What's A Sound Recording?

A recording comprises actual sounds capable of playback. Performers and producers typically own sound recordings because they author what we physically hear. Engineers can also play a part in this process. The author of a sound recording is not necessarily the author of the underlying musical work (composition).

For example, say Childish Gambino records the vocals to a song. This action makes him, at least, a co-owner of the sound recording, but not of the composition. However, if he wrote the lyrics and melody, he also deserves writing credit. To learn more about compositions vs. sound recordings, visit our blog—click here.

What Are ISRCs? Where Do I Get One? Do I Need One??

"ISRC" stands for International Standard Recording Code. ISRCs create a global system that helps identify sound recordings.

If you have digital distribution, you already have an ISRC. However, if you are struggling to find your ISRCs, you can likely obtain them by contacting your distributor. Stem can assign ISRCs to any track distributed through our system.

SoundScan tracks ISRCs for potential Billboard charting. Additionally, the RIAA monitors ISRCs when calculating album equivalents.


If I'm a Member of a Performing Rights Organization (PRO), Can I Still Use Stem?

Absolutely. Stem works with a different set of royalties than your performing rights organization does, so you are able to use Stem in conjunction with your PRO.

What Are the Per-Stream Royalty Rates for Music Streaming Services?

Per-stream royalty rates typically vary from platform to platform and even within the same service. For instance, rates can shift depending on the ads served against your content. Additionally, the number of streams a user accumulates can effect the rate. The same goes for the subscriber pool a platform has in a given month.

Do I Still Control the Ownership Rights to My Music?

Absolutely. Stem does not control any ownership rights to your music. Stem simply makes it easier for you to collect money and data-driven insights from your work. 

I Only Control the Master Rights (Sound Recording) of the Song. Can I Use Stem?

Yes! As long as you have any claim on the master rights, we'll help you manage the payments. Visit Stem's blog to learn more about the music industry—click here to learn.

I Only Control a Percentage of the Composition Rights (Lyrics and Melody). Can I Use Stem?

Yes! As long as you have any claim to the composition rights, we'll help you manage the payments. To learn more about compositions, visit our blog and take a deep dive into "Music Publishing 101." This thorough starter guide helps clarify industry jargon that's needlessly complex. Click here to read.

I Am the Sole Owner of the Recording (Master) & the Composition (Lyrics And Melody). Can I Use Stem?

Yes! As long as you have any ownership claim on the sound recording and/or composition, we'll help you manage the payments, whether that amounts to .01 percent (minority owner) or 100 percent (sole owner).

What If Multiple Collaborators Wrote the Lyrics & Melody (the "Composition")?

Not a problem! Users can have unlimited shareholders, or collaborators, on a Stem contract. As long as the sum of your splits simply equals 100 percent, our system can handle the rest. Each shareholder receives their own Stem account, so any shareholder can access and manage content they have worked on.

I Want to Make Cover Songs & Sample, Can Stem Help Me With Clearances or Licensing?

Stem is not responsible for sample clearances or cover songs licensing. It is the content owner's responsibility to have secured those rights prior to uploading to our platform. However, we can provide educational tips that make this process less intimidating.