In music terminology, the “master” refers to the original recording from which copies or reproductions are made. It’s considered the final, definitive version of a track or an album, fully mixed and mastered to professional standards.
However, in the context of the music industry and music rights, a “master” often refers to the master recording rights. These rights are usually held by the party who financed the recording. This is often a record label, but can also be the artists themselves if they are independent or have negotiated ownership of their masters.
Ownership of the master recordings is incredibly valuable as it gives the rights holder control over the official recording of a song or album, including the right to license it for use in various media (like TV shows, movies, commercials, etc.), and the right to earn money from the sale or streaming of the recording. This is typically done through a Master License, as discussed previously.
It’s important to differentiate between the master rights and the publishing rights of a song. While the master rights refer to the specific recording of a song, the publishing rights refer to the underlying composition – the melody, lyrics, and other fundamental elements that make up the song.
For more comprehensive information, you can visit the Master Recording page on Wikipedia.