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SEMINAR 2: THE SONG
Part I The Song...
Songwriting -- SMP Hot Link
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With a closer examination, however, we find out (like with
everything else in life), the word "song" has double
meaning. And, like most words with double meaning, it spans the
gamut from a positive meaning...clear to a negative meaning. It
is amazing how many words have this full gamut of meaning. Because
of this, words need interpretation before they can be correctly
For example, to a skillful songwriter, a "song" is
a true mystical creation. However, to a stressed out high-pressure
promoter it may be just a piece of meat that he has to sell to
make a living! Ironically, when we think of a "song,"
it can have both the feeling of duration and of a fleeting moment!...A
song can denote a special majestic season of one's life or simply
a passing moment of the day. And, when we use the word "song"
in another way, it can even mean minutia to the max..."I
let it go for a song." (This expression is especially grating
to a professional songwriter!)
In other words, what one person sees as something that denotes
or expresses a mystical creation or a pinnacle in life, or what
one sees as the basis of one's entire creative life's work, or
what one sees as the basis of the entire music industry...another
may see as something that denotes minutia!!
And so goes life!
Isn't it ironic that a whole industry is based on such an enigmatic
and even ambiguous creature?
Yes, the song is enigmatic, but it is also the heart, soul,
and life's blood of the music business! It is the starting point
for all the money flow of the entire music industry. All money
generated in this industry is either generated directly from the
song, or from a peripheral money generating source that only exists
because of the song. It is the seed of the music business from
which all things generate.
The song and the business that surrounds it, from its creation
to its "death," is a prime example of many of the contrasts
that go on in life. For example, the contrast between writing
for the sake of artistry (creative talent) and writing just for
money, or between skill and luck, or even between good and bad.
It is via the song and the music business surrounding the song,
that we can experience the "starving artist," the "silver
spoon," the "lucky break," the "angel"
(the sugar daddy), and the "song shark" (the person
who makes it his profession to take advantage of the novice songwriter).
Part II The Dream...
The creation of a song is often via a dream like rapport with the "vision" in one's mind and/or heart. The words or music can even stand alone. Each can, by themselves, "sing" in the heart of the creator...especially for the romantic songwriter.
When the songwriter creates the song, he truly starts the whole
Ah, but back to reality...We also must remember that those
who sing this creation may want to do so without permission!!
And so goes the music business...
After the song is created, the songwriter has yet another "vision."..."This
baby is bound to be a bullet!" So, the next step for you,
the songwriter, is to plant this new creation so it will grow.
However, like anything else, as time rolls along, your song
is going to face the wiles of the "growing season."
So, this planted seed needs to be protected! Yes, there are a
lot of creatures that would love to eat the germinated seed as
soon as it pops its head out of the ground! The growing season
for the songwriter, as he makes his trek through the music business
arena, could also be likened to the songwriter falling into a
sea of sharks!...and the song shark is the first predator the
songwriter may have to face (we will talk more about this predator
But don't worry, you can even take a big sigh of relief at
this point in time, because there is some extremely good news!
The good news is that you are already protected...fully protected,
fully covered. And you didn't even have to do anything to get
that protection! It is a free gift! And this full protection started
at the beginning...at the creation of your song!
Yes, you are protected by the word of the U.S. Government.
It has declared you fully protected via its law...the U.S. Copyright
But now comes the bad news...you are a mere novice and don't
know/understand the extent of your covering protection...and,
you don't know how to get the full benefit from the full covering
that has been freely provided for you. As we will shortly see,
this, in itself, can become a totally devastating problem!
The question now is..."How do I come to realize the fullness
of the covering protection I have?"
The answer is...it's a learning process...it is a process of
realization. You have it fully and freely, but you have to now
realize what it is that you have already received! (And while
you embark on this realization process, the good news remains...i.e.,
even if you don't know and understand the scope of the covering
protection, or even if you don't know you have protection, you
are still covered!)
If that is true, then how can this thing that is 180 degrees
opposite the "good news" happen?...What is this totally
devastating bad news thing?
Well, it is something that lies on the horizon and CAN happen
even though you are now fully protected. Let me explain...
The key to the full protection is making sure your new creation
(the song) is governed by (comes under), the law that does the
protecting. For example, before your new creation was created,
the law existed, however, it provided no protection for you because
the copyright law did not govern any part of your existence back
So, the full protection that the copyright law avails, only
works for you when and where it has jurisdiction relative to you.
So, if you are not covered by that law, you are not the "protected
you," but become the "unprotected you." This is
why you do not want to neglect this realization/learning part
of the growing process. If you neglect this realization/learning/growing
part, that neglect could "enable" you to expose yourself...i.e.,
you may do something that would nullify the law that protects
you. Or, you could even give away your rights...you could "sell"
them for a "bowl of soup," as it were. You would then
"fall back" into a place where the law protection that
you were freely given, would now not apply, and you will have
been, in effect, eaten by the lions and sharks!...
So, sit down and learn...
Part III The Law Speaks for You...
The first thing to remember now is to sit down and shut up!
At this point, as the saying goes, your are to "be seen and
not heard." You don't need to speak to defend your song,
let the Copyright Law speak for you...but you do need to learn
what it is (the extent/fullness of the covering protection) that
you do have in that law. You need to know all that it avails to
you. Then, you need to learn how to "stay under" the
protection of that law so you will not become bait for a shark!
So, sit down and study it...learn the copyright law! You need
to know the full extent of your coverage protection before you
make a move. This is because the song shark lurks...he goes around
like a roaring lion waiting to devour you!
But also, NEVER forget this...a lion does not roar when there
is no prey!
So, sit, learn, realize, and know how NOT to become prey for
If you learn/realize the FULL protection you ALREADY have,
you will realize the lion is dead via the copyright law, and therefore
cannot eat you!
Ah, yes, but this will take faith...faith that the law, even
though you don't know what it says, will cover you and protect
you even in your ignorance!
That's where the teacher comes in...I'm here as a matured witness,
to tell you it will do what it says it will do, so just sit back
and relax, and we will take a look at how you are covered and
protected...even when you don't know it!
The Teacher Prepares You
A good way to learn something at the start, is to have a teacher
that will prepare a "scouting brochure" for you. This
will allow you to scout out a few things that may be of particular
interest to you. Remember, scouting is done with an eye on the
next step--FOCUS, i.e., scouting brings you to a point where you
can then focus in on one, or just a few points that will be used
to sharpen your knowledge in a particular area where you have
interest. The teacher must also prepare a number of questions
he knows you will need to know the answers to, and then answer
them for you!
Then, the next step is for the student to scout, focus, and learn those answers...and then the student must go out and get some experience, i.e., what was learned must be put to the test (that will come in Part IV when you meet your first shark!).
This is where you can scout on the SMP Site:
Copyright -- SMP Hot Link
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Below are some questions with regard to the U.S. Copyright
Law (the law that protects you Mr. or Ms. Songwriter!). You will
need to learn the answers to these questions...BEFORE you come
face to face with your first song shark:
1) What Is The Address Of The Copyright Office?
2) What Does The Copyright Office Do?
3) What Is A Copyright?
4) What Is Copyright Law?
5) Is There Any Protection Besides Copyright?
6) What Is Copyrightable Material?
7) What Is A Notice Of Copyright?
8) How Is A Copyright Registered?
9) What Are Registration Forms?
10) How Are Copyright Forms Acquired?
11) How Long Does A Copyright Last?
Here is where you will need the SMP Membership Full Text Version of Seminar #2, along with the access it gives to the SMP Hot Links you will find out how to "Take Care of Business" with detailed step-by-step answers to the 11 Questions just asked regarding copyright.
Go To Index List of All Seminars -- SMP Membership Full Text Version
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The good news is that with SMP Membership it is fairly easy
to learn about the copyright law and how that law protects you
from song sharks
However, learning and knowing the copyright
law is only the first step in protecting yourself. There are other
steps that are also involved. For example, you must learn about
the behind the scenes business part of how the Music Industry
You, as the songwriter, via the copyright law, own all the
rights in your song from the beginning when you created it...this
gives you the exclusive right to exploit your song and to generate
income from it.
Which begs the question..."How do I exploit my song?"...Here
is where knowing how the music business works comes into play.
To answer that question, you'll need to know the "order"
of things. Who does what...when.
The easiest way to get an overall grasp of this is to "follow
the money flow." Everyone in the music business has something
to do with money! And when there is money involved, you can be
sure there is a middleman, or more often, middlemen, not far behind!...And,
they will want their cut of the action.
Since generating a monetary income from your song comes from
exploiting the various rights you have, you must now learn how
to exploit those rights. You will soon find that exploiting your
rights means assigning your rights, or signing away your various
rights. These assignments will be made to (assigned to) established
music business people and companies. It will be these people and
companies who will exploit the rights for you...in exchange for
"a piece of the action."
First you will need to have a general idea of what types of
income are available to the songwriter. Some of the income sources
that a song can generate are:
1) Wages (paid only to songwriters who are work for hire employees
of a music publishing house),
2) One Time Fee (paid for all rights...with no royalty entitlement for the songwriter in the future),
3) Print Royalties (from printed sheet music and song folios, etc.),
4) Recording (Mechanical) Royalties (from record sales),
5) Compulsory Royalties (from cover records recorded and sold by other artists),
6) Synchronization Royalties (from synchronizing the song with a motion picture),
7) Transcription Royalties (from "elevator music" use licenses),
8) Multimedia Royalties (from multimedia CDs),
9) Performance Royalties (from radio, television, nightclub and live concert broadcasts),
10) Grand Rights Royalties (from legitimate theater performances),
11) Juke Box Royalties (from juke box performances),
12) Miscellaneous Licensings (toys, games, etc.), and
13) Foreign Royalties (from foreign use licensing contracts).
With SMP Membership you can avail yourself to a ton of info regarding these royalty incomes:
Royalties -- SMP Hot Link
Mechanical and Compulsory Licensing -- SMP Hot Link
Foreign Mechanical Licensing -- SMP Hot Link
Synchronization Licensing -- SMP Hot Link
Performance Licensing -- SMP Hot Link
Foreign Performance Licensing -- SMP Hot Link
Let it be said that one or many middlemen may be involved in
each area where income is generated. And the amount of "cut"
they receive will be regulated by statutory law or by a negotiated
contractual agreement. Further, some points of agreement that
are negotiated are considered standard in the industry, while
others are considered "negotiable." The key is to know
which points are governed by law, which are considered standard,
and which are negotiable.
Obviously, it is imperative that you, the songwriter, either
know the law and what the negotiated contracts say, or have a
representative working for you who will have this knowledge. Acquiring
this knowledge yourself is sometimes difficult.
A more common practice, than learning all of this yourself,
is to hook up with a professional. One professional you will probably
be in close association with in this regard is the music publisher.
And the music publisher is the next professional who I will be
introducing you to coming up in Seminar #3.
This is a good place to stop...we will take up with the music
publisher in the lesson for next session...
Remember, even though you are now starting to get a feel of
what is "out there," you are still only in Part III
of a VII part plan. Right now you should still be sitting...being
quiet...and learning what it is that you ought to learn!!
Hang in there!
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