Eldee has come out to share a ton
of knowledge on Twitter regarding
the music business which is
centered around copyrights, music
publishing and licencing.
The singer believes hoarding knowledge about
such is what stifles growth and hinders
Nigerian upcoming artistes can benefit from
this reservoir of knowledge from the music
Check on his tweets.
To discuss publishing, we have to understand
copyrights. I want to start by explaining
As Part 1, I will attempt to break down music
copyrights, what it is, who owns what, and why
it is important.
Part 2 will break down Publishing, what it is,
how it works, and why it’s important. Part 3,
Forgive me if I use “big grammar” every now
and then but please call me out to explain
anything that isn’t clear.
This will be explained in detail when we get to
Part 3 (licensing) and I’ll attempt to give advice
on best practices
Ok. My ‘KnowYourRights’ tweet session starts
now. I’m doing this to help creators
understand their creations and how to better
I assume many already understand copyright
but for the benefit of those who don’t, come
along for the ride. You may acquire new
Today we are discussing Music copyrights.
COPYRIGHTS give music creators material
rights to control ways their songs can be used.
As a creator, copyrights are automatically
yours as soon as the material is recorded in
writing or other digital ways.
Say you come up with an original song idea,
once the song is in a tangible format, you
automatically have legal copyrights.
You could be in the shower & get inspired with
some original melodies. Once you write it
down or record it on a phone, you own the
The idea is that once the melodies leave your
head and are recorded into a tangible
medium, you own the copyrights.
Tangible format means it is written on paper,
recorded on a tape, CD, mp3, or other formats
that can allow you to give it to someone else.
Important: If you do not have the work in
tangible format, you can not prove that you
are the original creator, therefore, give yasef
Tangible formats for your work also helps to
time-stamp the work. This will be useful to you
if you need proof later of when you created it.
VERY important: For you to own the copyrights,
the work must be ORIGINAL in the sense that
it has not been copied from another work.
If you use previously known melody or lyrics
in your work, you can’t claim full ownership of
copyrights on such work.
If you borrow from existing music, the original
writer/composer owns copyrights of your new
creation & you must get permission to sell it.
Remember, for you to own copyrights, the
work must be recorded in writing or other
formats (on a CD, tape, mp3 or other digital
What do copyrights do for you as a creator? –
The general idea is to give you control over
how people interact with or use your work.
Your control of the copyrights of your works is
what enables you to exploit your creation i.e.
Make money from it.
Copyrights prohibits all others from the use of
a song without the express authorization of the
creator or copyright owner.
Copyrights can only be transferred from the
creator to someone else on a document that is
signed by both parties.
Any use of a musical work in which copyright
exists without the express authorization of the
owner is an infringement.
When you sign a record deal, you are giving
the record label authorization to sell the songs
you will create during the contract.
When you sign with a VAS company to sell your
ringtones and ring back tunes, you are giving
them authorization. Get it?
You can also give authorization to a person or
company which allows them to give
authorizations to others on your behalf.
Now lets break down the copyrights that exist
in a song…Who is a Songwriter? Composer?
There is a distinction between the
SONGWRITER(S) and COMPOSER(S) that create a
song and the PERFORMER(S) that record the
Songwriters come up with the words/lyrics/
melodies. Composers create melodies/beats
and a Performer is the person who sings it
Songwriters & composers are similar. They
both create melodies. Difference is composers
typically don’t write lyrics but don’t quote me
Semantics of the Composer/Songwriter
distinction is on-going argument in many
circles. I’ll go in depth in another session.
To simplify it for now, think of a Composer as
what we call “producer” nowadays and
Songwriter as the person who writes the word/
Sometimes the Performer (Artist) is also the
Songwriter, or even the Composer as well. I
was that guy on my first 2 albums.
I hope all of this makes sense so far. I promise
to try to answer all the questions once I’m
Ok, moving on, There are 2 copyrights in every
recording. Represented by the ℗ and ©. You’ve
probably seen those on CD inserts & credits.
The ℗ is the SOUND RECORDING copyright
symbol. The ℗ actually stands for
“phonogram”. This copyright belongs to the
The © is the copyright for the song (lyrics,
composition). It belongs to the songwriter and/
Eg. John Lennon & Paul McCartney wrote
Boys2men recorded a version (Performers)
while signed to Motown.
Breaks down like this: Paul McCartney & John
Lennon own the ©. Motown owns the ℗ and
pays Boys 2 Men royalties from selling the
Important: Boys2Men do not own the © nor
the ℗ for that song. They simply get royalties
from the sale of their own version by their
Owning the © means you or your
representative has to authorize anybody who
wants to use your work in whole or as a part of
So Boys2Men/Motown must get permission
from Paul McCartney & John Lennon or the
publisher in order to record the song & sell it.
Another example: I wrote & produced the
Goldie(RIP) song “You know it”, so I own the ©.
She was signed to kennis Music so they own
If Rihanna records the song, I still own the ©,
& RocNation owns the ℗ for the new version.
Kennis still owns the ℗ for Goldie’s version.
Long story short: Songwriters and Composers
are the original rights owners of lyrics and
melody, the ©.
Record label owns and can only exploit its
recorded version, its own SOUND RECORDING,
the ℗ copyright. It is sometimes called the
Some songwriters/composers give their song
copyright © to the record label as well.
Depends on what you sign with the record
Music publishers often acquire © copyrights
from songwriters/composers. We’ll discuss
publishing and types of publishing deals later.
Simply put, song copyright © protects your
lyrics & melody only. Sound recording
copyright ℗ covers that particular recording of
Next… There are 6 different copyright
authorizations that can be issued to third
parties who wish to use your work/song.
6 copyrights when you create a song –
Distribution, Reproduction, Public
Performance, Digital transmissions,
Derivatives, Public display.
These rights allow you to choose who can
distribute, reproduce, play in public, play on
radio, show it on tv, sell ringtones etc.
I’m sure by now you’ll agree that its imperative
to have a lawyer if you’re in this business, and
not just any lawyer.
In order to make sense of Music publishing,
you must have a clear understanding of music
The former record label executive has stated
he would continue with music publishing notes
next. Watch out for this.