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How to own your Masters and own your Publishing in the music business.

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

How to own your Masters and own your Publishing in the music business. In this episode I breakdown how to own your masters as well as how to own your publishing by starting with the basics, the copyright. You cannot own any Masters or music publishing without ownership of the actual copyright that is associated with the two. Check it out!


If you want to know how to own your own master and publishing rights and the intellectual property of it you must always start with the copyright.

What I have listed below is more of a list of bullet points that will help you recognize what is necessary to own your masters when it comes to copyright.

Now, while owning your masters as an artist seems like a glorious achievement it is better to be left in fantasyland, as owning 100% of your masters will never continue as you proceed in growing your recording business.


Initial Ownership

The source of copyright ownership is the author of the work, and that, in the case of a “joint work,” the co-authors of the work are likewise co-owners of the copyright. A work is joint if the authors collaborated with each other or if each of the authors prepared his or her contribution with the knowledge and intention that it would be merged with the contributions of other authors as inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.

Works Made For Hire

In the case of works made for hire the employer is considered the author of the work and is regarded as the initial owner of copyright unless there has been an agreement otherwise. Any agreement under which the employees to own rights should be in writing and signed by the parties.


As a general rule, the author is the party who actually creates the work, that is, the person who translates an idea into a fixed, tangible expression entitled to copyright protection.

If the work is for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author and owns the copyright, unless there is a written agreement to the contrary. When classifying a work made for hire the term is not only the initial ownership of its copyright, but also the copyrights duration, and the owners' renewal rates, termination rights, and right to import certain goods bearing the copyright.

Joint work

In a joint work, The joint authors hold an undivided interest in a work, despite any differences in each author’s contribution.

Each author as co-owner has the right to use or to license the use of the work, subject to an accounting to the other co-owners for any profits.

Thus, even a person who’s contribution is relatively minor, if a corded joint authorship status exists, still enjoys a significant benefit.

Transfers of Ownership

Transfers of Ownership

The ownership of a copyright, or of any part of it, may be transferred by any means of conveyance or by operation of law and is to be treated as personal property upon the death of the owner.

A transfer of copyright ownership is valid only if an instrument of conveyance exists, or alternatively a note or memorandum of the transfer, which is in writing and signed by the copyright owner or such owners duly authorized agent.



For the sake of keeping it simple, I will only talk about the copyright terms of 1978 going forward.

The current term of a copyrighted work is the Life of the author plus 70 years.

More than one author? No problem! The term will last to the life of the last remaining author’s life plus 70 years

Purchased your work as a work made for hire? No problem! The Government gives you 95 years from the date of first publication or 120 years from the date of creation.


Termination means that ownership of the rights covered by the terminated grant reverts to everyone who owns termination interests on the date the notice of termination was served, whether they joined in signing the notice or not.

Thanks for reading

Books & Free Guides

The Musicians Self Publishing Guide #1 -

Download Free Music Profit Maximizer Checklist -

1:14 Ownership

2:16 Joint Work

2:37 Work for Hire

4:29 Authorship

6:08 Points (artist & Producer Points)

9:05 Transfer a Work

9:58 Beat Licenses (Bonus Tip!!)

12:10 Term

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