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Mechanical Royalties

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Definition:

Mechanical royalties are a royalty paid to a songwriter whenever a copy of one of their songs is made. For instance, when a record label presses a CD of your song, you are due a mechanical royalty. That is the basic story, but it gets a little more complicated. The ways of dealing with mechanical royalties differ from country to country, and there can also be many side deals between bands, labels, and publishers as to the rate of royalty and how the royalty will be paid, including:

  • Paying royalties on copies of an album SOLD versus copies of an album PRESSED
  • Promotional copy allowances that let a label press a certain number of copies of an album without paying mechanicals

Generally, like performing rights royalties, mechanical royalties go to the songwriter. However, it is not uncommon for a songwriter to share these royalties with the rest of the band. If you have a publishing deal, your publisher will receive a percentage of your mechanical royalties before paying them out to you.

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