Bit2Music Business Blog!
In the modern world there are many different income streams available to authors and
performers. Here is a summary of the main income streams:
(a) Income from public performances on radio, television, downloads and
streaming on the Internet, live performances, concerts, bars, shops,
hairdressing salons and anywhere a work is played or heard in public.
(b) Income from mechanical licences when recordings on such sound carriers
as CDs, cassettes and vinyl are sold to the public. Mechanical licences are
licences issued by authors and publishers to phonogram producers,
allowing them to legally sell records containing a work.
(c) Income from mechanical licences when works are the subject of
downloads, streaming on the Internet or as ring tones or real tones.
(d) Income from synchronisation licences when the work is synchronised to
visual images, video or film.
(e) Income from the sale of printed sheet music or scores or from graphic
downloads on the internet.
(f) Income from home copying levies.
(a) Income from fees for live performances in front of audiences at festivals,
concert venues, clubs and private events.
(b) Income from royalties when a phonogram producer (record company or
label) sells a fixed performance (recording) to the public on a physical
sound carrier such as vinyl, cassettes or CDs
(c) Income from royalties when a phonogram producer sells a recording on the
Internet as a download, by streaming or as a mobile phone ring tone or real tone.
(d) Income from public performances when a recording is played on the radio,
on television, or in public (such as in an arena, a discothèque, club, juke
box, shop or a hairdressing salon etc.).
(e) Income from ‘master re-use’ or synchronisation when a recording is
synchronised to visual images, video or film.
(f) Income from home copying levies.
(g) Income from sponsorship and branding.
As can be seen from the above, there are many different ways of making a living from
the creation of music, but how do authors or performers ensure they are getting paid
properly for all these different uses? In the early days of an artist’s musical career
when there is not much money available he/she will almost certainly have to do
This will involve becoming a member of the appropriate collection
societies and correctly registering all works and/or recordings with the collection
societies as soon as possible after they have been created or recorded. (See the
section on collection societies on page 59 for more information on how to do that.)
If things go well, it will then be necessary for an author or a performer to build a team
around their creative endeavours. This team could include the following:
(a) A manager (or a music-in-film agent)
(b) A publisher
(c) A lawyer
(d) An accountant
(e) A film composition agent
(f) A webmaster for the author’s website
(a) A manager
(b) A phonogram producer
(c) A booking agent for live appearances
(d) A lawyer
(e) An accountant
(f) A tour manager
(g) Sound and lighting engineers
(h) ‘Roadies’ who set up and supervise the equipment on stage
(i) A choreographer (if help is needed with special dance movements)
(j) A make-up artist
(k) A wardrobe assistant
(l) A publicist
(m) A photographer
(n) A plugger (someone who works to get records played on the radio or
(o) A graphic designer (for artwork on CDs etc.)
(p) A studio producer
(q) A travel agent
(r) A visa or work permit agent
(s) A freight agent
(t) A merchandiser
(u) A webmaster for the performer’s website
Of course it may be that an author or performer feels that only two or three of the
above are necessary, at least to start with. Most authors and performers wish to
focus on what they do best, which is to write and perform music and don’t wish to
spend too much time on the business aspect. They will usually engage a manager to
look after all their business dealings but they should still engage a specialist music
business lawyer, if possible, for independent advice.
As can be seen from the above lists, an author has much less to do than does a
performer. An author who is not a performer will generally rely heavily on his/her
publisher and/or manager to exploit the works by encouraging performers to record
them and by placing them on television, in films and advertising. Most authors are
also performers so they will need a combination of the above.
A phonogram producer will often supply many of the services included in the
performer’s list, such as a publicist, plugger, graphic designer, photographer, etc. as
part of the recording contract. The performer should try and obtain as much artistic
control as possible in such contracts in order to have a say in who these people are
and how they operate.