What are Mechanical Royalties? Published in Mastering

The simple understanding of Mechanical Royalties are royalties that are paid to a songwriter whenever a copy of their song is made. As with many avenues in the music industry, it's always a little more complicated then it can seem. So, we've tried to simply it here.

What are Mechanical Royalties?

Who pays Mechanical Royalties?

How do I best track my Mechanical Royalties?

What are Mechanical Royalties?

Mechanical royalties (which are different from Performance Royalties) Can be an important source of income for a successful song. They're royalties that are owed to the copyright owner of a song when their song is reproduced and distributed to the public.

For Example, if someone else makes a copy of your song and distributes it

  • On CD or Vinyl
  • A Download to be purchased
  • MP3
  • A Ringtone
  • Or Streamed on Demand through Radio and Services, etc.

Every time someone purchases a recording, a mechanical royalty is owed to the copyright owner of the song. Depending on the different deals, a songwriter can split a mechanical royalty with their band, label, or publisher. There is no universal code. These royalties will differ from country to country but there usually is a standard minimum.

Who pays Mechanical Royalties?

Mechanical royalties are paid by whoever attains the mechanical license to reproduce and/or distribute your music.

For example, if a record label is ready to release an album, the label would need to get a mechanical license for the music that pertains to that album and then pay the mechanical royalties. If there are numerous songwriters that contributed to the album, there can be many mechanical licenses attached to that album.

The bottom line is anyone who asks for and gets a mechanical license is responsible for paying the mechanical royalty.

How do I best track my Mechanical Royalties?

If you have a publisher, mechanical royalties are sometimes paid directly to your publisher or they are paid through a mechanical rights agency.

Songwriters can often make the mistake of thinking that being members of BMI, ASCAP or SESAC will take care of their mechanical royalties. These companies only handle performance royalties. You will need to be register with a separate collection agency that handles mechanical royalties.

In the United States "The Harry Fox Agency" is the company that

  • Collects mechanical royalties
  • Distributes mechanical royalties
  • And distributes mechanical licenses

If you are looking to collect mechanical royalties internationally you will need to register in a different group per country.

To learn more about registering for mechanical royalties visit:


And check out their Facts and Questions page.