What are Mechanical Royalties?

mechanica music royalties
Image Credit: Pro Audio Files

The music industry might seem complex (and it is) for the newbie artist. There is so much to learn and know. But the learning never stops. Even some seasoned musicians are not clued up about certain music business subjects. In the following blog post I will be discussing mechanical royalties and hopefully after reading this you will have gained a better insight.

So without further delays let’s get into it.

How do you earn mechanical royalties?

Before I answer this, let me first explain to you what a mechanical royalty is.

Mechanical royalties in music are paid to the songwriter each time music is reproduced or a format transfer takes place. I know this might not sound like basic definition for some of you so I’ll explain this further.

There are two types of copyrights to each song, namely the composition and the master rights or recording.

The composition consists of the lyrics and melody of the music and the master rights/recordings is the sound recording version.  The former is controlled or owned by the songwriter or publisher while the latter is controlled by the record label or performer or the music distributor in some rare cases.

how mechanical royalties are paid
Image Credit: Royalty Exchange

Now let’s get to the exciting part and find out how you earn mechanical royalties.

Let’s say the record label you are signed to manufactures 5000 CD’s; that means you are entitled to a mechanical royalty per copy whether the product is sold or not.

But why?  

Remember I said you earn money each time your music is reproduced? By virtue of printing and manufacturing physical products the label has to pay a mechanical because they are reproducing the music. Get it?

However that’s not the only way to earn mechanical rights.

Below are various ways of earning mechanical royalties:

  • Digital Downloads
  • Ringtones
  • Soundtracks
  • Audio and video streaming

Who collects mechanical royalties?

In order to receive your music royalties, you first need to register with different collection societies in your country and around the globe.

In South Africa CAPASSO is responsible for collecting mechanical royalties on your behalf. But it is your responsibility as artist to ensure that your personal details and music is captured on their system on a regular basis.

CAPASSO requires that you submit “notification of works” form each time you have or release new music. If you have a music publisher, they can submit the documents on your behalf.

Capasso diagram on royalties
Image Credit: CAPASSO


Below I have included a list of previous articles which you can read for further information.

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