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Intellectual Property and Media Law Term Glossary


The monies paid to artists up front as part of part of their recording deal. Artists use the advance as their recording fund (see below). They can keep whatever portion of the advance they don't use to record. The advance is recouped against future record royalties.
Artist Royalties
Artists are paid approximately 10%-12% of the royalties generated by their record's sales once the record label recoups the advance and expenses associated with the records distribution.
Compulsory Mechanical License
This license allows anyone to record and distribute on a record, cd or mp3, a commercially available and non-dramatic musical composition, as long as the compulsory license fee set by the U.S. Copyright Office is paid. The current rate, as of 2009, is 9.1 cents per song or 1.75 cents per minute of playing time (per record sold).
(defined in the "Film" section).
The company that distributes the music to vendors. This function is performed by the record label (see below) if the artist had a record deal, or by an independent distributor hired by an independent artists to distribute their music.
Harry Fox Agency
It administers mechanical rights for publishers in the U.S. that use its services. It issues mechanical licenses, collects, audits and litigates against record companies and copyright infringers. It charges a commission for its services that is calculated on the monies that it distributes
Independent Record Producer
A record producer that does not have a deal with record label to produce music.
Label or Record Label
The company that enters into the Recording Artist Contract (see below) with the artist, pays the advance and distributes the music.
Master Recording
The performance of a musical composition on a record.
Mechanical License
Copyright holders have the exclusive right to record and distribute their music on records ( c.d., mp3, audiotape, etc), but can allow others to do so via a Mechanical License. This license is not to be confused with the "Compulsory Mechanical License".
Music Publisher
The person or company that administers the publishing of musical compositions.
Music Publishing
The rights to the underlying music. The recorded music is the master recording, which is controlled by the record label. The underlying musical composition is controlled by the music publisher, which can be the artist, record producer and/or record label (depending on whether the producer and/or label acquired an interest in the music publishing).
Performing Rights Organizations
Composers and music publishers affiliate with one of the 3 Performing Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC) and entrust them to issue performance rights licenses, track performances, and collect and distribute licensing revenues.
Producer Royalties
The royalties allocated to producers for their role in producing artist's record.
Recording Artist Contract
The contract between a record label or production company and the recording artist.
Recording Fund
The recording budget and monies allocated to an artist by either the record label or an independent record producer
Synchronization License
A license issued by the music publisher and/or copyright holder that gives the licensee the right to marry a song with a visual image, i.e., a motion picture. in producing artist's record.

This dictionary is not a complete review of the subject matter and, as such, the reader should not make decisions on the basis of the above without consulting with an attorney.