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Rudransh

Music ownership

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It really depends on who the songwriter is.  if it is original and destined for ANY  distribution, you really need to establish at least one publishing entity to capture publishing royalties (thanks to the extremely antiquated licensing model still embraced by the powers that be in the recording industry). Publishing royalties are typically almost the same amount as songwriter royalties.  Just about anyone who does publishing will have two or three entities - one for ASCAP, one for BMI, and one for SESAC - because you cannot have the same entity name with more than one clearing house. Many (all serious, professional, I-do-this-for-a-living) songwriters will have a publishing entity, or two, or three...or they work for a "house" that has that all set up already.

If someone else wrote it and/or published it, you can still use it for commercial use, you just need to make sure royalties are paid. There are statutory rates available from any one of the clearing houses listed above but you can almost always negotiate a lower rate (based on usage/distribution). 

You cannot copyright a previously published song or ANY performance, and copyright is completely independent of what production method was used to produce THAT version.  That is where ISRC codes come into play.  Don't worry about ISRC unless you are creating a commercial CD intended for airplay.  ISRC is a numeric string embedded in a .cda file (CD version of a .wav) that identifies the exact performance or iteration of a given song, and ties it back to the label.  It is used by the players in all radio stations to report "Spins" and that information gets sent to a company named Soundscan, who compiles the information and makes sure royalties are paid by the radio station to the song writers and publishers.  If you are not the songwriter or the publisher, you can still get mechanical royalties as a performer, which are almost nothing. I have gotten quite a few checks that were for less money than the stamp on the envelope needed to mail the check. 

 If you get with a major label, one of the contract stipulations will be that the label will get the publishing rights for all songs created during the term of the contract - this can be negotiated down to "for xx years" after which the publishing can revert.   

And, to answer the original question - you ABSOLUTELY  can use Cakewalk to produce commercial music, and they don't get a split on the royalties.

Edited by StudioNSFW
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Hi Rudransh,

The material you create with Cakewalk is yours and you can do with it what you wish.  I suggest you copyright your works if you plan to release it to the public.

Kind regards,

tecknot

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This is a bigger question than some might think. Cakewalk itself can be thought of like a musical instrument. Like a Yamaha piano, the music you perform on the instrument does not belong to Yamaha, and can be used more or less any way that music is used as far as Yamaha is concerned. But Cakewalk itself can use a variety of sources: samples, MIDI files, loops, recordings etc. Since these can be obtained from numerous sources, and since the author/publisher of each resource may own the copyright you would have to review the license under which you are authorized to use anything but the most trivial resources that you might incorporate into your project to see if you are permitted to use that resource commercially.  Most of the resources you pay for will specifically grant you a license for commercial use--that is after all why their customers buy them--but not necessarily all of them. Things you sample yourself from commercial recordings will almost always be a problem. Some resources are offered as part of a demonstration or educational offering and will specifically say that you cannot use them yourself for any other than the intended use. As I recall there were resources in the demo files of some of the old SONAR distributions that were licensed that way. It can be hella tedious to sort all of this out, requiring you to keep accurate records of the stuff you use in a commercial project including the licensing terms. 

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On 4/22/2020 at 9:16 AM, StudioNSFW said:

If someone else wrote it and/or published it, you can still use it for commercial use, you just need to make sure royalties are paid. There are statutory rates available from any one of the clearing houses

Statutory rates apply to compulsory licensing of compositions but not to the phonorecord (master) itself. So if you are recording a cover of a musical composition (words and music) that has already been published as an audio recording you can compel the author of the song to license your use of it in your own original rendition. Unpublished work, and work not yet released as a recording (music in notation or synchronized with a video for example) do not qualify. By definition, sampling a piece of a previously recorded performance is a copying of [a portion of] an audio recording, and is not eligible for compulsory licensing. The owner of the original recording is free to refuse you permission or to charge an exorbitant fee--although some publishers have a mechanism to issue sample licenses through intermediary agencies. In addition the compulsory license only allows you to make and release an audio recording. It will not permit you to use the composition for a performance of a video soundtrack or background music (YouTube) which would require a separate synchronization license that needs to be obtained from the copyright holder at his discretion. A compulsory license also cannot be used to obtain your own copyright in your own arrangement of the composition as a derivative work, and it obviously gives you no right to license the original composition to anyone else. A MIDI file might qualify as an audio recording, since it is a fixed work that can be rendered to audio using the proper equipment, and it might be possible to obtain a compulsory license to create that file and distribute it by paying the statutory royalties, but the creator/performer of the MIDI file has no right to grant you a license to use the composition he licensed from the author in the production of your own work. So your arrangement/instrumentation/rendition of a  MIDI file of a cover would need a license from the original author. 

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All excellent points!  And THIS is why "Music Row" has as many law offices and accountant offices as studios...

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