- The composition itself – a song’s music and lyrics, apart from any particular recording of that composition. This copyright is owned by the songwriter and/or publisher.
- The sound recording – a particular recorded version of a musical composition. This copyright is owned by the recording artist and/or label.
In the UK PRS For Music is the home of the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS). These societies collect royalties for its members’ works when performed to the public (concerts, radio, television etc) and when its members’ work is duplicated (streaming platforms, CDs, vinyl etc) respectively.
In the music industry, songwriters earn royalties when their compositions are downloaded, streamed, and used around the world. And it’s the job of a Publishing Administrator to register the songwriters’ compositions around the world, monitor when and where the compositions are used, license compositions for use, collect the royalties generated, and then distribute them to the songwriters.
The term “music publishing” originally referred to publishers of sheet music, as sheet music used to be the primary commercial use of musical compositions. Today, music publishing has split off from the sheet music business, and the large music publishers tend not to produce sheet music.