First Recording / First Use / First Release Rights
When a composer creates a new copyrighted work, US Copyright Law provides six immediate protections reserved for the copyright holder. Of these protections, one is the copyright holders right to control distribution of phonorecords (recordings) of their copyrighted work. Specifically, they reserve the exclusive control over who gets to release the first official audio-only recording of their work. This is an intangible asset, but one that can carry very real value. Because artists would need the direct permission from the songwriter, songwriters can receive large payments for licensing the first release. Once an official audio-only recording with permission from the copyright holder has been released, then any artists may release their own recordings without direct permission by obtaining a Compulsory Mechanical Licensing.