A sound recording, in the context of music, is the captured audio of a performance that can be replayed, reproduced, or broadcast. This could be a recording of a musical composition, a spoken word performance, ambient sounds, or any other audio event.
The copyright in a sound recording is distinct from the copyright in the musical work (the underlying musical composition, including any lyrics). This means that there are often multiple copyright owners for any given recorded song: the songwriter(s) or their publisher owns the rights to the musical work, and the artist or their record label owns the rights to that particular sound recording.
For example, the song “Respect” was originally written and performed by Otis Redding, who would hold the copyright in the musical work. When Aretha Franklin later recorded her famous cover version, she created a new sound recording, which would have its own copyright, held by Franklin or her record label.
Rights to a sound recording allow the owner to control how the recording is used and reproduced, including the right to issue licenses for digital streaming, physical sales, and public performances of the recording.
For more comprehensive information, visit the Sound Recording page on Wikipedia.