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SEMINAR 3: MUSIC PUBLISHING
It is important, not only to learn WHAT you have to know, but
it is even more important to know HOW to learn it! This is because
if you learn HOW to learn, that understanding will carry forward
into every endeavor you are faced with in life. It will make your
life a whole lot less complicated. If life is easier in general,
learning WHAT you have to learn becomes easier as well.
I hope these seminars will sharpen your abilities in BOTH of
If you have been following our method of learning so far, it would be summed up simply by saying...
a. Overview everything to try to see the "big picture."
b. Determine how specific situations fit into the big picture.
c. FOCUS in on the matter at hand.
d. And then go through the process of realization clear through to fruition.
And, the key to attaining fruition is DISCIPLINE. And this discipline must be focused AT EVERY POINT to be able to stay on track.
This is the "catch 22" of life...it takes discipline
to come to fruition, but it takes going through the realization
process unto fruition over and over to develop discipline!!
That is why much of life before you are 30 (well, nowadays
make that 50...since we've digressed so much!) takes on the character
of "making a mess and cleaning it up." Or, as is the
plight of many at that point in life, simply REaction to one crisis
In short, attaining discipline takes learning AND experience.
Or, more precisely, attaining discipline takes learning and experience
after learning and experience after learning and experience after
learning and experience!
So, the true reality of life is, "in the early years,"
i.e., life before (without) discipline, many many hours will simply
be chalked up to "learning and experience."
To put it another way, in the "life before discipline"
(LBD) years, you are not a "seer," but a "busybody
Seers are able to foresee. Seers avoid much of the busy work
and "crisis management" that are the earmark of the
LBD years...the attention deficit syndrome years. They are able
to do this by combining their prior learning and experience skills
into a mastery. With this COMBINED knowledge they develop what
is called wisdom. And it is wisdom that avails the making of correct
interpretations. No wisdom
no ability to see (foresee). No
ability to foresee...no ability to avoid potentially disastrous
situations BEFORE they happen.
The whole point here is that all this good news is based on
discipline (learning plus experience), while all the bad news
is based on the lack of discipline.
It's your choice.
Seers are disciplined...Non-seers fall into pits and walk into
Those with wisdom are disciplined...Boneheads...not disciplined.
These are the cold hard facts...if you are not disciplined,
you will never be a seer, you will never attain wisdom. You will
spend your entire life climbing out of the pits you continually
fall into as you walk blindly in the dark. Or, you will "live"
a life of "immobility" as a result of being bound up
in casts trying to heal all the broken bones you got from banging
into all those walls and falling off all those cliffs!! Or, you
will walk blindfolded off the plank of the "ship of the music
business" and end up in a sea of sharks who will devour you
in an instant.
(And by the way, the word seer also has double meaning that
spreads the gamut from good to bad...a gypsy fortune teller "seer"
who steals all your money with bogus "seeings" into
the "future" vs. a seer who foretells the future because
he's not a thief or bonehead, but because he's a wise, seasoned,
mature person, in action giving witness with/to his mastery...he
sees it, proclaims it, and lives it...he IS it.)
Now, back to the present...let's quickly (but importantly)
look back at where we've been to this point in this course to
enable a proper reassessment, to enable a proper pinpointing of
where we are in our realization process, and thereby enabling
us to proficiently move forward in our learning and experience...to
move forward in and unto discipline, then to mastery, then to
In Seminar 1 we overviewed the possibilities of the music business.
In Seminar 2 we discussed copyright in order to learn what it
is that maps out the whole music industry. It is the copyright
law that is the basic governing set of principals for the song,
and therefore for the entire music industry.
Now, we will take up with the music publisher in this session's
lesson. Remember, we are still sitting and learning...we are still
in Part III.
THE MUSIC PUBLISHER
Music Publishing -- SMP Hot Link
Many of the experiences a person has to face in this business
is often best done by a professional representative. An experienced
professional can navigate the waters for you and save you from
That's the good news.
Like with anything, there is also the bad news. The bad news
is that, if they are professional but also dishonest, they can
navigate you into a disaster from which you may never recover!!
So, no matter what the pain, you will have to learn enough
so as to be able to at least recognize an obvious thief. However,
the really bad news is that know matter how much you learn and
know, there is still the possibility you may get stung. (About
the only way to absolutely nullify the possibility of getting
stung is to not own anything, or potentially own anything...thieves
don't come after you if you don't presently, or in your "potential
future," have anything to steal...The next best approach
is to be a trial lawyer...at least then you can sue the thief
and hopefully come out with it costing him a little more than
it would cost you...that is, if he's not also a trial lawyer!)
But, like most in the music business, you probably are not
a trial lawyer, and you probably own "stuff," or, have
the potential to someday own stuff ...so, the next best approach
is to learn as much as possible about professional representatives.
This will give you a big edge in your venture to success.
One such professional representative that can be of much benefit
is the music publisher.
And, even though hooking up with a music publisher that would
represent you and thereby unload much of the "what you must
know to be successful in the music business" burden, you
must proceed with caution. Caution is the operative word when
you attempt to procure any type of professional representation.
Before you even start to look for a music publisher, you must
have a relatively solid understanding of what music publishers
do. Plus, you must be able to accurately evaluate what they can
do for you both now and in the long run. And also, you must determine
what their "track record" is by checking out what they
have done for others in the recent past.
So, what is a music publisher and what do they do?
A music publisher is a business that secures the legal rights to musical compositions and exploits such rights with the intention of making a profit. Or, a person, called a "self-publisher," who engages in the same activity. As copyright proprietor, they administer the business and financial aspects of publishing that may include:
1) Registering (and renewing pre 1978) copyrights,
2) Securing licensing agents with regard to print licenses, mechanical licenses, compulsory licenses, purchase licenses, transcription licenses, synchronization licenses, and performance licenses, e.g., coming into contractual alliance with mechanical rights agents, performance rights societies, and with foreign publishers,
3) Coming up with the appropriate contracts to assign rights in copyright via licenses to music users, e.g., mechanical licenses, synchronization licenses and print licenses and keeping records of any right transfers, assignments, or mortgages,
4) Obtaining record releases,
5) Collecting song incomes and royalties from licensed agents, e.g., royalties from publishing, performance, mechanical, print, synchronization, merchandising, etc.,
6) Auditing licensed agent representatives to insure they are paying proper royalties and deducting correct amounts for administrative service charges,
7) Accounting for royalties collected, e.g., to songwriters and co-publishers,
8) Reporting to the IRS on Form 1099-MISC certain royalties, independent contractor fees, salaries, commissions, interests, rents, pensions, medical assistance programs or health, accident, and sickness insurance programs, certain direct sales of consumer products for resale, and other compensations paid out. Each recipient is reported separately and the report must include the recipient's name, address, taxpayer identification number (social security number for sole proprietorships), and the total paid,
9) Paying the required employment and other taxes to the proper tax agencies, and
10) Distributing the proper royalty payments, accompanied by
a royalty statement, to affiliated songwriters and co-publishers.
Some publishing deals only involve a music publisher handling
a specified portion of the above listed overall responsibilities.
For example, one limited type of publishing deal is called an
"administration deal." Here, only a limited supervision
of the song catalog would be handled, e.g., copyright registration
and financial accounting. While obtaining record releases would
be handled by the songwriter/artist or label/production company.
This often happens where the songwriter/artist owns his own production
company and label.
A full-time top rated music publisher will receive up to (and
many music publishers in excess of) 300 unsolicited songs each
week. The publisher will also receive many other new songs from
songwriters they deal with on a regular basis.
When a publisher accepts a song and a contract is signed, the
song becomes a part of the publisher's catalog and the publisher
then may exploit the song to generate income which is split with
the songwriter according to their contractual agreement.
THE SONGWRITER-PUBLISHER CONTRACT
Here is where you will need the SMP Membership Full Text Version of Seminar #3, along with the access it gives to the SMP Hot Links you will find out how to "Take Care of Business" with various Contract Negotiation Tips, info about the standard royalty cuts, and a list of the 48 most important Clauses of a Songwriter/Publisher Contract!
Go To SMP Membership Full Text Version -- Index List of All Seminars
Get Your SMP Membership Password Here!
Now we have come to the end of Part III and only now are you
able to enjoy the "first fruits" of your endeavor. Now
you will be able to stand up (remember you are sitting) and take
a few baby steps to "test the waters."
Part IV The Experience...Making
The Moves...The Mix
Now, as we continue in our quest to follow the song from its
creation to its fruition, the next step is to make the first move,
as it were. And, be warned, it is from here on out where the big
As you go out and test the waters, remember, if you are well
prepared, the sharks will leave you alone...if not, the bite will
hurt! It may even "kill" you...it may destroy your career.
Yes, one big shrewd shark can finish you off before you realize
your dream of riding your bullet to the top!
So, you are now armed with some knowledge about contracts and
the copyright law is also on your side...but is this enough protection?
You will soon find out! This is because you will now actually
have to sign a contract and get into the mix of the music business!
Remember, learning and experience brings discipline, then mastery,
then USEFUL action. The action you are now taking is TESTING action..."on
the job" experience. With USEFUL action you make income $$$,
with TESTING action the $$$ is sometimes "optional!"
Or, to put it in street talk, "other people simply take your
It is now when you will usually meet your first song shark...when
you are getting your feet wet...right at the water's edge! This
is because the song shark usually presents himself as a "music
publisher" with a Songwriter/Publisher Contract in hand...his
contract...a "take it or leave it contract."
Often, to make a long story short, the contract is worded so
he will get most of the income your song will generate. This is
usually done by having the Songwriter/Publisher Contract assign
all the rights in copyright to him...this then, assigns him all
the money that those rights may avail!! Remember, although the
copyright law was "freely given" to you at the creation
of your song, it will only continue to protect you if you are
"under its umbrella." If you assign your rights to another
(sell the rights for a "bowl of soup"), you then "fall
back" into a place where the law will not apply to you...you
will then not be able to apply the copyright law to protect yourself...but,
instead, the shark WILL be able to apply the copyright law to
Further, the shark is almost always a "vanity" publisher.
He will want money up front to publish "your" song.
The long and short of it is...he simply takes your money, and
then takes your money.
Never pay to have a song published. That is rule number one
in the music business.
It is in these waters where you may encounter new types of
sharks! "Demo shops" that promise to make your song
sound like a hit, will sometimes "take your money for a song"...if
you know what I mean! "Tip sheets" that sell for big
money, or other services that offer to "get you in the door"
of the record label, can often cost an arm and a leg. Be careful.
Try to get a word-of-mouth tip as to who can really help you in
these areas. If you were prudent and signed on with a legitimate
music publisher, they should be able to guide you through these
LaCostaMusic.com offers two ways to make contact with producers
and record labels. The first is via a SongConnect
Members get a free list of music publishers and producers who
are currently looking for songs to record by simply joining that
membership site: Join SongConnect.
The second way to make contact with the pros is via the LaCostaMusic.com
Get Signed! Tip Sheet which lists record labels and producers
who are looking to sign new acts: Get Signed! Tip Sheet
When you plug a song, keep attacking. Position yourself to
be available to the right people at the right time...be creative.
Do some legwork. Do some more legwork. Persistence will pay off!
If you use a demo shopping agent, be sure to sign a contract
with them defining your agreement. Check out the "Demo Shopping
Agreement I" that La Costa Music offers on our form contracts
page: Form Contracts.
OK, we will stop here
see you next session!
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