UK or Overseas?
We only collect and distribute income for UK recordings. We do, however, collect and distribute income to non-UK resident musicians involved in UK recordings, for example those born in the UK who have subsequently emigrated, or those both born and living abroad.
If a session musician is involved in a UK recording which has been used in one of the ways described in Uses of music we distribute royalties for, the MU will be able to distribute income to them. For the majority of uses the MU will distribute to all session musicians who contributed to the recording regardless of MU membership. The notable exception being Subsequent Payments for video and backing track under the BPI/MU Agreement, which only applies to musicians who are MU members at the time of the applicable recording session.
The MU collects for non-members as well as members to enable collective licensing. If we do not clear the rights of all session musicians, a production company looking for clearance would have to approach all non-MU members separately to clear their rights. This would complicate and delay the clearance process, possibly resulting in the music not being used at all.
Featured Artist or Session Musician
In most cases we do not collect and distribute income for the ‘main’ or ‘featured’ artist on a recording, because their rights are usually covered by the recording contract with their label. For example, when a commercial audio recording is synchronised into an advert, the advertising company must seek clearance from both the record label on behalf of the main artist, and also the MU on behalf of any session musicians. They must also seek clearance from the publisher on behalf of the composer(s)/writer(s).
If a musician is deceased, the MU will continue to collect their share of any income due, and will distribute it to their estate upon provision of appropriate probate documentation.