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Songwriter’s Pie Anyone?

By | Music Business, Music Publishing | No Comments

by Shelly Peiken, as seen on Huffington Post

I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this. I many never work in this town again. But here goes.

As a professional songwriter for over 25 years, I was drawn to a piece that was put out on the wire by the Associated Press last week. Reporter, Mesfin Fekadu posed the question, “How Many Songwriters Does it Take to Produce a Hit?” He was told that these days it often takes as many as 8-10, or as John Legend aptly put it in the piece, “writing by committee.” Or, as some of my colleagues call it, “Frankenwriting.” Because it feels more like building a song than crafting one.

I’ve just finished writing a memoir, Confessions Of A Serial Songwriter, which addresses this new approach to writing a song as well as other recent interesting twists and turns in music industry culture. Mr. Fekadu’s article just scratches the surface of the ways in which mainstream songwriters are being given a run for their money. Or should I say scrambling for what little money is left on the table.
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Music and How the Money Flows

By | Copyright, Music Business, Music Publishing | No Comments

via FutureOfMusic.org

How are musicians and songwriters compensated when their music is played on the radio, sold on digital platforms, webcast or streamed on interactive services?

It’s complicated. That’s why, in June 2013, Future of Music Coalition released a set of infographics that illustrate how the money flows from various services back to US-based musicians and composers/songwriters. TThis infographic has been quite popular, with mentions on CD Baby, Hypebot and Digital Music News, to name a few.

Click the image below to see it in a larger format.

The Importance Of Split Sheets

By | Lessons, Music Publishing, Songwriting | No Comments

Split sheets are very important for all creators that collaborate with others. It can mean the difference between getting paid & not seeing a dime.

A split sheet is a simple document that lays out who owns what part(s) of a particular song. It should have the following:

  • Song title
  • Date
  • Names, Publishers & PROs of all writers
  • Split Percentages
  • Signatures of all writers

Standard practice is to split the percentages equally amongst the writers. For example, if there are two writers, the splits are 50/50. You can also break it down by lyric & melody. For example, if Writer A wrote the music & Writers B and C wrote the lyrics, Writer A would receive 50% and Writers B and C would each receive 25%.

The importance of the split sheet comes into play when a song is placed. If you have this split sheet signed and dated by all co-writers, you have proof of ownership. Several scenarios could occur without this backup, including the following:

  • Someone could claim more than their fair share & put the song into dispute. When a song is in dispute, no one gets paid until it is resolved.
  • You could miss the chance of a song placement because a writer couldn’t be found.
  • The song could get placed & someone could erase you from the credits. No credit = no royalties.

Split Sheet Example #1
Split Sheet Example #2

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Benefits of Copyright Registration

By | Lessons, Music Publishing | No Comments

Although registration is not a legal requirement for a copyright to exist, there are many important advantages of federal copyright registration. A copyright must be timely registered in order to take legal action against an act of infringement. Without federal registration, you cannot legally prevent someone from copying or using your original work.

Advantages of federal copyright registration include:

  • Copyright registration establishes a public record of your copyright.
  • Your copyright must be registered in order to take legal action against an act of infringement.
  • If registered within five years of publication, your registration certificate is prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright.
  • If registered within three months of publication or before an infringement occurs, once proven, statutory damages of up to $150,000 plus attorney’s fees could be awarded to you as copyright owner, even if your actual damages are minimal.
  • Registration provides powerful ammunition against potential infringement.
  • If you don’t register your copyright and someone else claims your work as their own, you will have to prove that it is actually yours. Registration avoids this burden of proof.
  • Copyright encourages creativity by giving exclusive property rights to “works of authorship,” enabling the creator to reap financial rewards from their works by controlling access to the works in the marketplace.

The United States has copyright treaties with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, each country respects the copyrights of the others. Currently, a U.S. copyright is honored in 190 countries around the world.

For more information on registering your works with the US Copyright Office, click here.

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