When you see a commercially successful musician display his earthly possessions and a hedonistic lifestyle, you are tempted to ask how all these riches manifested. The answer is not far-fetched; a majority of the lot makes the most money from the sale of musical works, brand partnerships, merchandising, and live engagements.

This blog post is more concerned with the monies realized from the exploitation of musical works. The quantum of what is earned is dependent on tens of factors. But we identify the streams in this post.

Sale dictates everything. The sale of musical works generates all manner of Royalties.

Royalties in the music business means money’s worth, payment, and reward for value.

The concept of royalties guarantees that songwriters, producers, right holders, and other investors in musical works, earn revenue from the exploitation of the works across various platforms.

Usually, royalties can be obtained through licensing. Licensing in this stead is like the authority given to someone, business entity or a group of people to use your work. Just like a driver’s license, a licensing in music has an expiry date depending on the decision of the rights owner.A license however does not alienate propriety right in music it only gives the user the authority to use the works upon an agreed payment structure for a period of time.

There are different types of licensing that are obtainable to the right owners;

Mechanical licensing: grants permission to use works through digital downloads, audio streams, etc.

Synchronization licensing: grants permission to include music in a movie, Television, commercials, or any other moving image.

Public performance licensing: grants permission to use works in public spaces like hotels, restaurants, malls, airports, clubs etc.

It is almost impossible for music right owners to track all musical works exploited in public spaces due to the amount of time, energy and resources such a venture would require.

However, there are important entities with assigned responsibility to ensure that adequate remuneration is paid by music users. These entities are called Collective Management Organizations (CMO).  An example of such in Nigeria is the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON). They receive payments from music users and remit to the right owners after deducting an agreed percentage for administrative and logistics cost.

Songwriters, record producers, composers, instrumentalists, and other rights owners, also earn revenue from permanently disposing their works through sale. It could be the sale of beats, scripts, compositions, etc via WORK FOR HIRE agreements. This way they make a lot of money off a one-time payment because once it is sold, it becomes the property of the buyer and the initial owner has no claims to it any longer.

It is important to note that the assignment (sale) of musical works can only be done through a written agreement.

This post offers some insights on how musicians make money in the music business.

If you have got any thoughts to share, please use the comment section.

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