In a series of articles, called The Breakdown, Words & Music offers short, basic answers to the most common and essential questions from SOCAN members. This time, it’s mechanical royalties.
What are mechanical royalties?
Mechanical royalties are royalties paid to a songwriter, composer, or music publisher whenever a physical or digital copy of one of their songs or compositions is made. They’re the royalties earned from the right to mechanically re-produce your recorded song in almost any format. For example, when a record label presses a CD or vinyl album of your song, or songs on an album, you’re owed mechanical royalties. The same holds true if your music is reproduced for a digital download, or an interactive stream.
Who pays mechanical royalties?
Mechanical royalties are paid by whoever obtains a license to reproduce and distribute your song or composition. Mechanical rights are broadly based on the act of mechanically reproducing your music, and as such, are one type of what are called “reproduction rights.”
Who collects mechanical royalties?
Until 2018, a music publisher, or a self-published songwriter or composer, accessed their reproduction royalties either via the CMRRA (the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency), or SODRAC (the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers & Publishers in Canada). In 2018, SOCAN acquired SODRAC, and added mechanical rights administration into our collection and distribution services. Now SOCAN can help you collect mechanical royalties, both in Canada and foreign territories. One registration now means two rights collected (both performance rights and mechanical rights), should you choose to assign both those rights to SOCAN.
How are mechanical royalties collected?
The collection organization (the CMRRA or SOCAN) grants mechanical licenses to people or organizations who want to reproduce music for public sale or broadcast, in exchange for the payment of license fees, which it then distributes as royalties to the songwriters, composers, and music publishers who created and administer that music.