How is Rights Management Used in Music Today?
The management of publishing rights has always been complicated in the music industry. Those responsible for making sure that songwriters and recording artists are paid royalties due to them have had to track when songs were aired by radio stations, make decisions as to whether recordings could be licensed for use in advertising and grant permissions to bands to play songs in clubs and bars, among many other tasks.
The ability to record music in a digital format rather than on tape or vinyl records has made it possible to copy and reproduce recordings of songs without losing the sound quality. Advances in Internet technology and increased bandwidth has made it possible for music lovers to share digital files of sound recordings easily. This has made the task of rights management even more complex than before. In addition to tracking airings of songs by radio stations, those responsible for managing the rights to songs must also keep track of how often songs are posted or shared through social media sites on the Internet.
The ease of copying recordings of songs has brought about vast change in the music industry. A few vinyl recordings are still manufactured each year for those who insist that analog recordings deliver more realistic sound quality than digital recordings, but CDs are no longer printed. Almost all sound recordings are now downloaded. This means that record labels have had to devise new ways of marketing their products and managing the rights to those products. Large investments in technology designed to thwart unauthorized and illegal copying and reselling of songs have yielded the realization that the best way to prevent piracy is to make it more convenient for the average consumer to purchase recordings legally than illegally.
Some of the latest releases of popular songs are marketed in such a way that a music lover pays a small fee to download a copy of a recording of a popular song. The user may have to agree to not copy and sell the download, or the publisher may insert a tag or watermark in the recording to ease the investigation of music piracy. Many consumers subscribe to a service that allows them unlimited downloads from an online catalog of song titles. Songs may be rendered unplayable if the subscription lapses. The service that makes a catalog of songs available for unlimited download pays an annual or one-time blanket licensing fee to the holders of the rights of the songs in the catalog.