ASCAP, BMI creating joint music database

Set to go live by end of 2018

ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two leading performing rights organizations, have joined forces to create a single, comprehensive database of musical works from their combined repertories that will deliver an authoritative view of ownership shares in the vast majority of music licensed in the United States.

As you know, virtually all other countries get by with one P.R.O.  The USA has three: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Actually, there are four, if you include Global Music Rights (GMR) an invitation-only organization formed by Irving Azoff in 2013. Although all the P.R.O.s have a good working relationship, there have been limited instances of any of them truly working together. Until now.

We now have what appears to be good news for songwriters, publishers and those wishing to more easily identify information to, say, acquire sync licenses. The announcement came a few days after news that Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) had introduced the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act that was not viewed favorably by the P.R.O.s representing songwriters and publishers.

Predictably, the lawmakers who sponsored the bill reacted negatively to the announcement from the P.R.O.s. Also expressing a negative opinion was the Music Innovation Consumer (MIC) Coalition. MIC is an organization that lobbies on behalf of the radio and tech sectors, such as the Digital Media Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.

ASCAP, BMI issue joint statement

The remainder of this post mostly contains the text of a joint release issued by ASCAP and BMI on June 26, 2017.  You can read the original release at ASCAP’s website here and at BMI’s website here.

Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP CEO

Expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, the first-of-its-kind database will feature aggregated song ownership data from ASCAP and BMI and offer greater transparency to music users and the industry.  The announcement was made today by Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP and Mike O’Neill, President and CEO, BMI.

Michael O’Neill, BMI CEO

A cross functional team of copyright, technical and data experts from BMI and ASCAP began working on the project over one year ago in anticipation of the demand from licensees and the industry for more clarity around ownership shares.  The database, which will be publicly available initially via ASCAP’s and BMI’s websites, will feature aggregated information from BMI’s and ASCAP’s repertories and will indicate where other performing rights organizations may have an interest in a musical work. The joint database will serve as a foundation that can evolve to include a broader range of music information across the entire industry.

Matthews commented, “ASCAP and BMI are proactively and voluntarily moving the entire industry a step forward to more accurate, reliable and user-friendly data. We believe in a free market with more industry cooperation and alignment on data issues.  Together, ASCAP and BMI have the most expertise in building and managing complex copyright ownership databases. With our combined experience, we are best positioned to make faster headway in creating a robust, cost effective market solution to meet the needs of the licensing marketplace.” Continue reading “ASCAP, BMI creating joint music database”

ASCAP and YouTube Reach Multi-Year Agreement

ASCAP to combine database with YouTube’s Data Exchange

ASCAP and YouTube have signed a multi-year agreement, effective immediately, for US public performance rights and data collaboration. The mutual goal of this agreement is to work together to ensure that ASCAP members get paid more fairly and accurately for the use of their music on YouTube, according to an ASCAP press release.

As part of the P.R.O.’s negotiated, voluntary licensing deal, ASCAP will combine its database of 10.5 million musical works with YouTube’s data exchange. The evolution of the agreement between the two entities leverages YouTube’s data exchange and ASCAP’s vast database of musical works to address the industry challenge of identifying songwriter, composer and publisher works on YouTube, and demonstrates ASCAP’s commitment to building industry-leading data capabilities. This innovative collaboration will enable new levels of monetization and transparency for ASCAP and its members.

‘Higher compensation’ for ASCAP members

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews commented: “This agreement achieves two important ASCAP goals – it will yield substantially higher overall compensation for our members from YouTube and will continue to propel ASCAP’s ongoing transformation strategy to lead the industry toward more accurate and reliable data. The ultimate goal is to ensure that more money goes to the songwriters, composers and publishers whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.”

“YouTube is dedicated to ensuring artists, publishers and songwriters are fairly compensated,” said Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube. “As YouTube delivers more revenue to the music industry through a combination of subscription and advertising revenue, it’s great to see ASCAP take a progressive approach towards the long term financial success of its members.”

According to an article published on Billboard’s website, ASCAP and its counterparts BMI and SESAC still don’t have a choice about whether to license their music to YouTube or other licensees – they are required to grant interim licenses under the terms of their decades-old consent decrees with the Justice Department if they can’t immediately come to voluntary licensing agreements. ASCAP and BMI have been lobbying lawmakers in Washington to reform these consent decrees so that they can seek market rates for their music instead.

Other societies, such as Global Music Rights, have more freedom because they aren’t governed by consent decrees. GMR, founded three years ago by music manager Irving Azoff, does not currently license its works to YouTube because the two companies haven’t been able to agree on a price.

BMI has a direct license with YouTube and is currently discussing a new long-term agreement. BMI spokeswoman Liz Fischer said that YouTube has been “a good partner.” Read the full Billboard article here.

More at the ASCAP website and @ASCAP on Facebook.

“I Met A Girl” is a Musical Milestone for William Michael Morgan

His first number one song, four years in the making

Congrats to Warner Bros / WMN’s newcomer William Michael Morgan and the co-writers Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally and Trevor Rosen who were feted on January 30th for Morgan’s Number One hit “I Met A Girl.” The Number One party, held at South, was co-hosted by ASCAP and First Tennessee Bank.  The song, produced by Scott Hendricks (Blake Shelton) and Jimmy Ritchey (Mark Chesnutt), is from Morgan’s debut studio album, VINYL (Warner Bros Nashville) which was released on September 30, 2016, following his self-titled EP.

Photo Credit: Preshias Harris
Left to Right: Shane McAnally, William Michael Morgan and Trevor Rosen. Not pictured is Sam Hunt.

“I Met a Girl” is the debut single and first number one record for Morgan and has sold over 300,000 copies since its radio add date of August 24, 2015. It was also included on his debut studio album, “Vinyl,” which was released on September 30, 2016, following his self-titled EP.

During the media interviews prior to the Number One celebration, Shane said that they’d written the song about four years ago. Morgan said, “We hung on to it and hung on to it.” He recalled. “Once it was recorded, we kept listening to it.  We believed it was just a wonderful song all around.”

The lyrics have special meaning for Morgan

The song has a poignant meaning for Morgan. Thinking back to the birth of his daughter and meeting his fiancé brings a whole new meaning to the song for him. “God was moving the chess pieces around,” he said. “We found out the song was Number One on the same day as the album ‘Vinyl’ came out.”

“I Met A Girl” Number One Party

It seems the song has resonated with listeners, too. “I Met A Girl” spent 52 weeks on the charts and has reached an airplay audience of 1.1 billion. The song has also been streamed 25 million times.

The song has received positive reviews from music critics. Taste of Country® awarded “I Met a Girl” with the Taste of Country® Critic’s Pick, saying that the single is “a warm country love song that slows time” adding that “strong songwriting and Morgan’s smooth baritone make the song tough to resist.” So hit replay! More at www.williammichaelmorgan.com.

It takes perseverance

Personal note: Aspiring artists and songwriters should take note of Morgan’s progress along the road to chart success. Around four years elapsed between the time the song was written and the afternoon he stood up to receive his Number One award.  If you expect fame and fortune within months of arriving in Music City, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.  It takes perseverance and strength of character to keep improving your musical skills, perfecting your stagecraft, building your network of industry contacts and learning from your co-writers.  When the real opportunity appears, you’ll be ready to grasp it!

Cole Swindell’s long road to success

Three ‘Number One’ parties in one day

three Number One parties in one day for Cole Swindell
three Number One parties in one day for Cole Swindell

Celebrating a Number One song is a big moment in any songwriter’s life, particularly if you also happen to be the artist who recorded it. How about THREE Number Ones, celebrated at three different parties on the same day?

That’s what happened to Cole Swindell on Monday, September 12. The three party ‘pub crawl’ started off at South on Nashville’s Demonbreun Street, where ASCAP and BMI got together to honor Cole Swindell, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley (all BMI writers) and Michael Carter (ASCAP) for co-writing “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.”

At the party, Swindell revealed that the idea for the song title came from a

Pictured (L-R): BMI’s David Preston, manager Kerri Edwards, Big Loud Mountain’s Craig Wiseman, Round Hill’s Penny Gattis, songwriter and producer Michael Carter, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, BMI artist Cole Swindell, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing’s Terry Wakefield and Warner Music Nashville’s John Esposito. Photo: Steve Lowry.
Pictured (L-R): BMI’s David Preston, manager Kerri Edwards, Big Loud Mountain’s Craig Wiseman, Round Hill’s Penny Gattis, songwriter and producer Michael Carter, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, BMI artist Cole Swindell, Sony/ATV Tree Publishing’s Terry Wakefield and Warner Music Nashville’s John Esposito. Photo: Steve Lowry.

text he received, maybe from an old flame, that said, “Hope you get lonely tonight.” He was getting ready to go on stage and showed the text to Luke Bryan’s guitarist Michael Carter. They agreed that it sounded like a great song title, and together with Florida Georgia Line’s Hubbard and Kelley, they developed the idea and the song came together quickly. They made a ‘work tape’ and played it for anyone who’d listen… all of whom agreed it sounded like a hit. They were right.

The party then moved next door to Dawg House to recognize Swindell along with Josh Martin (SESAC) and Adam Sanders (ASCAP), the writers of the Number One hit “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.” Finally, the third party took place just down the street at the Tin Roof, honoring Swindell, Michael Carter and Jody Stevens (BMI) who wrote “Let Me See Ya Girl,” another Number One single from Swindell’s self-titled album (Warner Bros. Nashville). All three Number Ones were produced by Michael Carter.

As icing on the cake, Swindell was presented with an RIAA-certified Platinum disc for his self-titled album, only the second Platinum certification so far in 2016. All in all, a pretty memorable day for Mr. Swindell.

‘Write your way to a record deal’

If anyone is the poster-child for ‘write your way to a record deal,’ it’s Cole Swindell. First and foremost, he sees himself as a songwriter. And he has certainly paid his dues with eyes always on the prize of his own recording contract. After leaving college in 2007, he moved to Nashville and got a job selling merchandise on the road for three years for his friend Luke Bryan, constantly songwriting, honing his craft.

It paid off in 2010 when he signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. He started racking up writing (and co-writing) credits with cuts such as Craig Campbell’s “Outta My Head,” Thomas Rhett’s “Get Me Some of That,” FGL’s “This Is How We Roll” and numerous songs recorded by Luke Bryan including “Roller Coaster,” “In Love With The Girl,” “Beer in the Headlights,” as well as Scotty McCreery’s “Water Tower Town” and many others. He became known as a songwriter who could consistently deliver.

Cole Swindell, in his distinctive Georgia Southern baseball cap
Cole Swindell, in his distinctive Georgia Southern baseball cap

In 2013, Swindell recorded a single of “Chillin’ It” and released it independently. He got the single to SiriusXM’s “The Highway” channel and began to get airplay, and that – along with his proven track record as a writer – brought him to the attention of Warner Music Nashville who signed him to a record deal. . With Warner’s boost, “Chillin’ It” made it to Number One on Billboard’s Hot Country chart.

It was no “overnight success” for Swindell. It virtually never is, for anybody. He found a way to start out “in the business,” selling merch for his college frat brother, Luke Bryan, then writing songs at every opportunity, co-writing with others, developing his skills, building his network, learning his way around the music business. It was a steady, progressive journey – almost ten years – that took him from selling tour tee shirts to celebrating three Number One hits and receiving a Platinum album on a single day.

Cole’s inspiring story

If you are an aspiring artist and it seems “like forever” that you’ve been plugging away, writing songs and looking for the big break, take heart from Cole Swindell’s story. If you have friends and family members suggesting “you’ve been in Nashville for a year and you still don’t have a record deal,” tell them about Swindell and how you are following his example, dedicating yourself to developing your writing skills and proving to record labels that you have the potential to be a ‘product’ worthy of their investment, possibly of millions of their dollars.

It takes time to achieve success. The most brilliant and successful brain surgeon started off as an anonymous intern in a hospital. Major League baseball players work their way up to ‘The Big Show’ by developing their abilities playing at A, AA and AAA minor league clubs before getting called up. They know that success takes time because they have to develop their skills and prove their worth. The same applies to you in the music industry.

If you have a ‘Doubting Thomas’ in your family who thinks you should give up the dream, tell them the story of Cole Swindell’s long (but worthwhile) road to success. While you’re at it, tell it to yourself, too. Just as he did, visualize yourself holding your first Number One plaque!

More about Cole Swindell here.

* * *

Writers awarded Kyser Capos

It's Kyser Capo time!
It’s Kyser Capo time!

All ASCAP songwriters receive a Kyser KG6K 6-String Guitar Capo on the occasion of their first Number One. Each custom-made Capo is gold-tone and inscribed #1 ASCAP. Pictured left to right at the Dawg House, celebrating the Number One hit, “Aint Worth The Whiskey:
Cole Swindell, Michael Carter, Adam Sanders and ASCAP Nashville’s Mike Sistad.

Photo Credit: Mike Harris.

 

SONGWRITERS: Can you answer these seven questions?

Build your Music Biz I.Q.!

guitar and mic 02In every business, there are some things you just have to know. Your songwriting career is no different. Here are seven questions you should be able to answer. If you’re not sure of the answers, go online and search for the information before you scroll down to read the answers. By carrying out your own research, you are more likely to retain the information, adding to your knowledge of the music industry.

QUESTIONS

  1. What are the 6 exclusive rights bestowed upon the owner of a song’s copyright?
  2. What should you do after you have written (or co-written) a song?
  3. True or false: A song has copyright as soon as you finish writing it.
  4. Name the three Performing Rights Organizations (P.R.O.s) in the United States.
  5. What is a P.R.O. and why do you need to belong to one?
  6. What is the length of contract and termination requirements you would sign if you affiliated with one of the three P.R.O.s?
  7. At what age can you start your own publishing company?

Ready to check your answers?

ANSWERS

  1. Preshiasmusic note 02What are the 6 exclusive rights bestowed upon the owner of a song’s copyright?

Here are the six exclusive rights, as defined by the U.S. Copyright Office:-

[i] To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords. ‘Phonorecord’ is a legal term for material objects produced through sound recording, such as a CD, vinyl record, audiotape, MP3, etc.

[ii] To prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work. You have the right to change it around if you wish. Add lyrics, make a new arrangement, change the chorus, etc.

[iii] To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. (Remember, you are not selling the SONG which is your intangible, intellectual property; you are selling the CD onto which a copy of the song has been recorded!)

[iv] In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly. So, as the songwriter, you have the right to perform your song at a public event such as onstage or at a writers’ night.

[v] In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly. As you might guess, this right refers mainly to painters, sculptors, photographers, who would want to display or show their creative work.

[vi] In the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission. If your song is in a digital file on your computer, you have the right to ‘perform’ it digitally.

Note that you, as the copyright holder, can monetize those rights by licensing the use of your music (for example to a record label or artist that wishes to record your song).

Preshiasmusic note 022. What should you do after you have written (or co-written) a song?

Here’s what you need to do:

[i] Type up the complete lyrics (do not simply type “repeat chorus,” etc) and add your name and your co-writers’ names (if any) to the bottom of the sheet.

[ii] Be sure to include all info for all of the song’s writers (example: Legal name, their P.R.O. and names of publishing company).

[iii] Start a file of typed lyrics sheets.

[iv] Make and print a hard copy for possible future pitches, performances and cuts.

[v] In your file, make note of contact info of all the writers.

Note: If you said “Register the copyright,” that isn’t usually necessary immediately after a song has been written. See Number 3, below.

  1. Preshiasmusic note 02True or false: A song has copyright as soon as you finish writing it.

True. The writer[s] of a song own the copyright as soon as it has been completed, but you should be sure to include the writer’s information on the lyric sheet as noted above.

When you are ready to register your copyright you can do so online at http://copyright.gov/ using their ‘e-copyright’ (eco) form, which is faster and less expensive than filing a hard copy by mail. A copyright registration is considered to be ‘effective’ when it is received by the U.S. Copyright office, subject to review. You’ll receive a mailed certificate several weeks later. Whereas registering your copyright is not essential or even necessary unless the song is going to be commercially recorded or performed in public, registration provides ‘prima facie’ evidence that you legally own the copyright in the event of a dispute or infringement.

  1. Preshiasmusic note 02Name the three Performing Rights Organizations (P.R.O.s) in the United States.

 Here are their names and websites:-

ASCAP  (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) http://www.ascap.com

BMI  (Broadcast Music, Inc.) http://www.bmi.com

SESAC (The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) http://www.sesac.com

  1. Preshiasmusic note 02What is a P.R.O. and why do you need to belong to one?

P.R.O. stands for Performing Rights Organization.  A P.R.O. acts an intermediary between copyright holders and parties that use copyrighted music works publicly. The key word there is publicly, because a P.R.O. is not involved in any legal consumer purchase of works such as buying a CD from a retail outlet, which confers private performance rights. When music is performed publicly, the P.R.O. collects income owed to songwriters and music publishers. Such public performances can include radio, television, clubs and restaurants.

As an individual songwriter, it would be impossible for you to track down and collect the royalties due to you from all the radio stations and TV broadcasts as well as from clubs and restaurants playing your songs. Your P.R.O. is set up to perform that task for you and retains a small percentage of each payment they receive. There is a lot more you need to know before deciding which, if any, of the P.R.O.s you should join. Visit each of their websites, listed above, and do your homework!

  1. Preshiasmusic note 02What is the length of contract and termination requirements you would sign if you affiliated with one of the three P.R.O.s?

Each of the three P.R.O.s has different regulations concerning the length of your contractual commitment and how you, as a writer and/or publisher, can terminate your affiliation.

ASCAP: The contract terms at ASCAP are identical for both writers and publishers and affiliates may resign at the end of any year of the contract upon three months written notice in advance.

BMI: A standard writer’s contract lasts for two years and a standard publisher’s contract is for five years, but some writers and publishers have been able to negotiate shorter-term contracts. The contracts continue to renew for two years (writers) and five years (publishers) if the termination date is missed. Notice of requested termination must be sent by registered or certified mail no sooner than six months and no later than 60 or 90 days prior to the end of the contract term.

SESAC: For both writers and publishers, contracts last for three years and auto-renew for 3-year periods. Contracts may be terminated in writing not more than six months and not less than three months prior to the contract’s scheduled ending.

Note that – unlike ASCAP and BMI – SESAC membership is essentially ‘by invitation only’ and their website states: ‘SESAC requires potential affiliates or their representatives to have a pre-existing relationship with a member of the Creative Services Department. At this time, SESAC is not taking unsolicited affiliation applications.’

  1. Preshiasmusic note 02At what age can you start your own publishing company?

Because you can write a song at any age, technically you are the ‘publisher’ of the song that you have written (unless you have signed with a publisher), even if you are seven years old.

However, that doesn’t mean you can legally start a commercial enterprise such as your own music publishing business if you are a minor. Running such a business will mean you’d be initiating and/or signing legal documents and that would require you to have reached ‘the age of majority’ which is the age when a person is considered to be an adult, and it may vary according to state laws. In most states, the age of majority is 18, but in Alabama, for instance, the age of majority is 19.

However, there are many highly talented songwriters who begin writing before the age of 18. In many cases, the writer’s parents start a publishing company in behalf of their child and assume the legal responsibilities, at least until the writer reaches the age of majority.

All three of the P.R.O.s mentioned above have very helpful information about starting and operating your own publishing company that you can investigate at their websites.

Knowledge is power

guitar and mic 02The answers above are just an overview and by no means definitive and complete. I encourage you to do your own research at reliable sources online. A good place to start would be the websites of the three P.R.O.s listed above, and also at the U.S. Copyright Office website where you can find several downloadable ‘circulars’ that are informative and easy to read and understand.

Knowledge is power: Increasing your knowledge of how the music industry works will build your confidence and help you to make informed decisions when opportunities are presented to you.

3 songwriters honored for FGL hits

Cole Taylor, Matt Dragstrem and Felix McTeigue

Three songwriters jointly celebrated their first Number Ones during an afternoon party at ASCAP’s Nashville HQ on May 25, thanks to TWO chart toppers scored by Florida Georgia Line.

Matt Dragstrem and Cole Taylor were recognized for their co-write credits on the cut, “Sippin’ On Fire,” that topped the charts for FGL. Felix McTeigue also scored his first Number One with another FGL hit, “Anything Goes,” co-written with veteran writers Craig Wiseman and Christ Tompkins. The three writers received plaques from ASCAP and awards from the CMA and Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB). Dragstrem, Taylor and McTeigue also received ASCAP-signature guitars, presented by Boulder Creek Guitars, in recognition of their first Number One hits.

Congrats to all three. I know we’ll see you back in the ‘winners’ circle’ before too long!