. They are: synchronization license, mechanical license, master license, public performance license, print rights license, and theatrical license.

The uses of original works can range from sheet music reproduction to theater productions all the way to jukeboxes and major motion pictures. Because copyrighted material needs written permission from the author to be used, people seeking to use the work must get a music license. In general, if you’re using a song (that’s not yours) for something that other people will hear, you need a music license to use it. This license will include the usage and term rights, which determines how the song will be used. You can learn more about music usage rights here and about music copyrights here.

Here are the six major forms of music licenses, along with how they’re used in a practical sense.

  • Synchronization License (Sync License)

Musicbed’s platform is built completely on representing musicians and composers for sync licensing. This method of licensing refers to music that is going to be paired with some form of visual media. It has a broad range of uses, including TV commercials, studio films, streaming advertisements, personal films, internal communications, and more.

  • Mechanical License

A mechanical license is needed for any physical reproduction of an artist’s work. Primarily this refers to the manufacturing of CDs or distribution of music in any tangible form. Artists, aka copyright holders, will have agreements with record labels, distributors, and publishers on the mechanical terms of their music, and are generally paid per-copy.

  • Master License

Master licenses are a bit more complex than most others, in that they’re similar to sync licenses but not quite as broad-ranging. A master right is held by the person who owns the recording of a song. The master license gives the user permission to use a pre-recorded version of a song in a visual or audio project, but does not allow a user to re-record a song for a project (i.e. to cover or edit a song). Generally a master license is issued in conjunction with a sync license.

  • Public Performance License

This license is perhaps the most common form of music license issued today. While ‘performance’ may be a limiting term, it applies generally to any broadcast of an artist’s work. This includes businesses who play music in their store, jukeboxes, or any other form of public performance — all the way up to concerts. Performing rights organizations (PROs) such as BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP generally manage public performance licenses and issue music royalties to artists on a per-use basis.

  • Print Rights License

This license refers to the physical copy of the sheet music that an artist has created. It’s needed when someone prints a sheet music compilation, or any time the sheet music of copyrighted work is reproduced.

  • Theatrical License

Also a very specific form of written permission, theatrical licenses are very common in the theater industry. The license is required any time a copyrighted work is performed on-stage in front of an audience.

When you hear the name Alkamis, you’re immediately struck with curiosity that this unique name belongs not to a rapper or a dj, but to one of Jamaica’s rising crooners. What will keep you his is soulful voice, set to destined to be a part of Jamaican music near and far.
Raised in Lampard, a fruitful farming district in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, Orlando Johnson started his musical career, singing at church and entertaining his supportive family (which includes nine siblings). As Orlando grew and his voice became stronger, so did his performances.
Outgrowing the church choir, Orlando started performing at stage shows, concerts, school programs, and parties. He began experimenting lyrically with clean topics ranging from history, love, and current affairs, voicing on RnB tracks as well as Dancehall riddims and Reggae ‘One Drop’ style tracks.
In 2005, Orlando saw the vision to pursue his musical talents professionally. Around this time, the stage name “Alkamis” was birthed. While in a session with Gumption Band, it was noted that “Orlando could put lyrics together like a Chemist” and the name Alkamis has stuck ever since.
Shortly after Alkamis linked with Askhelle from Vision House, who’s been a helpful hand in toward a professional career. In 2010 he was introduced to producers of Push Hitz Records; Delano Smith and Desmond Hepburn by a family member named Yvette Johnson. Within the last few years, Alkamis has recorded “No Love Again”, “Faith Inside” and “Can’t Stop Loving You”, as well as “Rain On Me”, “Forever”, ”My Turn”.
Inspired by Beres Hammond, Spragga Benz and Wayne Wonder, Alkamis has crafted his own sound combining the sweet melodies of ‘One Drop’ Reggae with a mix of soulful RnB. To showcase his talent, Alkamis would love to collaborate with veteran U-Roy and sultry singer Alaine.
At present Alkamis will be releasing the video for “Rain On Me” and prepping for his debut album. While the rising crooner is respectful that his professional career is taking a greater leap,he wants people to understand his artistic mission and that is “create long lasting music, bringing positive inspirations across the world. Making people enjoy, appreciate, and change their lives through music”
Dancehall/Reggae Recording Artist, Follow me on twitterhttp://www.twitter.com/AlkamisMusic


1. Write the Lyrics for Your Song

Many musicians write their own melodies as well as the lyrics. If you already have lyrics, consider them when writing your melody. Some questions to ask yourself before composing the music are: What words do I want to focus on? Are there note lengths or timing that will accommodate certain words better than others will?

Consider the following line: I DROVE my CAR down the HIGHWAY. The emphasized words DROVE, CAR and HIGHWAY give the listener an idea of what is going on, even if these are the only words they hear. On the other hand, if you sing the same line but emphasize different words: I drove MY car DOWN THE highway. The listener might have no idea what you're singing about.

You can emphasize words with a louder note, changing the note itself, a longer note or including a rest before or after the note. Experiment with your song and see what sounds the best.

2. Listen to and Learn from Other Composers

There is something to be learned from every single musician or band out there. Listen to how your favorite musicians construct their songs examine the style, the tone, how different instruments work together and so on and so forth. You can implement many of the same ideas into your own music or even take some of their riffs and tweak them to fit your style. This is a great way to come up with new melodies.

3. Use Music Composition Software

Music composition software can be a musician's best friend. These programs aid in the writing process by organizing your work and allow you to see what you're playing. Quality software packages provide features including a metronome to keep beat, playback, so you can listen to what you've composed, input, so you can hook your instrument or microphone directly to your computer and notate a song you play or sing and tons of editing tools so you can easily compose a riff.

4. Look for Musical Inspiration

Before writing a piece of music, it's critical to feed your mind inspiration. Inspiration comes from all around us: our emotions, relationships, nature, people and experiences some songs are even about surreal situations. A big part of finding inspiration is putting yourself in situations that rouse inspiration and then recognize it when it comes.

We all have different people come into our lives; relationships have always been hot topic for songwriters. To generate other ideas get out of the house, go somewhere, and do something. This could even be something as simple as walking in the park or down the street. You'll be amazed where inspiration can be found.

5. Have Fun

You first started writing music because you love music. If you're not enjoying composing music, then do something else for a while. People tend to do what they love best.

6. There is No Wrong Answer in Music Composition

Writing music is one of those things you can do and never make a mistake. Some melodies are catchier than others are, and everyone will write some bad stanzas. It's all right; that's why we have revisions. Remember this while writing music: it will make you feel better and help you avoid writer's block.  

7. Define Your Music Composition Goal

Are you writing music for yourself or for other people? This alone will totally change the tone and style of your music. If you are writing for yourself, you have more freedom to write what and how you want.

In contrast, if you are writing for other people, it is a good idea to identify your target audience and write music they will enjoy.

8. Seek Advice and Opinions  

People are always willing to give advice and opinions; take their comments into consideration when writing music. Give your music to family members and friends to get their opinion of your songs. Though people close to you may be biased, their comments are still valuable.   

9. Do Something Different

It's easy to get stuck in a rut and all of your songs begin to sound the same. Even if you've found a great combination of notes or a catchy beat, changing it can be good and help you grow as a composer.

An easy way to try something new is pick up an instrument you haven't played before. Sometimes you find yourself playing the same old keys or strumming the same chords on your guitar. A different instrument can lead you to melodies you may not have thought of otherwise.   

10. Practice, Practice and More Practice

There is no substitute for hard work and practice it is the only formula that will guarantee you will become a better songwriter.

Maybe your next song will appear at the top of the charts

Dazzle B loves the ladies Proper
28 Jun 2018

EMERGING act Dazzle B is currently promoting his latest single titled “Proper”. The song is celebrating the beauty and healthiness of females worldwide, who appreciates that fact and wants to flaunt it.

Released in April, the single was produced by his Dazs Records and distributed by Reggae Release. The song has been
getting steady rotation on stations mainly in the United States and United Kingdom and recently gaining traction in dance hall circles in Jamaica.

“I am working extra hard with the promotions for this song and I’m getting a lot of positive response and support,” said Dazzle B.

Dazzle B is slated to perform on several upcoming shows for the summer and his latest single “Proper” is sure to be a winner among the ladies.

Jordan Mais is set to make a music video for his song “Never Seen”
27 Jun 2018

Reggae/Rocksteady artist, Jordan Mais is set to make a music video for his song “Never Seen” in September.

The song is on the Black Marble Records imprint and is produced by Fabian Salmon.

“It’s a song for lovers, embracing a moment shared, passed and longing for more,” Jordan said.

He added: “My fans can expect a lot more new material for 2018 because I have being busy at work in the studio and on various shows promoting my work and the continued preservation of Rocksteady music.”

The artiste said he has made links overseas and a growing fanbase but will remain humble, anticipating the international ‘buss’ will come in due time.

Jordan Mais is the lead singer for Jordan Mais & the Rebelistic band, which is a reggae/lovers rock/rock steady comprising of eight members.

Jordan and his band is set to give an electrifying performance at the upcoming staging of South Coast Rum Festival, on Saturday 4th, August 2018. South Coast Rum Festival is dub as the “ultimate rum, food & music festival and will be held in Portmore, St Catherine, Jamaica.

Paul Hyman – The Servant of God
31 May 2018

Born in St. Thomas on July 09, Paul Hyman began singing at school in 1989, emerging professionally in 1995. He was one of three singers in the now defunct Black by Design Band which was managed by Steven Ventura. His participation in the band was short lived as Paul was converted to Christianity in May of 2002, and so, became a Gospel singer.

He is inspired by the word of God (the Bible) and believes in His divine love, grace and mercy which is extended towards him every moment of every day. Paul’s first entrance into the music industry was in the late nineties, and he has been preparing for his breakthrough since. He has done a collaboration with Gospel artist Jermaine Gordon titled “By Your Love” which is featured on Jermaine’s debut album.

Paul has also been performing on various shows locally and is steadily building his fan base. The first track recorded was entitled “Christmas” by Black by Design and was recorded by Steven Ventura of Celestial Sounds. After his conversion, Paul, recorded two new singles entitled; “Wonderfully Made” and “Over You” for producer Alex Martin Blanken.

He has since re-recorded both of them which is set to be released soon. Other tracks include: Yahweh, Only Jesus, When Forever Comes, You are Awesome, Lord Almighty Reigns, New Jerusalem, Can’t Live Without You, and many more. His new single entitled “Let it Rain’ produced by Dwon Reid, has recently been released and is available in all major digital stores. He is currently working on a few more singles which will be released in quick succession.

Based on the overwhelming volume of songs that he currently has, you can be sure to look out for a new album in the very near future. His aspiration is that his music will be a source of strength, inspiration, guidance and upliftment to all, both Christians and non-Christians. Paul states “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for I know that it is the power of God unto salvation

Jahunique aims to inspire with new single
19 May 2018

Budding reggae/dancehall artiste Jahunique is upbeat about his latest single, 'Know It From The Start'.

He said the track, released earlier this year, aims at encouraging peace and love within the nation.

"We need to broadcast only positive messages right now. A lot of misleading information is going around, and this song is clearing up or tackling some of them. Love is what we need right now, and I hope that this message will spread to the four corners of the earth," he said.

Jahunique, whose given name is Dwayne Archer, said his social consciousness evolved from the environment that ghetto life provides.

"I grew up in one of St Catherine's toughest inner cities, but I had the love and guidance of a powerful grandmother. From her, I developed a humble spirit, and I became devoted to helping others rise," he said.

The singjay said he developed a passion for music at an early age. He previously performed under the name Sata and would later enter the Tastee Talent Trail television show.

"My journey into the competition ended at the semi-finals when I did a controversial song which encouraged the nation to uplift women. One of the three judges heavily slammed the topic, saying Rastafarians should not be singing dancehall, even though the song's content was highly conscious," he said.

He would go on to perform at various local events, including A St Mary Me Come From and the Ocho Rios Seafood Festival.

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