Your Quick Guide to Performance Rights Services Lingo

PRS Societies World MapWe know you’ve lain awake at night wondering how you and your artists are going to get paid for your song being played in a gastropub in Berlin, at a mall in Rio de Janeiro, or in that exotic French restaurant on the Solomon Islands. Unless you have friends spreading the good word in the myriad islands in the Pacific, though, it’s very unlikely that you have a direct line to the radio stations in the Solomon Islands (did you know that radio is the most influential type of media there?). That’s where The Orchard comes in, collecting that precious revenue on your behalf.

The Orchard is the largest supplier of digital music in the world, and we’re the only distributor that has worldwide representation on the ground. With offices and connections to collection societies in over thirty countries, we make sure that you’re well-represented in and well-connected to as many markets as possible. So you can rest assured that if your song is played in that exotic French restaurant in the Solomon Islands, we know about it.

The Performance Rights Services (PRS) department does a great deal of things here at The Orchard. Our responsibilities include, but are not limited to: collecting revenue for royalties, creating repertoire metadata to send to collection societies, receiving and analyzing payment statements from collections societies, and maintaining claims on tracks you own. Because these tasks can be complex and sometimes nebulous, it can be hard to completely understand just what it is our department does and how we do it. To help you and your artists better understand the processes, we’ve compiled a short glossary of important terms and concepts that together help define PRS. These are some terms you might see when discussing Performance Rights Services:

Master Rights: The rights to the recording of a composition. The owner of the Master Rights owns the actual recording of the song.

Neighboring Rights: These are used mainly in Europe, but are exactly equivalent to Master Rights.

Intellectual Property: Refers to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized. These include copyrights, patents, trademarks and industrial design rights. For instance, Mickey Mouse, the blueprints for a Boeing 747, and a demo of Lil Jon’s “Get Low” are all examples of intellectual property.

Copyrights: A set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute, and adapt the work.

Public Domain (or “PD”): When copyrights for a particular track expire and the song can be used by anyone with no need to report to or pay the original creator or publisher. Copyright law differs depending on the country. In most cases, songs enter into the public domain 50-70 years after the death of the original author or creator. More information on copyright lengths can be found here.

Publishers: Music publishers are entities that sign songwriters to agreements and can either own or control the rights to the compositions.

Mechanicals: These are royalties that are paid to publishers from physical/digital sales.

P-line: The P-line is made up of two parts: The P-name includes the name of the master rights owner of a song, while the P-date is the date of the track’s or album’s first release. (e.g. 2014 The Orchard)

C-line: This includes the name of the owner of the cover art on an album or single. (e.g. 2014 The Orchard)

Synchronization: The pairing of a recording artist’s music to a video. In most cases, this refers music videos, movies, television, or commercials and advertisements.

Composition: Put simply, this is the song written by a songwriter or composer. Composition refers to both the musical and lyrical aspects of any given song, as well as a song with or without lyrics.

Re-recording: A new performance or recording of a contemporary or previously recorded track. A re-recording is often colloquially referred to as a re-record. A cover song (sometimes referred to simply as a cover) often falls into this category, as it, too, is a re-recorded version of a track usually already commercially released.

Remaster: Generally a sound quality enhancement of a previously existing recording. A remastered track is often colloquially referred to as a remaster.

There are, of course, more aspects to Performance Rights Services, and they will be discussed thoroughly in future blog posts. The above terms are a good start for getting to know this department, what we do, and how we do all we can to make you more money and get your music to new listeners all over the globe.

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