Get Paid: Alternative Royalties For Indie Artists

Find Out About Neighboring Rights

If you are a music performer/artist or a label owner who owns the master to commercial releases, there is another royalty stream, called Neighboring Rights, that cannot be overlooked.November_GetPaid_wpArt3

All of the details and payment parameters for Neighboring Rights have been outlined in the 1961 Roman Convention Treaty ( The Convention secures protection in performances of performers, phonograms of producers of phonograms and broadcasts of broadcasting organizations. Typically, in regards to Neighboring Rights, the song is split into two halves: 50 percent goes to the Masters and 50 percent goes to the Performer. Money is collected from radio, TV, theaters, clubs, restaurants, various streaming sources such as web radio, satellite radio and other digital transmissions. Plus, collections are made from private copying levies on blank recording media.

Not all countries, however, have neighboring rights representation or participate in generating royalties. Participating countries to the treaty, well over 30 in all, include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Congo, France, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. (See the above link for a complete list.)

Since the US is not included on this list, it can be a bit tricky for American artists. For an American artist to be eligible, the music must have been recorded in one of the participating countries. Lucky for me, some of my releases on Instinct Records are eligible because I recorded them in England, a country that is part of the neighboring rights pact.

So if you recorded or mastered your CD in one of the participating countries, you qualify as well. Complicated yes, but it is the reality. I looked into various companies out there to collect these royalties for me, but unfortunately, for obvious reasons, America does not have many.


After doing copious research, I joined the Dutch society, simply known as Sena (, to collect for me worldwide. Sena grants licenses on behalf of the right holders to companies or organizations that use music, and they collect the associated fees. Sena also monitors and registers where, how and with what purpose music is played, to get the appropriate license.

Does this sound familiar? Well, it should, because they are a lot like the PROs except they handle the rights of the master holders and the performers. I wish America had a domestic society like this. The closest we have is SoundExchange.

Who is represented by Sena?

Sena grants licenses on behalf of the rightholders to companies that use music, and they collect the associated fees. Sena, additionally, monitors and registers where, how and with what purpose music is played. Then they distribute the royalties correctly to their producers and artists. As a neighboring rights society, Sena represents Phil Collins, Coldplay, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Mumford & Sons, Black Eyed Peas and Christina Aguilera. Like our American PROs, Sena has the laborious task of inspecting playlists from radio and television stations.

Sena abides by The Dutch Neighbouring Rights Act of 1993, which gives performing artists, film/record companies and broadcasting organizations the right to decide whether a performance may be recorded, reproduced or broadcast, shown or played. They have what is called a “right to payment,” which allows commercially released music to be broadcast, with the stipulation of a reasonable fee being paid.

I'm so pleased to know they enforce that “failure to comply with the Neighbouring Rights Act is a punishable offence.” Hell, if they enforced that in the US, two-thirds of the country would be punished.

Last Word

As an indie artist, it is important to be involved with all of these companies, so you can enjoy all of your future royalties. As we know, royalties do not always get paid to the appropriate person, but that does not mean you should just sit and let it happen. You have to actively search them out and get the right companies to represent your music.

I actually found out about royalties Sena was holding for me when I was contacted by a Dutch sub-publisher via email. He wanted to collect them on my behalf (how sweet), but for an outrageous fee of 50 percent! Absolutely ridiculous! So I contacted Sena directly, joined and got paid royalties owed.

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give anyone about any royalty source is to be sharp and on your game. Soak up as much knowledge about it as you can.

Questions are your friend.


BRIAN TARQUIN is the winner of multiple Emmy Awards, having established himself as a top-rated TV composer/guitarist. In 2006 SESAC honored him with the Network Television Performance Award. In addition, Tarquin has produced and composed the Guitar Masters series, trading licks with such guitar greats as, Leslie West, Steve Morse, Billy Sheehan, Frank Gambale, Andy Timmons, Chris Poland (Megadeth) and Hal Lindes (Dire Straits). For further information, visit

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