Do I Need to Register My Copyright Twice?
It is important to note the distinction between a musical composition and a sound recording. The musical composition is the intellectual property of the composer(s) who created it, or their publishers. It is includes aspects like the lyrics, melody, rhythm, and harmony. The sound recording is the physical and digital property of the recording artist or recording label that produced it. Each one is separately protected under copyright. In some cases, you can register both parts together in the same filing, other times you must file them separately.
Here's what the United States Copyright Office has to say about registering these two parts of a song:
"Since a musical composition and a sound recording are distinct works, separate registration applications generally should be submitted for each work. However, you may use one standard application to register a sound recording and an underlying musical composition when (1) the musical composition and sound recording are embodied in the same phonorecord and (2) the claimant for both the musical composition and sound recording are the same."
So if you are a songwriter and another artist records your song, you would register the musical composition only. If you are an artist recording someone else's song, then you would register your sound recording only. If you've written your own song and recorded it yourself, then you would register both the musical composition and the sound recording. When registering a single work, you may be able to register the musical composition and sound recording together in one application.
To register your copyright, you can do so with the United States Copyright Office or we can assist you today through our Copyrighting Service!
copyright.gov - Circular 56A, "Copyright Registration of Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings"
copyright.gov - Circular 56, "Copyright Registration for Sound Recordings"
copyright.gov - Circular 50, "Copyright Registration for Musical Compositions"