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Collection Societies – Why do we need them?

Collection Societies are needed to protect the rights of musicians and songwriters, to monitor the performance of musical works and to make sure musicians get paid!

A publisher will grant a license for a song to be performed or recorded and radio stations must make a record of what songs have been played. Larger stations purchase a blanket license so that all material played is paid for in advance. This money is then distributed amongst the members of the appropriate collection societies. Every venue or public area in which music is performed must have a license to do so.


There are two rights in every recorded track, (copyright in the musical and lyrical composition and a separate copyright in the actual sound recording) so every time a track is played in public, there are two license fees to be paid – one goes to PRS who pass the money on to the person or people who wrote the composition and the other goes to PPL who pass the money onto the people who performed on the track. If you have done both, then you can receive two royalty streams.


The Performing Right Society is an organization for songwriters and composers. It collects royalties for the performance of music and distributes to its members. All venues and internet streaming services must have a PRS license.


The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society collects money for songwriters and composers for the use of their material in recordings. The ‘mechanical right’, as administered by MCPS, consists of two of these rights:

  • the right to copy the work;
  • the right to issue copies of the work in public;

Mechanicals refer to the use of music in CDs, Computer games, Records Feature films, Audio tapes Websites, Music DVDs, Telephone ringtones, TV and Radio Novelty products and Videos Commercials. Money is collected from the sale of these items and distributed to the members.


The Phonographic Performance Limited collects royalties on behalf of performers for the broadcast of their work. The royalties are distributed to record companies, session musicians and performers. PPL licenses are required by venues to pay a fee to its members for the public performance of their music on CD or radio.

Other Societies

ASCAP and BMI are US societies which have agreements with the PRS to pay songwriters and composers for the public performance of works

 Important Point

Song-writing royalties are split between the publisher and the songwriter, usually 50/50. If you do not have a publisher, but you are registered with the relevant societies, you can claim 100% of the royalties. However, a large publisher can get your songs placed more effectively.

By Juan Lopez, Legal Consultant

Image source: Mike Licht

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Does your “intellectual property” qualify for copyright protection?

The following Four Stage Test will help you determine whether copyright subsists in your work.

1. Your work must belong to a protected category of works[1].
  • Primary Works: original literary (lyrics), musical (compositions), dramatic (dance capable of being performed) or artistic works (photographs, sculptures)
  • Secondary or Derivative Works (usually carrying primary works): sound recordings, films, broadcasts, printed materials.

Not protected categories of works or types of work for which copyright might be difficult to establish:

  • Ideas, procedures, methods (including business methods), systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, descriptions or explanations.
  • Familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or colouring; mere listings of ingredients or contents.
  • Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)

[info_box] Metallica could not have a monopoly in metal music. Anyone else is free to write a metal song since the concept of metal music is not protected by copyright[/info_box]

2. You idea must have been worked into a material form.
  • No copyright in an “idea” unfixed into any material form.
  • Importance of keeping mere ideas un-privatised and in the public domain.

Not protected:

  • Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, musical performances that have not been written down or recorded, improvisational speeches, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded)

[info_box]A musician may perform a song while playing the guitar without recording in some way. Copyright does not subsist in such work unless they are recorded, in writing or otherwise. [/info_box]

3. The work is original to you.
  • Originality rests on whether or not the work embodies skill, talent, work and effort.
  • A work may embody some elements not original to the author (provided such elements are not themselves entitled to copyright protection) but must embody some significant overall original expression or embellishment.

[info_box]The work does not have to be unique, or even particularly meritorious. Rather, originality is taken to require that the work in question originated from the author and that it was not copied from another work.[/info_box]

4. The author of the work must be a qualifying person.
  • British Nationals residing overseas.
  • Persons residing in the UK, UK overseas territories or the European Economic Community.
  • Company incorporated under the laws of any Part of the UK.
  • Persons residing in any of the ‘Convention Countries’ (of which the UK is part of).

[1] Section 1(1) of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 – CDPA

by Juan Lopez, Legal Consultant 

[notice_box]For trusted copyright infringement letters and various copyright related contracts templates please visit The Music Law Contracts page[/notice_box]

The Role of Sanctuary Management in Iron Maiden’s career 1978-1980 Pt1.

Iron Maiden career has lasted for over thirty years, spans across four decades and has reached sales of over sixty million records worldwide of its twenty four releases. This article compiles and analyses the business decisions from the years from 1978 until 1980. This period of time was decided on because it was then when first contact with their management was made and important decisions about deals and touring were taken.

Whether the same business models and decisions would work for a band wanting to achieve success today is very much arguable. In retrospective, this snapshot in Maiden’s career is a great example of a band’s self-believe, perseverance and hard-work and the skill of the management who capitalised on the band’s momentum, realised their potential and send their career rocketing in a matter of months; even at a time when the music climate wasn’t necessarily conductive to Heavy Metal as Iron Maiden played it.

Most of the biographical information was taken from the band’s authorised biography by Mick Wall. Music business books were used to analyse and put into perspective the business decisions taken at the time by the band and its management.

First management involvement in Iron Maiden’s career and its role in the act’s early days

In the new year’s eve of 1978 Iron Maiden recorded their first demo at Spaceward studios in Cambridge in a 24 hour session at a cost of £200. In the following months they handed out the demo to various venues and djs in a bid to get gigs and exposure outside of the east-end of London where they were already well known by then.

One of the copies reached Rod Smallwood by late 1979. He liked the songs so much he decided to contact the band and come down to some of their gigs, at first, to informally give them some advice. Rod had previously worked as a booking agent and artist manager but was planning at that time to go back to university to become a lawyer (Wall, 2004:71).

Rod would work with the band without actually signing a contract for the next few months and as described by Steve Harris (bassist and band leader): “It was all down to trust”. The first management agreement was put down on paper after Rod had actually arranged their signing to EMI and publishers Zomba (Wall, 2004:86).

Until the end of 1979, Steve Harris (band’s bassist) had organised the band’s work and taken all the important decisions. He had found the members, written the songs, made posters, booked gigs, etc (Wall, 2004:71).

How was the Iron Maiden fanbase built.

Their fanbase was initially built locally in the east end of London by playing the live circuit in venues  such as the The Harrow (Barking), Plough (Leytonstone) Bridgehouse (Canning Town) and the Ruskin Arms (New Cross).

With the help of  DJ Neal Kay, they would play venues in Camden, Kinsbury and the Marquee in Wardour Street. Iron Maiden would become notorious for they live performances and word of mouth would help them attract more and more fans to their live shows.

What media outlets were the key supporters of the Iron Maiden.

Around the time, Neal Kay was a notorious heavy metal London DJ who organised gigs at the ‘Bandwagon Heavy Metal Soundhouse’ in Kingsbury, north-west London (Wall, 2004:66). Neal also compiled a heavy metal chart that was featured in a magazine called ‘Sounds’ and in which Iron Maiden ranked well, reaching number 1 and 7th positions with their four-tracks demo. There were only 4 major Music magazines: NME, Music Melody, Record Mirror and Sounds at that time in 1979.

In the summer of 1979, Neal Kay decided to book the three better charting bands of the his chart for a gig at the Music Machine in Camden Town (later to be called Camden Palace and now called KOKO). Iron Maiden performance was favourably reviewed by Sounds journalist Geoff Barton and the magazine started to feature more and more about the underground music movement called NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) of which Iron Maiden was ‘riding the crest’ (Wall, 2004:87)

Barton pursued the idea of compiling articles and reviews of these new up and coming bands on a new coloured magazine called KERRANG! but the idea was rejected at first by the Sound publishers who did not want to risk expending money on a magazine entirely devoted to heavy metal (Wall, 2004:89). They agreed to include and one-off shot with all the articles and reviews as a gift inside the usual Sounds issue. Another issue came afterwards which sold out within days and it became evident KERRANG! needed to be monthly magazine in its own right. (Wall, 2004:89).

At the Record Mirror magazine, Malcolm Dome wrote articles about Iron Maiden which he considered top of the NWOBHM pile (Wall, 2004:92).

By Juan David Lopez, Legal Consultant

[notice_box]For a trusted Artist Management Contract template please visit The Music Law Contracts website.[/notice_box]

Images source: Adels