#NowYouKnow: Understanding Music Rights.

Welcome again to our new episode of #NowYouKnow, and as Opus Music Africa we hope to move with you on the path to uncover the terms, processes and DIY knowledge so that you become self sustaining in your music career. We shall also be available for any inquiries about music, music rights, music tech, music business and more.

In the previous episode which you will find here, we looked at how you register your music for copyright. However for all the registration process to move on smoothly, and the fact that you have to put into consideration all the other contributors that created or own part of the song, it is wise to also understand what side of ownership you fall. With this you need to understand the two (2) types of rights that subsist in the song you intend to register.

These include: Right of the Composition and Right of the Recording.


This, as its name indicates, covers the underlying composition — i.e.
the song itself, NOT any particular recording of it. The composition of the song usually includes the Lyrics (Text) and the Beat (Instrumentation) or either one of them.

In a local context, the lyricist is sometimes called the Songwriter, WHILE, the Beat maker is referred to as Audio producer. There are known Ugandan songwriters like Yese Oman Rafiki, Nince Henry, Sylver Kyagulanyi, Song Boss, Blackskin …. etc or it could be yourself who writes down your own lyrics to the song. There are also known Ugandan audio producers like Bomba, Nessim, Andre, Eli Arkhis, Washington, Big Daviee, Case Beats, Ayo Bassboi ….. et.c that come up with new beats or instrumentations to your songs.

Case study: Chips na Ketchup by Vinka

In the case of “Ketchup,” a popular song by “Vinka” belongs to both Yese Oman Rafiki, who wrote the song and Nessim, who made the underlying instrumentation as a composition right.

In many cases with famous/popular artists, the copyright owner is
likely to be the songwriter’s or audio producer’s publishing firm like
Opus Music Publishing Africa. In common industry language, this is
frequently referred to as the rights to the publishing (Publishing Rights).


Also called the sound recording right, covers the actual recording of the music on the release (e.g. Vinka’s famous recorded version of “Chips na Ketchup”). This type of right comes in when you decide to officially record, mix and master the composition to make it fit for consumption.

It could be that the Publishing/Composition rights owner licensed the song to a performer/recording artist to derive a sound recording or it could be yourself that wrote the song but now wants to make it a recording as an artiste. In this case, a sound recording rights owner is the one that financed the sound recording process (arrangement, recording, mixing and mastering).

This right is usually owned by the record label (like Swangz Avenue), or if you’re an independent artist that funded the recording process, you own it yourself.

In simple terms, there are many ways you can be credited as a song owner, however much it depends on what process or contribution you made towards coming up with such a song. It is also important to consider using a split sheet that will help to identify your ownership (which we shall look at in one of the next #NowYouKnow episodes).

Leave a comment