The goal of songwriters and artists has always been to get their music in front of as many people and in as many ears as possible. Sadly, many artists have given little thought to the intellectual property implications of this goal. The fact remains that the creator of a song should do all that they can to keep ownership of it.
The recent news concerning the steps that Reservoir Media’s push to buy song rights should concern artists. While it may seem like a good idea to obtain the quick influx of cash that this purchase can involve, you need to be aware of the implications that this will have over your ownership of a song and the ability to perform it in the future.
In a quarterly report released in August 2022, Reservoir Media reported $24.3 million in revenue. This was a 46 percent increase over the previous quarter. Flush with cash, the CEO of Reservoir, Jim Heindlmeyer, stated the company’s intent to continue purchasing additional copyright and master ownership of media.
As of the publication of this report, it is estimated that Reservoir owns over 140,000 copyrights and 36,000 master recordings. This has allowed them to become a massive presence in the recording and distribution industry. With the company’s stated intent to continue acquisitions, Reservoir looks to remain a major player in the coming years.
Reservoir’s recent quarterly report may initially appear to be good news for artists. With the common belief that the recording industry is in a downturn, news that a company is investing in the purchase of original music may seem like a powerful opportunity.
However, artists looking to take advantage of this arrangement need to be cautious.
When we say that Reservoir is purchasing copyrights and masters, this means that they are taking full control over intellectual property. When an artist creates a new song, they have intellectual property rights over that media. This includes the sole ability to publish it, perform it, and license out the ability to do so to others.
When Reservoir purchases a copyright or master recording, they are buying these rights. This means that the author no longer has the say as to where their music is performed, nor do they have the right to license it out to others. In short, a quick payment of cash is a sacrifice of the ability to pursue future profit.
Talking with a music law attorney now could help provide more insight into copyright issues in the music industry. Our intellectual property lawyers could help register a work for copyright possession, protect assets from instances of infringement, and even negotiate licensing or sale agreements that help artists retain control over their work. Contact Lomnitzer Law for further guidance.