My name is Chris. Today, it's been officially one month since I joined ProCollabs (Happy Monthday to me !) I have a few questions because I didn't find the answer in the FAQ.
- I know that there is a difference between composition copyrights and recording copyrights but who legally owns the master of a song on ProCollabs? Is it the project manager, or the collaborator who made the master, or all the collaborators? (Equal Shares)
- Who can add a song on Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, etc? Is it the singer only, or the person who created the master, or the project manager, or all the collaborators? (Equal Shares)
Thank you for your help.
Originally posted by ChrisBasemake on Fri 16 Apr, 2021
Hi, Chris. Happy Monthday to you. Welcome, and I hope you are having fun!
Here are my thoughts on your questions.. Hope they make sense!
Regarding who legally owns the master, that is a question answered only at the point of completing the project. At completion (when closing the project), all collaborators must review and accept their assignment in each of the copyrights. That includes both songwriting and master copyrights. To put it another way, there is no default, it is something to be determined and agreed upon by all who participated.
That being said, it is only the project manager who can assign the copyrights and credits for the project. However, nobody should "sign-off" if they are unhappy about the splits, as, once completed, I would say that that is the point at which you can then point to the actual legal owners of both the composition and master copyrights for the song (and their percentages).
As a rule of thumb, master copyrights would normally be assigned to everyone who participates in producing and recording the song while anyone involved in writing the composition and lyrics would be assigned a share in the songwriting. I.e. If I wrote the lyrics, I would get a share in the songwriting and not the master.
Of course, that not necessarily the case if you have employed a musician or mix engineer as a work-for-hire. In that case, you have paid them for their contribution and in return, you own the copyrights in their contributed work so would not be obligated to assign a share in the copyrights.
As far as who gets what, I don't think it is uncommon to assign splits equally. Certainly helps avoid arguments! But this is certainly a key point. It is normally best to try to make it clear up-front what the splits will be. This is the purpose of assigning the appropriate project collaboration agreement when you start the project.
For example, if you have already written the lyrics and music already, and just need to produce the song, then selecting the Songwriter agreement tells others that you intend to share the master copyrights, but not the songwriting. Of course, nothing is concrete until the project is completed, but at least it's a start in setting expectations when members consider getting involved and contributing.
One more point to mention is probably the question of, ok, before the project is completed, who owns what?? And in that case, it is the individual who created it. So basically, when I upload a guitar track to your project, I continue to own the master copyright in that individual recording. In other words, if we have a disagreement during the project collaboration and I decide I'm no longer interested in participating, and I delete my track, even if you happen to have downloaded and have a copy on your hard drive, you may not use it in your project and should probably just delete it. Hence, not a bad idea, in general, to keep a project active and get it finished, before anyone changes their mind!
Therefore, who can post the song on Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, etc.? That, I believe, would be ANY of the master copyright owners (with the obligation then to share out any income accordingly).
I.e., unless the songwriters have some ownership in the master, they would not be able to post the master on Spotify, etc. In theory, they get their cut by registering the song with their PRO (good luck with that!).
That said, if you have a specific purpose for the project (like you are producing it to submit to an exclusive film opportunity, and posting in the public domain would put that opp at risk) then again, all intentions should be communicated upfront and agreed upon.
FYI, I am not a lawyer or a music business guru, so welcome others with more knowledge to contribute to this one ;) But hope it helps answer some of your questions.
You might also find this post useful: https://www.procollabs.com/forum/6/31
Originally posted by MonkeyC on Fri 16 Apr, 2021