This income is exactly what you think it is. Its derived from printed copies of song, from the sheet music. Sheet music consists usually of the melody notes and the lyrics which may accompany those notes. They are often called lead sheets. The copyright owner or administrator frequently licenses the right to print such sheet music to print publishers, in exchange for royalties and sometimes an advance against those royalties. Old contracts required the payment of a royalty based on pennies per copy, today they are based on a percentage of the sale price, typically between 10-12.5%. This is considered to represent less than five percent of the total income from a song.
Back in the early 1900's, the US Supreme Court held that a piano roll (a long sheet of paper, with holes in it, which caused certain notes to be played on a player piano) is a copy of the song. It wasn't really sheet music (see above) so Congress created a mechanical right. The owner of a copyright of a song has the right to create copies of the song, which may be heard with the aid of a mechanical device. In the early 1900's it was a piano roll. Then it was a vinyl disc. Then it rotated at 33 rpm or if it was a single at 45 rpm. Then reel to reel tape, then 8-track, cassette, CD and download or digital copy. Each one of those formats requires a mechanical device to perceive the music.The person who copies the song must pay a royalty to the owner of the song. Today, that rate in the US is $0.091 per copy, or for a ringtone, $0.24 per copy. Outside the US, the rate is generally 9% of the wholesale price of the soundcarrier (CD, download, etc.)
The owner of the copyright in a musical composition owns the exclusive right to perform or authorize others to perform the music publicly. Again in the early 1900's, Irving Berlin and others organized a non-profit society, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) to collectively license to public places the right to perform the members music. This made licensing much simpler. Today, in the US this performance income is licensed by three such societies, ASCAP, BMI, which was created by broadcasters as an answer to ASCAP, and SESAC, which is a for profit society. The three societies collect about $2 billion in annual revenue, and after administration costs, distribute 50% of their net revenue to the writers of these songs, and 50% to the publishers of these songs.
This is income derived from the license by the publisher to a producer of audio visual content (a TV show, commercial, film, etc.) to use the music in a synchronized fashion, or in timed relation to the visual image appearing on the screen. These licenses consist of background uses, where the music is used in the background of a scene, a visual-vocal, where a character actually sings the songs, or over titles, such as the end titles of a movie. There is no society to collect these fees, no statutory rate. Each license is negotiated one a time, for rates which depend on the needs of a willing buyer (licensee) and a willing seller (licensor). Typically these uses also generate performance income, when the commercial, TV show, or film is shown on television, and publicly performed.
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