For all the harm and loss the digital revolution has caused the music industry, it has created as much growth and prosperity. The potential for new income streams in the music business is very real with new and ever-emerging technologies popping up all the time.

Ringtones, a blanket term which includes mastertones/trutones and polytones, digital jukeboxes, mobile phone video games, non-interactive and interactive internet streaming, internet downloading for tethered and permanent uses, online advertising, corporate training v-mails, corporate DVDs, webcasting and podcasting are just a few of the myriad new ways the digital age has produced new income streams for music rights holders.

Of course, with new business models come new licensing issues and new laws to govern them. Hopkins Music Group LLC prides itself on being at the forefront of the music rights industry with its thorough understanding of current industry standards regarding these new licensing issues and copyright laws.

For the first time in U.S. copyright law history, the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act (DPRA) of 1995 gave copyright holders an exclusive performance right for certain digital transmissions of their sound recordings. This act enables record labels to receive royalties when its recordings are digitally transmitted. Prior to this point, U.S. copyright law did not recognize an exclusive performance right in sound recordings. In other words, record labels and recording artists do not receive performance royalties for their songs being played on the radio. However, via collection and distribution by the three U.S. performance rights organizations, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, music publishers and songwriters do receive royalties for performance rights in traditional, non-digital mediums.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 provided a set of programming criteria that, if met by entities wishing to engage in digital audio transmissions such as webcasting, would allow for the automatic, statutory right to use sound recordings. If you qualify for a statutory license for digital audio transmissions, a license can be obtained directly from SoundExchange, the independent, non-profit organization appointed by the U.S. Copyright Office to oversee the collection and distribution of digital performance rights statutory license royalties. If you do not meet the criteria for a statutory license, a separate license will have to be negotiated directly with the sound recording copyright owners.

In summary, the DPRA and DMCA ensure that record labels and recording artists are compensated for the digital performance of their works just as music publishers and songwriters have been compensated for the performance of their works since the early part of the 20th century.

For further information on the different types of licenses and rights that are required when using someone else's music in your project, please read the article on our “Music Clearance and Licensing 101” page or give us a call at (310) 488-9297 and let us provide you with a free initial consultation regarding your specific questions/concerns.


P.O. Box 684308, Austin, TX 78768
Phone: (310) 488-9297
Fax: (310) 943-2124