For the first time in history, the New York Rock Exchange has given fans the opportunity to own a piece of a song. What exactly does that mean?
Music Industry 101
An understanding of the music industry (and by music industry I'm specifically talking about the BUSINESS of selling music, as opposed the ART of creating it) begins with an understanding of copyrights. There are two copyrights for each song, and they are the foundation upon which the music industry is built:
- The composition or publishing copyright protects the written music, meaning the lyrics and melody. If you are a songwriter, this is the copyright that protects your work.
- The recording copyright is for an original sound recording (master recording) of a song. If you go into a studio and record a song, this is the copyright that protects that particular recording.
These two copyrights--the composition and master recording--are the basis of the music industry. The people who own these rights OWN the music. Typically that means Record Labels, Publishers, and Artists. But now, thanks to the New York Rock Exchange, YOU can own a piece.
Copies vs. Copyright
If the section above doesn't make sense to you, don't worry about it. There's really no reason for anybody outside the music industry to understand this stuff. In fact, you'd be surprised how many people IN the music industry don't understand it.
The important thing to understand is that from a legal standpoint, music is truly OWNED by music industry. As fans, all we ever own (at least before NYRE came along) is COPIES of music.
For example, if I say I own The Joshua Tree by U2 on vinyl, what I really mean to say is that I own a COPY of The Joshua Tree--one out of however many million copies the record label produced. I don't actually own the music--I simply own the right to listen to it.
There is no limit to the number of copies of that album that can exist. If you add up all the albums, CDs, Cassettes, and MP3s of The Joshua Tree out there, it would be a very large number. And if the record label ever runs out, they just make more. In fact, U2 and iTunes recently demonstrated that they can push a button, and have 500 MM copies of an album spring into existence from nowhere--even for people who don't want them!
That's the big difference between copies and copyrights. There can be infinite copies, but there will only ever be one copyright. And that's what NYRE is all about.
How Does the NYRE work?
When the New York Rock Exchange issues shares, we work with the artist to transfer a little piece of the song's copyright to each shareholder. It's a limited ownership, meaning that you don't own any rights to control or exploit the music like a label or publisher would. But it means that when you buy a share, you own something truly unique. Not just a copy of the song, but a piece of the music itself. You are one of very few people who can legally claim to be a co-owner of the song.
When you hear that song on the radio, you can tell people "I Own That".
And that's what the New York Rock Exchange is all about. Our shares don't provide a financial return (that will be the subject of a different post). Instead, they provide you with something much cooler--The ability to own something special, and be a part of something you love. After all, there's much more to life than dollars and cents--especially when it comes to music.
PS. We're the first company in the world to offer shares of songs like this, and we're as excited as we can be about it. Please check us out at www.newyorkrockexchange.com, and let us know what you think. We love feedback--feel free to leave it in the comments below, or you can always send mail directly to Eric and I at firstname.lastname@example.org.