At Jazz Connector on 5th November 2020, members of Ireland’s jazz and improvised music scene gathered together for a professional development opportunity and discussion on:
Understanding IMRO (The Irish Music Rights Organisation) - What it is, how to become a member and what it can do to help artists progress and sustain their musical careers.
Our Guest Speaker was David Wilkinson, who is the Member Relations Manager at IMRO.
Guest Speakers are expressing their own personal opinions, and not speaking on behalf of their organisations or employers.
Some of the points of connection which emerged over the course of this Jazz Connector discussion were:
David presented a brief overview presentation of IMRO’s work, which can be downloaded at the link above. Dave can be emailed with queries regarding IMRO.
- IMRO’s main work is around collecting royalties for performers, songwriters, composers, arrangers and publishers.
- They run events including educational events and seminars when safe to do so.
- Membership of IMRO is free. To meet criteria for membership, you need to provide proof of a released song, e.g. commercial link, proof of radio broadcast or CD release from within the last 2 years. Send in this plus proof of ID. Memberships are usually set up within 2 days.
- Each member receives a unique CAE number which link to your repertoire, which you can add via the members portal. There’s also an app which is useful for submitting performances while on the road.
- Songs used in ads, films, tv, played on radio etc. accrue royalties, but also live performances of your own music in licensed venues.
- Members are encouraged to submit setlists of performances, as are venues. For tours/small venues setlist can be representative, but should be exact for large shows. You can save setlists in the members area to reuse.
- Levels of royalties are dependent on a number of factors, e.g. audience size and are entirely separate from a performers’ fee. E.g., you could potentially make more in royalties than fee from a big festival with a small fee.
- For broadcast royalties, broadcasters have blanket broadcast licenses, which are charged based on their advertising revenue. They send IMRO lists of what they play, and these are compared against IMRO’s registered works. Members don’t need to identify most broadcasts, but can be useful to identify if a work got a large amount of play for a particular reason, or if works are used in ads etc, especially outside of Ireland.
- For some stations with very low advertising, royalties are not worth sending to musicians as they will be so low that the banking charges will exceed them.
- IMRO works with affiliate societies world-wide, so members for the world will receive royalties for performances abroad. It’s also possible to split membership if you prefer to have a direct relationship with an organisation in a particular country. Members are entitled to withdraw rights from some territories if they want to, but difficult to withdraw rights from particular platforms.
- IMRO doesn’t copyright music, it collects royalties on copyrighted music.
- Once music is created/recorded, the copyright exists. Some people create proof of copyright in different ways i.e., sending a copy in a dated email, a registered letter etc.
- Different recordings will have different ISRC code (recording code). ISWC is the work code.
- If a composer is deceased at least 70 years, then the song is out of copyright, and arrangements can be registered with IMRO in the same way as original works.
- This is highly relevant for jazz musicians, as arrangements of standards can be registered, assuming the original composer is deceased more than 70 years.
- In Ireland, arrangements of out-of-copyright works are treated the same as original works, but in other countries, this varies.
- Royalties for live performances can be claimed 3 years back.
- Ensure you get unique identifiers for any work done for ads, tv etc. as it will make it possible to track the work.
- The sooner works are registered and the sooner performances are registered, the ore likely it is you’ll receive the royalties.
Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS)
- MCPS covers mechanical reproduction of works, and includes licensing around streaming, tv, advertising, video-games, podcasts etc. If publishers are involved, the publisher collects the royalties and has an agreement with the composer.
- This is a separate membership from IMRO and involves a one-off fee. They can be contacted here with queries
- A cue sheet for a script or advert will work in the same way as a setlist for a live gig, and members should try and get this from the production company to register with IMRO.
- Splits of royalties are entirely up to the creators/publishers. Performance royalties will be collected by IMRO, mechanical by MCPS. Agreements should be made on percentages as early as possible, and signed off on. It’s difficult to amend later.
- If someone releases a version of your song, you would still receive the IMRO royalty.
Final NOTE: IMRO can only distribute royalties for registered works. Members who join but don’t register works and performances won’t see the benefit.
Contact IMRO with any further queries.