Unlocking the mystery of neighbouring rights in music

Writer Rutger Beijer
Last updated Sep 2023
In the dynamic realm of the music industry, understanding the intricate web of rights and royalties is a crucial part of an artist's journey. One of these less-understood yet vital elements is the concept of neighbouring rights. This article aims to shine a spotlight on neighbouring rights, the revenue they generate, eligibility criteria, and how artists and record labels can make the most out of them.

What are Neighbouring Rights?
Neighbouring rights, also known as related rights, are a type of copyright that applies to the public performance of sound recordings. Essentially, they refer to the rights of performers and producers in their recordings. These rights come into play when a recording of a performance is played publicly, such as on radio, television, or even in a restaurant or store.
The term "neighbouring" is used because these rights exist in close relation to, but are distinct from, the copyright in the underlying composition of the song, which is typically controlled by the songwriter or their publisher.

The Revenue Pool: Where does the money come from?
The primary sources of revenue from neighbouring rights are royalties paid by broadcasters and digital streaming platforms. These royalties are generated every time a recording is publicly performed or broadcast. This includes traditional mediums like radio and TV, as well as digital platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.
For example, when your favorite radio station plays a song, they pay a fee to the respective Collective Management Organization (CMO). These funds are then distributed as royalties to the rights holders – the performing artists and record labels involved in creating the recording.

Eligibility: Who can collect Neighbouring Rights Royalties?
In essence, the eligible parties for neighbouring rights royalties include the owner of the sound recording (often the record label), the featured performing artist, and non-featured performers such as session musicians and backup singers.

The Road to Collection: How to Claim Your Royalties
Collecting neighbouring rights royalties involves registering with a Collective Management Organization (CMO) such as SENA (Netherlands) or PPL (United Kingdom). CMOs collect royalties from users (like broadcasters and digital platforms) and distribute them to rights holders.
Before you can start collecting royalties, you need to register your recordings with your chosen CMO. This typically involves providing information about the recording, such as the title, performing artists, and other relevant details. Once registered, the CMO will track the usage of your recordings, collect the appropriate royalties, and distribute them to you.

In the United States, artists cannot collect any Neighbouring Rights Royalties. Artists can collect Digital Performance Royalties

In Conclusion
Navigating the maze of rights and royalties in the music industry can be daunting, but understanding neighbouring rights is a significant step in the right direction. These rights provide a valuable source of income for artists, session musicians, and record labels, making them a crucial part of the music industry's economic structure.
Remember, the key to maximizing your neighbouring rights royalties lies in registering your recordings with a reputable CMO. This will ensure that your creative efforts are rewarded every time your music reaches the ears of your audience, no matter where in the world they may be.