Musicians: understand neighbouring rights

When a performing artist (musician, actor, dancer, vaudeville or circus artist) takes part in the performance of a work, and if that performance is recorded and then broadcast or copied, the artist in question is entitled to a remuneration/fee. In other words, the artist acquire a neighbouring right at the moment of the performance.

This remuneration is a compensation for the fact that once recorded, the music and audiovisual works you have participated in as a performer can be exploited without your consent.

In Belgium, the incomes behind your neighbouring rights as a musician come from four remunerations:

  1. Equitable remuneration,
  2. Private Copying,
  3. Lending right,
  4. Additional annual remuneration.

1- Equitable remuneration 

The concept of equitable remuneration equitable remuneration is a mandatory levy, that must be paid when the recorded music is broadcast in a location accessible to the public.

Shopkeepers, hotels, restaurants, cafes and event organizers who make secondary use of recorded music must also pay this license. Right to equitable remuneration is based on the right of the communication to the public available to each musician, this right cannot be transferred. In return, licence payers must pay the equitable remuneration to pay performers and producers.

It is therefore a financial compensation for the use of music without the consent of the performers and producers to broadcast it in a public place.

The collection of the licence is made by Unisono who transfers the equitable remuneration to SIMIM for the share that belongs to the music producers and to PlayRight for the share that belongs to the performers, on an equal basis between the two collecting societies (50 / 50). SIMIM and PlayRight then distribute this equitable remuneration to their affiliated members.

2- Private copying

The law authorizes the copy of music and films on devices and media such as CDs, tablets or USB sticks without the consent of authors, performers and producers being required, as long as the copy is made for private purposes.

As a compensation, the rightsholders have a right to remuneration called “remuneration for private copying”. This remuneration is debited when purchasing devices and recordable media (listed in a royal decree). It is collected by Auvibel and then distributed at one third to each collecting societies who represent:

  • The performers (PlayRight),
  • The producers,
  • The authors.

3- Remuneration for lending rights

The performers also have a remuneration for lending rights. The principles of this remuneration is the same as the private copying: a performer cannot prevent the lending of libraries so likewise institutions have to pay a remuneration for lending rights.

This remuneration is reserved to the rightsholders, for the lent of the recordings they participated in. Once collected, PlayRight handles the distribution the share that belongs to the performers, for one or several reference years.

The share of the remuneration for the lending rights for sound and audio-visual recordings is currently estimated at 16.5%. Auvibel is the company in charge of distributing this share of remunerations collected by Reprobel. Then Auvibel transfers one third to each collecting societies who represent:

  • The performers,
  • The producers,
  • The authors.

These are the three remunerations that PlayRight currently collect each year, manage and distribute to the affiliated performers, musicians and actors.  

PlayRight therefore is working to increase the scope of these remunerations and encourages, for example, the online platforms to remunerate the performers for the broadcasting of their work/recording online. More information on

4- Annual additional remuneration

Everywhere in Europe, the duration of protection of neighbouring rights for music recordings was extended from 50 to 70 years. The aim of this extension is to remunerate all the musicians who transferred their rights to the producers in exchange of a flat sum.

To ensure that this extension does not occur only in favour of the producers, the producer can continue to exploit the recordings provided that the income obtained during the additional protection period is shared: the producer must therefore transfer 20% of that income to the collecting society which represents the musicians.

In January 2017, PlayRight succeeded to obtain an official mandate to collect and distribute this remuneration. It is valid for recordings made since 1963.


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