Kip Moore, songwriters celebrate No. 1

‘More Girls Like You’ lead single from ‘Slowheart’

(L to R): Steven Lee Olsen, David Garcia, Kip Moore, Josh Miller. Photo credit: Preshias Harris

MCA Nashville artist Kip Moore was at The Hutton Hotel’s Analog on Tuesday, February 13 to celebrate with fellow songwriters of his newest Number One, “More Girls Like You.” The party, co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI, honored the song’s four writers David Garcia, Josh Miller, Steven Lee Olsen and Moore.

“More Girls Like You” is the lead single from Kip’s third studio album, Slowheart, following 2012’s Up All Night and 2015’s Wild Ones.

Kip has undeniably paid his dues on his trek to stardom. He made his first public appearance singing at a Mellow Mushroom in Valdosta, GA, and moved to Nashville in 2004. He was signed to a songwriting deal with the help of producer/songwriter Brett James. It would be a further eight years before Kip was signed to a recording contract with MCA.

“There was no Plan B”

During the media session before the award presentation, I asked Kip what he did with his career during those long eight years to keep his eyes on the prize. With a smile, he said, “It was knowing I wasn’t going to be happy doing anything else.  There was no Plan B.” He admitted, however, “It was a battle to keep one foot in front of the other.”

(L to R): BMI’s Bradley Collins, songwriters Steven Lee Olsen, David Garcia and Josh Miller, Moore and ASCAP’s Evyn Mustoe. Photo credit: Ed Rode

The four writers reminisced about the way “More Girls Like You” came about. Steven Lee Olsen (whose first No. 1 as a writer was the Grammy-nominated “Blue Ain’t Your Color” for Keith Urban) noted that when the writers got together, “something magical” happened. “We started talking and that’s how it started.”

“It started falling together fast,” added Kip. “They knew where my head was, coming back from Cost Rica!”

“Kip almost didn’t show up,” said Josh. “He was headed to the lake for some wake boarding.”  We were reminded that Kip has a passion for the water, having been something of a ‘beach bum,’ surfing in Hawaii before making the commitment to come to Nashville.

Discussing tour plans, Kip said he is joining Luke Bryan on his ‘What Makes You Country’ Tour.  “Luke has always been a gracious and nice guy,” said Kip. “I’m looking forward to touring with Luke and the Cadillac Three.”

CMA Songwriters’ Series in Europe

Kip will soon be crossing the pond for concerts in Dublin Ireland, Glasgow Scotland and London England as part of the CMA Songwriters’ Series. He’ll be joining his old friend Brett James for the European dates, along with Luke Combs, Natalie Hemby and Nicolle Galyon.  In addition to a packed U.S. tour schedule, Kip also has 2018 shows booked in Canada and Australia.

Kip’s story of his arduous journey to the top is yet another reminder to aspiring artists and songwriters that there is no such thing as ‘overnight success.’   There will always be a battle to ‘put one foot in front of the other’ as he put it. For Kip, there was no Plan B.

For tour dates and more info on Kip Moore’s new album Slowheart, go to http://www.kipmoore.net

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Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, ‘The College of Songology 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need to Know Reference Handbook’ is available at www.collegeofsongology.com Follow her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com

Brett Young celebrates third No 1, “Like I Love You”

“We used our own money to cut the demo”

Jesse Lee and Brett Young answer questions before the No. 1 party. Photo: Preshias Harris

Big Machine Label Group’s Brett Young celebrated his third Number One at a party honoring him and co-writer Jesse Lee, Monday, February 12.  “Like I Love You” is his third chart-topper and comes just over a year since the release of his debut self-titled album.  The party was co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI.

Brett is one of only three acts in the Country music genre to achieve RIAA ‘Gold’ certification for an album released in 2017.  His breakout single, “In Case You Didn’t Know,” has already reached 3X Platinum status, making him the only debut artist since 2014 to achieve that level. He is also the only new Country artist with a 2017 song to go multi-Platinum, too. All three Number Ones are from his debut album.

Second No. 1 for Jesse Lee

Pictured (L-R): Scott Borchetta, BMI’s David Preston, Jesse Lee, Ole’s John Ozier, Brett Young, ASCAP’s Michael Martin, BMLG Records’ Jimmy Harnen and Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar. Photo Credit: Ed Rode

Co-writer Jesse Lee was celebrating her second No. 1 as writer, following 2016’s “Peter Pan,” a hit for Kelsea Ballerini.

“Like I Loved You” spent three weeks at Number One, but its release as a single was by no means a guarantee, following the success of Brett’s two previous hits.

“My first two singles were happy love songs,” said Brett at a pre-presentation media session. “Then Jesse and I wrote this one that is really different. My songs are like my babies. A part of me is attached to that song,” he noted. “I fought for getting this song on my record. We used our own money to cut the demo.”

Speaking about the writing session that resulted in “Like I Love You,” Brett said that this was a different kind of co-write, too. “We’d never met before.  We went to lunch then came back and wrote it. That was in late 2014.”

The long road to Nashville

Both Brett Young and Jesse Lee might seem like newcomers, but as with most successful people, that isn’t really the case. At the media session, Brett noted that he’d been playing and performing for 14 years before moving to Nashville.

Jesse Lee is not new to the music business either. Signed to Atlantic Nashville in 2007, Jesse had some minor chart success as a recording artist, but then took a different path.

‘I reinvented myself and started to write’

Jesse Lee

Speaking of her early career as an artist, she said, “People didn’t want me one the radio! So I reinvented myself and started to write.  Then I realized I was getting into publishing companies because of my writing not my artist talents.”

Reminded that Nashville is often referred to as a ‘ten-year town’ when it comes to developing a career in music, Jesse laughed and said, “it’s been more than a ten-year town for me. It’s been eleven!”

Speaking about the diversity of his musical styles and interests, Brett said, “I grew up with rhythm and blues and soul music, so You will hear the soul in my music.”

Brett is about to head out on Thomas Rhett’s ‘Life Changes Tour 2018’ this spring.  Find tour updates at brettyoungmusic.com.

“it’s been more than a ten-year town for me. It’s been eleven!” Jesse Lee

Six songwriters honored at Number One party

Dan + Shay celebrate two consecutive Number Ones 

What’s better than a Number One party? A DOUBLE Number One party, and that’s what happened Tuesday January 30th for writers of two of Dan + Shay’s recent chart-toppers.  The double-header, co-hosted by ASCAP and BMI, was held at ASCAP’s Nashville HQ.

“From the Ground Up” and “How Not To” are the second and third U.S. Country Airplay chart toppers for Warner Bros. Nashville artists Dan + Shay (Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney) following 2015’s “Nothing Like You,” a cut from the album WHERE IT ALL BEGAN.  The two latest Number Ones are both cuts on OBSESSED.

The honorees for “How Not To” were songwriters Kevin Bard, Paul DiGiovanni and Adam Hambrick. Publishing honors went to Kevin Bard Music, Ole Red Cape Songs, Paulywood Music, Sony ATV Music Publishing, Red Like The Sunset Music and Universal Music.

Accepting songwriters’ awards for “From the Ground Up” were Chris DeStafano, Shay Mooney and Dan Smyers, while the publishers’ nod went to Beats and Banjos, CDS Words & Music, Shay Mooney Music, Sony ATV Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing.

Inspired by grandparents’ long-lasting love

From left: Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney, Chris DeStafano talk during media session. Photo: Preshias Harris

At a pre-presentation media session, Dan, Shay and Chris talked about the origins of “From the Ground Up.” The idea was sparked by a very personal incident. “Driving back from my grandfather’s funeral, we ended up at [Chris] Stefano’s place,” said Dan.  “When Chris stepped outside to take a call, [Shay and I] started talking about how both our grandparents were married for 65 years. it so incredible to married for 65 Years!” It was from that discussion and family memories that the song took shape. “We knew we had something special and it was written in about 45 Minutes,” Dan added.

‘Personal moments’ shape songs

Personal life moments are often the genesis for songs, as Dan and Shay can attest. During the media session, they recalled writing “When I Prayed For You.” The song, about a soon-to-be-father praying for his child, was featured in the movie, “The Shack.”  Shay noted that it was written when he and his wife Hannah were expecting their daughter, Asher. Anticipating the birth of a child in real life added poignancy to the writing, Shay recalled.

Getting back to “From the Ground Up,” Chris DeStefano said, “It’s amazing to me to be part of a song that fans can connect with.” Chris is no stranger to chart toppers, having written or co-written Number One songs for Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, Jason Aldean and more. “I won’t ever take it for granted, being a songwriter,” he said.

Wexford, Pennsylvania, native Dan Smyers and James Shay Mooney (from Natural Dam, Arkansas) met in Nashville in December 2012 and began songwriting together. They were quickly signed to Warner/Chappell Music. The following year, their first single – “19 You + Me” – went to Country radio.  Although it never topped any chart, the song continued to sell steadily since then and has since been certified Platinum by RIAA.

Pictured (l-r): Songwriters Chris DeStefano, Paul DiGiovanni, Kevin Bard, Adam Hambrick and Dan+Shay’s Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. Photo: Ed Rode/ASCAP

On the road with Rascal Flatts

Continue reading “Six songwriters honored at Number One party”

Sign the Petition and Ask Congress to Pass the Music Modernization Act

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION

For too long, songwriters have had to work within an outdated system that over-regulates and undervalues their music. The Music Modernization Act of 2017 will help change that.

[Note: the text of this post is reproduced from an email sent out to ASCAP members. You do not have to be an ASCAP member to respond to this request that is supported by all Performing Rights Organizations and other entities involving songwriters and music publishers. You can find the original message here.]

Improved compensation for music creators

ASCAP has long advocated for a more flexible framework that can adapt to the realities of the modern music marketplace. The Music Modernization Act is a bipartisan music reform bill that represents months of compromise and collaboration between stakeholders from the music and tech sectors.

It includes provisions that we hope will ultimately result in compensation for our members that better reflects the true value of your music:

  • Rate court reform: replacing a single rate court judge for each PRO with different judges randomly assigned to each rate-setting proceeding (the “wheel” system)
  • Removal of Section 114(i) of the Copyright Act: allowing a rate court to consider all relevant evidence when determining songwriter compensation – including the rates that recording artists earn – an ability that is currently prohibited by law.

The Music Modernization Act of 2017 also includes provisions to reform Section 115 of the Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that will administer the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions like those used in interactive streaming models. This replaces the “bulk NOI” process that often failed to result in payments to songwriters and music publishers with a system that will enable digital music services to find the owners of the music they use.

While no legislation will solve all of our industry challenges, on balance we believe this is a significant step forward for all music creators.

You can help now. Ask Congress to pass the Music Modernization Act today. Click here to sign ASCAP petition.

If you are a member of BMI or SESAC and have received notification from them about a petition regarding the Music Modernization Act of 2017, you are of course welcome to respond to their communication.

Songwriter news roundup

Vital issues affect creators’ rights

December is often a quiet time around the music industry, but this year there are a number of news items that can affect the lives of songwriters and recording artists.  Here are some you might want to check out.

BMI Songwriters Win 100% Licensing Ruling

On December 19, NSAI posted the following news bulletin: Today the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals put the issue of 100% licensing to rest by affirming an earlier ruling by BMI rate court Judge Louis Stanton.

“The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) is thrilled and relieved that BMI songwriters no longer have to be concerned about the U.S. Department of Justice’s misguided ruling on 100% licensing,” said NSAI President Steve Bogard.  “We congratulate BMI CEO Mike O’Neil and his team on this important victory and hope the DOJ now releases ASCAP from their ruling that was delivered in 2016.  The time has come to discuss sun-setting or updating the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees so that songwriters can earn fair performance royalty rates from streaming services.”

More about NSAI at http://www.nashvillesongwriters.com/

HAAWK –that tracks revenue for rights holders – buys Royalty Claim and TuneRegistry

From a report at Billboard.com: HAAWK, a rights management and content monetization firm started by Ad-Rev co-founder Ryan Born, has acquired RoyaltyClaim and TuneRegistry. Terms of the deal were not disclosed although Haawk had previously raised $2.5 million in seed venture capital from Rincon Venture Partners.

Prior to this current acquisition, HAAWK bought certain assets from Dart Music, which specialized in cleaning up music rights metadata, among other rights management services. That company filed for bankruptcy last summer and its assets were sold in separate deals to HAAWK and Core Rights LLC this fall.  Continue reading the Billboard story here.

Songwriters: Support H.R. 3945, a bill to create a Small Claims Court

An email sent out by The Copyright Alliance urges creators (including songwriters) to support a bill in Congress that would establish a way for individuals to fight infringement of their rights. The text of the email reads:

Join the copyright community in asking your Congressional Representative to cosponsor H.R. 3945, the CASE Act of 2017, a bill that would create a copyright small claims court for creators and small businesses (It’s quick and easy to do!)

For many photographers, illustrators, authors, songwriters and other creators who own copyrighted works, enforcing their rights is not feasible. Litigation is expensive and many creators simply can’t afford it. In effect, the U.S. copyright system currently provides creators with rights but no effective remedies.

Continue reading the Copyright Alliance story here.

Rascal Flatts celebrate 17th Number One

“Yours If You Want It” latest chart topper

(L to R) Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney at the Number One party. Photo: Preshias Harris

Rascal Flatts chalked up their seventeenth Number One. Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney were on hand to celebrate at a party hosted by BMI in Nashville, Thursday, August 17.

“Yours If You Want It” made it to the top of Billboard and Country Aircheck/Mediabase Country Airplay charts. Adding to the trio’s kudos, the song marked their second back-to-back chart-topper, following their summer anthem, “I Like The Sound of That.”

‘Bittersweet’ celebration

“Yours If You Want It” was written by Jonathan Singleton and Andrew Dorff.  It was a bittersweet celebration as Dorff sadly passed away at the age of 40 last December.  The song was released to radio the following month and members of Rascal Flatts felt a sense of determination to give Dorff a posthumous Number One.  Dorf had previously co-written hits for Kenny Chesney (“Save It For A Rainy Day”) and Blake Shelton (“Neon Light”) and others.

In an earlier statement, Joe DeMarcus told Rolling Stone, “We’ve been working really hard and we’re very proud of this track and what’s more, the late Andrew Dorff is a writer on it, and we are so honored to be a small part of making sure his legacy lives on. We have a special angel watching over it, for sure.”

At the Number One party, Joe Don Rooney described the song as “Incredible, first and foremost.” He added, “There’s a very powerful story behind the song. Everything that Rascal Flatts is about is in that song.”

Gary Le Vox agreed, adding, “The lyrics and the story are amazing.”

Rascal Flatts also announced that their new single, “Back To Us,” will impact Country radio Monday, August 21. The song, co-written by Cary Barlowe, David Hodges and Josh Thompson, is the title track from the trio’s tenth studio album, BACK TO US.

Las Vegas residency in October

Rascal Flatts are gearing up to headline a limited Las Vegas residency. Titled ‘Night To Shine,’ the show, presented by SiriusXM, will take over the Venetian Theatre at The Venetian, October 6 – 21.  Check ticket availability for the Venetian shows here.

At the Number One party, a smiling Gary LeVox said, “We’re really looking forward to the Venetian residency.” The trio has been touring almost non-stop, racking up more than ten million tickets sold. The Las Vegas residency will give them a well-earned opportunity to stay in one place, if only for a few weeks.

As the best-selling country vocal group of the past decade, Rascal Flatts has sold over 23.4 million albums, over 33.7 million digital downloads worldwide, as well as earning over 40 trophies from the ACA, ACM, AMA, CMA, People’s Choice and more.

Read more at Rascal Flatts’ website.

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”

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.