A Practical Guide to Music Licensing for Caribbean Musicians

By sounds and colors
| September 12, 2022

Caribbean music brings us the beauty of many different vibrations and sounds. We know that inspirational music brings good times and soulful sounds from Africa to South America, to Indigenous peoples and many more cultures. But for the creators behind that music, finding out about their music licensing journey isn’t always easy.

That’s why we bring you this handy guide to music licensing for Caribbean musicians. This way, young and up-and-coming artists can find themselves paid with favorites such as Brisa Flow, DJ Tahira,

How does the music license work?

When someone wants to use your music publicly, they need to get licensing agreements and rights to the music from the musician in question. Rights are not a one-time thing. If a festival wants to play “El Bueno y El Malo” by Hermanos Guttiérez, it needs permission every time.

This is because the owner of the music has exclusive rights to it, unless they sell it to another production company or label. So that means you can control when and where the music is played and even if the music is suitable.

Who makes the license?

When your music starts popping and others want to play it at reggae festivals. They will come from a PRO or a CMO. Performing rights organizations and collective management organizations will cover the event.

General offers cover some of the most important things in terms of income for a talented artist. Being able to distribute your music on platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music is an important way to get discovered and paid.

This is why when you produce and create your music, it must be recorded. There isn’t much difference between this and podcast music licenses.

To register

It’s natural for new artists to want to focus on creating the music they love the most. And maybe if you’re not central to the music industry, you might not know what performing rights companies are. Joining a PRS is arguably one of the most important parts of getting your music properly licensed or making sure you don’t get a bad deal when licensing your music.

Performance rights companies are the groups that can make your music generate money when played in any live or online setting. This is accompanied by a digital dispenser that actually puts the cash in your pocket. There are many different companies to choose from depending on where you live and produce your music.

In the US some of the more popular routes are to follow with ASCAP or BMI in the US, but if you block in Europe then you will be looking at SACEM and GIMA. But Caribbean artists have to consider different groups. These are AMRA, ACCS, COTT and CD Baby.

  • AMRA – Is known as a global collection of digital music that not only offers some of the best quality but also the most transparency for musicians and producers. This is important when trying to figure out the logistics of getting paid. That’s why they monitor platforms and live radio.

Tip: When it comes to getting paid by a company like AMRA, you want to be recognized as both the songwriter and publisher of the song. When you compose the music, you receive the entire revenue from the authoring part. But when you’re also the publisher, you also get that whole revenue stream.

Challenges you may face

Music licensing is no picnic and can feel overwhelming. You’ll want to make sure you own the copyright to your music, so you don’t face theft. There are two areas to consider.

  1. Master Use refers to the actual recording of music. This is more commonly used for radio stations or broadcasts to play music recording.
  1. Sync license fees refer to publisher and songwriter. This is common when we see music playing over visuals such as sports.

The licensing industry faces the most difficult aspect of being able to identify the owner who has rights to a piece.

With the adaptation of the Internet and the amount of content available, it can be difficult to identify the work. This is why, as Caribbean artists, it is imperative that your work be copyrighted and registered immediately within a network or company.

Get in touch

It never hurts to get in touch with a representative from a performing rights company to give you some insight into the terrain.

While they may give you advice similar to this guide, they may be able to relate it to your specific career. It will resonate much more closely with the house.

As a Caribbean artist, the soulful sounds sometimes come from so much more than the voice, as so many instruments and productions are used to create such beautiful music.

That’s why it’s essential to understand the difference between primary use license fees and sync license fees, especially if you’re both a producer and a composer.

The more you work, the more credits and income you get. And when you work with the right digital distributor, they can help put the money straight into your pocket after securing the right deals with YouTube, Spotify, and other streaming platforms.

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