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This research note aims to show why authors and composers searching for their revenue are "lost in a maze," and how they might navigate their way out.


  • In the analog environment, collective administration of authors' rights was relatively straightforward: Public performance and broadcasting of non-dramatico-musical works required performing rights, soundcarrier sales used phonomechanical rights. These two distinct forms of exploitation, while coexisting, were rarely conflated or confused.
  • In the digital environment – with streaming reaching critical mass – there is a need to revisit such distinctions, since both performing and mechanical reproduction rights are required to license the streaming that characterizes the paradigm shift from ownership to access.

Features and Benefits

  • Explains how rights are licensed and how the revenue generated is distorted, diverted, delayed, and diluted on its journey to those who earn it.
  • Discusses a seminal microeconomic issue: whether and how a songwriter can determine how much was earned from a streaming service.

Key questions answered

  • Why is the tracking of authors' royalties such a complex process?
  • What could be done to simplify the process?

Table of contents

Ovum view

  • Summary
  • Lost in a maze: the challenge of tracking royalties
  • The causes of doing the splits
  • The consequences of doing the splits
  • Transaction costs and asymmetric information
  • Is the split infinitive?
  • Table of distribution splits (European CMOs)


  • Authors

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