A breakdown of income you could earn by producing one hit (or at least, viral) record.
1. Production fee for your creative input in producing the track.
2. Recording Engineer fee for performing recording engineer duties in the studio.
3. Mixing Engineer fee for mixing the track.
4. Mastering Engineer fee for mastering the track.
(1-4 could be embodied all in one fee, or you could line item it in your contract and/or invoice.)
5. Income share in the master sales, downloads, streams, often referred to as “points on the record.”
6. If you add background vocals and/or live instrumentation to the production, while you may not earn a session musician fee, you are still entitled to receive all or a portion of the non-featured performer share of statutory master royalties for US non-interactive streams, or so-called “digital radio royalties.” To get this, make sure that you are credited not only as a Producer but also as a background vocalist or musician for whatever instrument you played. These royalties in the US are paid out by the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. These funds do not reduce the featured artist’s neighboring rights (US = digital radio) income. It is completely separate from the featured performer share of income and non-negotiable by that featured performer. If you don’t claim it, you still earn it but you leave it on the table!
7. Thanks to the passing of the Music Modernization Act, which became law on October 11th, 2018, and the inclusion of the Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP Act), studio professionals such as producers and engineers have a legal and permanent right to directly collect non-interactive, digital royalties agreed through a letter of direction with the featured artist from SoundExchange. Join the Creative Affiliates Program at SoundExchange and submit your letters of direction.
8. A producer’s share of international neighboring rights royalties in several territories where recordings that you produce are performed on broadcast radio and TV.
9. If you composed the melody or co-authored the lyrics, you should be considered a Writer on the musical work and be entitled to receive writer-share of publishing income (performance royalties, mechanical royalties, synchronization royalties).
10. If you composed the melody or co-authored the lyrics, as a Writer on the musical work, you are entitled to receive or assign the publisher-share of publishing income (performance royalties, mechanical royalties, synchronization royalties).
In conclusion, if you’re a music producer, make sure that you understand all of the income streams associated with the work that you put in on a recording AND your legal entitlements under copyright law and music publishing industry customs. Also, join the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs Producers & Engineers Wing.
Want to learn more? Download my FREE ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label And Publisher.”
Preface: Every day I receive emails, phone calls, text messages and social media pings from indie artists, bands, music producers and artist managers seeking advice on their music career or insight into the music industry in general. In addition, after speaking on panels, teaching workshops or guest lecturing at music production schools I participate in Q&A sessions that yield all kinds of questions. Often, the advice sought is due to some very specific recent incident in their music career pursuits. I’ve created this series to offer a glimpse into the indie music community–the good, the bad and the ugly. These are their stories; the #IndieMusicStories. [All names are fictional. I’ve changed the names of the real person to protect his/her identity.]