Tuesday, July 2, 2019


In this video, I explain what a "Master Recording" means and what it means to "own your masters". A master recording refers to the actual original recording of a song or album. There are multiple ways to earn money from a song or album in the music industry and royalties derived from master recordings are a huge one. So, if you're streaming Taylor Swift's "Fearless" from Apple Music or buying it on vinyl at your local record store or hearing it in a movie or TV show, you can do that because Big Machine Music (her label) granted a license using their "master" rights. Just because you wrote a song, doesn't mean that you own the master recordings. You may own 100% of the copyright of the actual composition, but if you do not have the original session files from that recording, then you do not have possession of your masters. When labels control the master rights to an album, they agree to give a certain percentage of the royalties from sales to the artist. We don't know what that royalty percentage or Taylor Swift's advances were on Big Machine Records, as her deal with Borchetta is private. The record label keeps the fee for that master recording use every time a Taylor Swift song is performed on TV, played in a movie, streamed on Spotify, etc. Swift would only begin being paid her share on the master side after she earned back her advance money. Credit to Courtney E. Smith for coverage of Taylor Swift's "master recording" feud against Scooter Braun.