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What Are Mechanical Royalties?
What Are Mechanical Royalties?

A quick breakdown of one of the most essential elements on the business side of the music industry.

Updated over a week ago

In the music industry, mechanical royalties refer to the payments made to the copyright holder of a musical composition for the right to reproduce and distribute that composition.

These royalties are generated when a recorded version of a song is manufactured, distributed, or streamed. So when a CD or vinyl record is pressed up or your song gets played on a service like Apple Music or Spotify, the copyright owner gets paid a mechanical royalty.

Mechanical royalties are distinct from performance royalties, which are earned when a song is publicly performed, such as on the radio or during concerts.

The term "mechanical" royalties originated from the early days of the music industry when music was almost exclusively physically reproduced, such as on vinyl records or CDs. Though that still happens today, with digital distribution and streaming being the dominant formats now, the term may seem somewhat outdated but mechanical royalties still applies to the reproduction and distribution of music .

Mechanical royalties are typically paid by record labels or digital music services to the music publishers and songwriters. The rates for mechanical royalties can vary and may be determined through negotiation or established by copyright laws and royalty collection organizations.

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