Artists cash in on music royalties

By Hieu Nhan   September 21, 2022 | 02:30 am PT
Artists cash in on music royalties
An artist sings revolutionary songs at a cultural program in HCMC on June 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Musicians say they can now make a living from their art thanks to better copyright protection and royalties.

Composer Nguyen Van Chung said he earned royalties of more than VND1.2 billion ($50,000) in 2021, compared to just VND9 million when he first joined the Vietnam Center for Protection of Music Copyright (VCPMC) in 2006.

On similar lines, musician Hoai An said the royalties he collects today is hundreds of times greater than it was during the initial phase. Signing a contract with the VCPMC has allowed him to protect his royalty interests and given him greater confidence in his creative pursuits, he added.

"I used to have to visit businesses that played my music in order to request royalties. However, many were unwilling to pay me, making me feel irritated and wanting to quit being a musician."

Painter Van Thao, son of the late composer Van Cao (1923-1995), said his family had signed with VCMPC when it was first established.

Though his father is dead, his family still regularly receives royalties, as part of his father's goal of supporting his family through his music.

For its part, VCPMC says it has collected over VND1 trillion (over $42.2 million) in copyright fees since its inception in 2002.

VCPMC's revenues increased from VND78 million in 2002 to VND160 billion last year, the center said at a press conference Tuesday. It expects to earn more than VND230 billion this year.

Dinh Trung Can, general director of VCPMC, said revolutionary music earned the most royalties since it is used often in radio, television and cultural programs.

Following that is pop music, which is loved by mass audiences for a brief period of time before petering out.

Classical music came in last place since it is only sought by a small number of listeners. Can said that the number of musicians who joined VCPMC has grown from 240 in 2002 to 5,300 this year.

Several musicians have said that VCPMC also assists them in obtaining copyright protection.

Chung said several Chinese and Thai artists used his song "Vang Trang Khoc" (rough translation: The Crying Moon) in 2008, prompting many to assume he had plagiarized the track.

He then asked VCPMC to submit a request to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers to have the song checked and recognized as his. His honor was restored as a result.

Giang Son said she received legal assistance from VCPMC in her copyright infringement dispute with BH Media over the song "Giac Mo Trua" (rough translation: My Afternoon Dream).

"The center helped me with legal documents and protecting my works," she said.

The center has signed bilateral arrangements with approximately 200 countries and territories, with authorization from over five million musicians.

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