What are they?
Neighboring rights, sometimes called “related rights,” is a term in copyright law used to describe the rights of performers and master recording owners (record labels). The concept of neighboring rights is similar to that of performance rights in the field of music publishing because both kinds of royalties are earned through public performances or broadcasts of music. But while performance rights refer to the right to publicly perform the musical composition, neighboring rights refer to the right to publicly perform the sound recording. They are called neighboring rights because they are “related to” performance rights in the field of music publishing, or the right to publicly perform a musical composition.
Who collects them?
Neighboring rights royalties are collected by neighboring rights collection societies. In order to collect the neighboring rights royalties you are owed, registering your individual master recordings directly with each collection society in the territories in which you are getting radio play is absolutely essential.
How do I know if I’m earning them?
If you’re a sound recording owner (record label or performing artist) and your master recordings are publicly performed or broadcast on the following media, you – and the artists performing on those recordings – are earning neighboring rights royalties!
You’re earning neighboring rights royalties if your music is being played on:
- Pandora (or any internet radio platform)
- BBC Radio, Sirius XM (or any satellite radio platform)
- Cable TV music channels
- Terrestrial radio outside of the USA
- Businesses and retailers as background music (i.e. restaurants, retailers, hotels, etc.)
- Live in clubs or performance venues
- Various new online media as digital music technology changes and develops
It is important to realize that just because your recordings are selling well in any given territory does not mean you are earning neighboring rights royalties. Neighboring rights royalties are earned when your master recordings are publicly performed and broadcast, not sold. With that said, if there is a large rise in sales in any particular territory, this might be an indicator that radio play has occurred. So any neighboring rights administrator should take note of significant increases in sales!
How can I collect them?
If you’re a performing artist and know your recordings are getting radio airplay, talk to your record label that released your music. See if the label is already collecting these royalties for you – or if they themselves need to get on board with this to collect these royalties!