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Deceased Musicians' Beneficiary Music Royalties

When a musician passes away, their right to receive musician royalties passes to their estate.

Last updated: 14 July 2021

The MU assists beneficiaries of musicians’ estates to set up a Beneficiary royalty account so that they can continue to receive any due royalties. With a Probate (or equivalent) we can take instruction from the Executor to set up a Beneficiary Royalty account, to pay through held and future royalties. Without a Probate, we have other options available to beneficiaries. 

Setting up a Beneficiary royalty account

The MU needs to confirm that you are the rightful beneficiary of your loved one’s royalties.  We will ask you to provide documentation that evidences this.  In the first instance, this will be a Grant of Probate, or equivalent, that names the executor.  We will then ask the Executor to provide identification, and to advise the MU who the rightful beneficiary is, and for their contact details and payee information. 

If there is no Probate, we can explore other options.  We’ll begin by asking you for documentation that evidences your relationship to the deceased, such as birth, death, or marriage certificates, and/or a copy of the Will.  We may ask you to declare in writing that you are the rightful beneficiary.

Copyright term

The current term of copyright in a sound recording is 70 years for recordings first released in 1963 or later.  Recordings released prior to 1963 are now in the public domain and do not attract royalties. Due to the long life of copyright, it’s possible that the right to receive royalties can pass to subsequent beneficiaries.