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Performing rights

2 min read

What are performing rights?

Performing rights mean the right to perform musical works and sound recordings in public.

What are performing rights?

In the music industry, performing rights are the right to perform a or . This applies, for example, when a musical work is performed live, such as in a concert, and in most countries, when a sound recording of a musical work is streamed, broadcast on radio or TV, or played in bars and restaurants.

Performing rights may involve the right of , the right of , the and the , which are protected by .

Explore our pages on Rights in Musical Works and Rights in Performances and Sound Recordings for more.

Who has the performing rights?

Performing rights in musical works are owned and between the , who may also share their performing rights split with their .

Performing rights in musical works are typically managed by sometimes called Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) or Music Licensing Companies (MLCs).

Performing rights in performances are owned and split between the , who may also share their performing rights split with their .

Performing rights in sound recordings are owned by the of the sound recording, which can be either a record label or a .

In some countries, the performing rights of performers and sound recording rights holders are more limited, for example, in the USA.

Performing rights in performances and sound recordings are managed by record labels and CMOs called Related Rights Organizations.

Visit our pages on Record Labels and CMOs to learn more.

What are set lists and playlists?

In the music industry, set lists and playlists are important in helping manage songwriters, performers, and sound recording owners’ performing rights and royalties.

Set lists and playlists can mean both:

  • Lists of musical works performed during concerts and other live performances that must send to the local as part of their obligation to remunerate the songwriters and other rights holders of those musical works,


  • Lists of sound recordings played by broadcasters or are then reported to record labels, music publishers, , and CMOs to remunerate rights holders of both the musical works and sound recordings.

Image credit: Bokeh Street