What are mechanical royalties? Mechanical copyrights explained

What are mechanical royalties? Mechanical copyrights explained

Mechanical Royalties explained

Who collects mechanical royalties for your music? We’ll explain what they are, where they come from, and how to collect mechanical royalties.

Understanding the copyrights behind music can seem overwhelmingly confusing but it’s not. All it takes is a simple explanation to clear the fog over music copyrights, who’s entitled to them, and why and that’s what we’re here to do in this article. For an overview of all the most common copyrights in music check out our article here.

Define mechanical royalties

Mechanical royalties in music are generated from the reproduction of a musical composition. Traditionally these royalties were generated every time a composition was reproduced in the form of a vinyl or CD pressing.

Nowadays mechanical royalties are also generated from on demand (interactive) digital streaming and downloads. Whenever a track is played on demand or downloaded in digital form the underlying composition is being reproduced, therefore generating a mechanical royalty. The same on demand stream would generate a mechanical royalty and a performance royalty, this is due to a public performance & reproduction of the composition. A good example of both royalties being generated would be a stream of a track from Spotify, whereas a digital download would only generate a mechanical royalty.

Who collects mechanical royalties?

When mechanical royalties are generated it is the composition copyright owner who is rightfully owed them. How the composition owner gets paid depends on a number of factors, in particular how the composition has been reproduced & in what territory.

For example, in the US a physical copy or a digital download of a track generates a minimum mechanical royalty of 9.1 cents per track that is reproduced, whereas an interactive stream of a track is licensed and paid out by online stores using a formula based on their own parameters.

These mechanical royalties will be collected by your nations MRO’s (Mechanical rights organizations)
In the U.S this would be the MLC, Harry Fox agency & MusicReports, in the UK this would be MCPS (aka one half of PRS for Music – a joint venture between PRS & MCPS)

How to collect mechanical royalties

To collect your mechanical royalties from a collection agency you will need to sign up to a membership with them. The collection agencies available to you will depend on your location and will usually cost a fee to sign up with.

How to get a mechanical license for a cover song?

How to get a copyright license is a common question for artists. A mechanical license may be required if you want to release a cover song.

You can distribute cover songs using RouteNote to Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Nuuday, Anghami, and JioSaavn without a license. You can also distribute to our other partners if you exclude the USA, Canada, Mexico, India, and Pakistan from the territories you want to distribute your music to.

To distribute in all stores worldwide, you will need to get a mechanical license. There are a number of sources you can get a mechanical license from, such as:


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