Michael Ray helping animals in need

Collects animal shelter donations on 15-stop trek

Michael Ray with adopted dog Wrigley. Credit: Courtesy PAWS Chicago

I already knew Michael Ray was a great guy but he’s gone up even higher in my estimation as he proves how much he cares about animals that need a helping hand.

Inspired by his rescue dog Wrigley, Michael Ray has launched a special initiative, Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need, just as he sets out on his “Get To You” Tour. The Gold-selling artist, whose latest single “Get To You” is currently climbing the charts, will collect donations with help from Zappos For Good and local animal shelters.

Wrigley Cares: Helping Animals In Need kicked off as Ray took the stage for the tour’s opening night in Tuscaloosa, AL. Since adopting Wrigley earlier this summer at Chicago’s Country Lakeshake Fest, Ray has been searching for impactful ways he and his fans can give back to rescued animals. Wrigley came to Michael from Paws Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter.

Changing lives of shelter dogs

“Wrigley is a huge part of my life – she’s on the road with us and she’s there for all the major moments,” shared Ray. “She changed my life back in June and I’m hoping we can change the lives of other shelter dogs by lending a helping hand.”

The Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville recording artist logged thousands of miles in 2017 and will wrap the year with his second headline tour. Already achieving two No. 1 singles, Ray’s anticipated lead single “Get To You” notched the most-added on the country airplay charts upon release and previews his forthcoming sophomore album.

Helping local shelters

Zappos for Good, the charity team at Zappos.com, will amplify Wrigley Cares by identifying local shelters in need and setting up donation stations at each tour stop. Concert attendees can drop supplies at the donation stations and receive a special discount code redeemable on Ray merchandise. All donations are welcome and each local shelter is specifically looking for: dry/wet dog and cat food in addition to new/slightly used towels and blankets which will be used to line shelter crates.

“We’re thrilled to work with Michael Ray and team to help support animal rescue,” said Steven Bautista, Head of Charity for Zappos.com. “We’re passionate about animal welfare and see this adoption event as an extension of our core, which is customer service.”

You can find out more about Michael Ray (and Wrigley!) and check out his full tour schedule here.

Midland’s debut single tops Airplay chart

“Drinkin’ Problem” first Number One for Midland

It was a five-man Number One party Wednesday afternoon: the three members of Midland and their two co-writers, jointly hosted by ASCAP and BMI.

Members of Midland at the Number One party, flanked by Shane McAnally (far left) and Josh Osborne (right). Photo credit: Preshias Harris.

They gathered with friends and music industry execs at The Sutler in Nashville to celebrate the band’s debut single which is also their first career Number One single. Titled “Drinkin’ Problem,” the track was originally issued on an EP and is now the lead-off single from their new album, ON THE ROCKS, released September 22.

“Drinkin’ Problem” was written by the three members of Midland, Mark Wystrach (lead vocals), Jess Carson (lead guitar & harmony vocals) and Cameron Duddy (bass & harmony vocals).  They share writing credits on the Number One with superstar writers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne. (Osborne has fourteen Number Ones as a writer; McAnally has twenty-five Number Ones as a writer and eight as a producer!)

“Drinkin’ Problem” was produced by Osborne, McAnally and Dan Huff.

A ‘first’ for Big Machine, too

Notably, the song also scores another ‘First.’ It is the first debut single from a new act to top the Airplay charts for Big Machine Records and their roster of artists.

Commenting on how the song came about, Jess Carson said, “Three friends going in, all together. That was a lightning-rod moment.”

During the celebration, Huff said to Mark, Jeff and Cameron, “The fact that you have a very clear understanding of who you are makes me so proud to be part of this team.”

Co-producer Osborne said, “[We believed] somebody is gonna make this record with them and if we don’t, we are going to regret it.” He added, “The label allowed all involved to chase their passion.”

“This is soul music,” said McAnally. “I’m serious — it’s has a soul!”  He added, “Because it was embraced in a commercial sense, it’s wonderful. They didn’t have to compromise.making music. People are hungry for it.”

In addition to “Drinkin’ Problem,” ON THE ROCKS includes twelve more tracks, all written or co-written by members of Midland. The trio all hail from the town of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Midland’s follow-up single, “Make A Little,” is already impacting Country radio. On the CDXTRACtion chart for October 11, 2017, the new single was the “Most Added” song of the week, meaning it was added to the playlist of the most reporting radio stations.  You can find the video for “Make A Little” at YouTube here.

Midland are currently touring as part of the ‘CMT On Tour Presents Jon Pardi’s Lucky Tonight Tour’ (Surely this year’s most awkwardly-titled tour) and in early 2018 are scheduled to be part of The Breakers Tour with Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves. See Midland’s full tour schedule here.

Logan Mize inspires singers, songwriters: Never give up

New video series: “Somebody to Thank”

If you’re a singer or songwriter and thinking that you should forget your dream and go get a ‘real’ job, take heart from Logan Mize’s story.

Click to watch Logan Mize’s new “Somebody to Thank” video

His new album, COME BACK ROAD, notched up a Top 20 debut on Billboard and iTunes’ All Genre charts, but his personal road has not been an easy one, filled with roadblocks that would have stymied lesser beings.

Logan, a native of Clearwater, Kansas, came to Nashville with the goal of becoming a success in the music business.  But that success seemed to slip from his grasp at every step of the journey. He was turned down again and again by every music publisher and record label on Music Row.

Logan Mize. Photo: Montgomery Lee

To make ends meet, he took on day jobs, including driving a party bus and even a dump truck, while writing songs and playing club dates wherever he could snag them. Then in 2010, several years after arriving in Nashville, he signed a publishing and record deal with Big Yellow Dog Music, and a booking deal with a major agency.

Many artists would look at those contracts and figure they’d achieved their goal, but Logan knew that this was only the beginning. He spent the next seven years playing seemingly every venue in every town across the United States, building his fan base at every stop along the way.

Use the power of social media

Logan understands the power of social media. In 2016, he undertook a solo acoustic tour, promoted entirely via social media, traveling more than 20,000 miles in less than two months in a 1989 station wagon that he named ‘Glenn.’

He ran his own sound and lights at each show, performing 3-hour sets, before packing everything back in the car and moving on to the next venue.  He knew that every stop along the way added to his fan base, and each fan was a potential buyer of his music and would probably spread the news to their own social media contacts.

Thankful to those who have helped

As well as knowing the importance of sheer hard work in developing his music career, Logan is also deeply thankful to those who have helped him along the way. He has now partnered with Budweiser to create a new monthly video series based around his song, “Somebody to Thank.”

“It is so important that we always remember and give thanks to those who helped us get to where we are,” he said. “Even the smallest gesture of gratitude can make a big difference in someone’s life.”

A new video will be released monthly via Logan’s YouTube channel and Facebook spotlighting the relationships built around the struggles, gratitude and opportunities that have helped shape Mize into who he is as a person, artist, husband and father. He hopes it will also remind everyone to always say thank you to those who were a part of one’s journey.

Persevere despite the setbacks

There are two lessons that can be learned from Logan’s story. Firstly, if you believe in your music, persevere. Keep going, despite the setbacks and treat each roadblock as a ‘learning experience’ while you steadfastly follow your dream.  It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Secondly, take charge of your own destiny.  Don’t put your career entirely in the hands of others. Certainly, seek guidance and develop business alliances with those who can help you, but understand that only you can make the decisions and take the steps to achieve your goals.

COME BACK ROAD includes the hit single “Ain’t Always Pretty” which has been featured on major playlists across digital streaming platforms garnering over 25 million streams on Spotify alone.

More information at loganmize.com and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

‘Bump, Bump, Bump’ hits country radio

Song shows lost love can lead to freedom

Re Mattei is a particularly unique talent that stands out even in a city that is filled with unique talents. If any proof of that is needed, give a listen to Re’s new single, “Bump, Bump, Bump,” hitting country radio on September 18, 2017.  Meanwhile, the track will be available via all major digital retail and streaming outlets (Amazon/iTunes/ Pandora/Rhapsody/Spotify) on Sept 15.

The single is a taste of what’s to come with her album, BELIEVIN’ IS SEEIN,’ due out in the early spring of 2018.  It will be released on TrendyGirl Records, for whom Re is their flagship artist.

I’ve known Re for several years now, as a friend and – full disclosure – as a client, while we worked together to move her career forward.  I’ve seen her songwriting and her stagecraft develop to the point where she’s a star in the making.

Re wrote the “back-in-the-swing” tune with Danielle Todd and co-produced the track alongside Bartley Pursley (who has also produced notable, award-winning artists such as Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson and Liz Carlisle, and has engineered projects for Blake Shelton and Montgomery Gentry).

Re Mattei

The song’s storyline transforms the darkness of love-loss and heartache to an illuminated freedom. Re’s musical influences include the traditional country of artists such as Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Johnny Rodriguez, but also gravitate toward 80s pop rock trendsetters, eerie steel and electric guitar riffs. She brings those influences together in this song (as I said, she’s unique) setting the tone for this ‘failed love’ story, while the chorus brings to life a revived spirit portrayed by a powerful bass drum.

“Of all things, a Budweiser truck on the roadway reminded me that music has been my medicine,” said Re. “I recalled heading downtown with a group of girlfriends after a hurtful breakup and getting lost in the beats of my favorite tunes—what I call the ‘bump.’ Music can make people feel alive even in the darkest of moments; ‘Bump…’ paints both a gray emotional intensity contrasted by an enlightenment and glimpse of hope. …and that’s the magic of music.”

Inspiration can come from the strangest places: for Re it was the rhythmic rumble of a beer truck!

Berklee College of Music grad

Re (derived from her birth name Marie) is a Berklee College of Music graduate; she earned her bachelor’s degree in guitar performance. The New Jersey native began her pursuit in the live music entertainment sector just weeks before graduation.  Responding to a personal, hand-written invitation, Re auditioned for the all-female, Top 40, seven-piece band—the Uptown Girls. She landed the guitar-player/vocal gig on the spot and toured with the group in a three-year stint performing at nightclubs and military bases in Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and Hawaii.

Left to Right: Shane Allen, Re Mattei and Simba Jordan. Photo credit: Preshias Harris

Re moved to Music City in the early 90s with the goal of concentrating on her songwriting and recording skills to ultimately launch her independent solo career. She has performed at the Bluebird Café, Opryland Hotel and the Tennessee State Fair (WSM-AM stage) and, most-recently, Re made an impromptu appearance at NAMM 2017 (Nashville).  Teaming with producer Bart Pursley, she recorded and released her debut single, “Country Love,” in 2014.

‘Bump, Bump, Bump’ music video

In conjunction with the September 2017 country radio release, Mattei will introduce the corresponding “Bump Bump Bump” music video (created by Think House Productions/filmed in Columbia, TN and at The Country in downtown Nashville). You can find the video here on YouTube, among other places. Re will embark on her four-week radio tour beginning October 16, 2017.  Grassroots Promotion will spearhead the radio promotion campaign; Visual Image Marketing (Steve Baker) will oversee the video promotion.

In my opinion, success is on its way for Re Mattei. Yes, she has the talent, but equally important, she has the determination to find and hold that success.  I truly believe that music is part of her soul. Listen to “Bump, Bump, Bump,” watch the song’s music video and see if you agree.

Follow Re Mattie on Facebook here.

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Country’s ‘Gentle Giant’ passes

Don Williams, May 27, 1939 – September 8, 2017

The world of country music will miss Don Williams. I know I will.

Don Williams. Photo: don-williams.com

His unique voice, both deep and mellow; his endearing smile and winning personality; even his ‘scrunched-up’ signature hat, so different from the pristine Stetsons worn by many of his contemporaries.

Don truly was the ‘Gentle Giant’ who gave us seventeen Number One country chart toppers, along with many other hits and numerous albums. His style was so distinctive because, in a way, his subtle, laid-back delivery differed from most of the sounds coming out of Music City back in the 70s.

Signed by ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement

Although the Floydada, Texas, native had been singing and playing throughout his childhood and teenage years – allegedly winning an alarm clock in a talent contest at the age of three – his break came when he moved to Nashville and secured a songwriting deal with legendary music publisher and songwriter ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement. Clement later signed Williams to a recording contract and the chart hits began with “The Shelter of Your Eyes.”

His first Number One was 1974’s “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me,” and from that date through 1991, every one of his singles would make the Billboard Country Top 40 chart. He became an international star: he was popular in England at a time when most radio listeners could only name Jim Reeves and Dolly Parton as country artists.  Hits such as “Tulsa Time,” “It Must Be Love” and “She Never Knew Me” established him as a consistent presence on stage and on the radio. However, Williams’ popularity also got him cast on the big screen in “W.W. and The Dixie Dancekings” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.”

“I Believe In You”

His most memorable – and most iconic – song was recorded in 1980: “I Believe in You.”  His eleventh Number One on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, it was also a crossover hit peaking at number 24 in Billboard’s pop charts. To this day, it has remained a well-loved romantic ballad, popular across succeeding generations. The song was written by Roger Cook and Sam Hogin.  Whenever I see Roger performing at Writers’ Nights around Nashville, he only has to sing: “I don’t believe in…” for the crowd to start cheering, whistling and applauding before he even finishes the first line.  (On a sidebar, Roger was a popular recording artist in his own right back in his native England. His voice has matured to become similar to Don’s and I’m guessing Roger sang the demo that Don and his A&R team recognized immediately as hit material for Don.)

Don continued to be a major crowd-pleaser, touring and performing for sell-out crowds, even after radio programmers had decided to no longer put his songs in the ‘add’ column. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.  His final performance was in 2016. He said, “It’s time to hang up my hat and enjoy some quiet time at home.”  Don passed away September 8, 2017 in Mobile, Alabama.

More about Don at his official website.

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Induction ceremony set for October 23

Four of Nashville’s finest will receive one of the music industry’s most coveted honors: induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The class of 2017 consists of Jim McBride, Walt Aldridge, Tim Nichols and the late Vern Gosdin.

Pictured (l-r) are: Pat Alger, Buddy Cannon (representing the late Vern Gosdin), Jim McBride, Tim Nichols, Walt Aldridge and Mark Ford, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy: Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame)

The announcement was made at a news conference on August 9 by Pat Alger, chair of the organization’s board of directors. The induction ceremony will take place on October 23 at the Music City Center.

As in previous years, there are several categories for the new inductees. Aldridge and Nichols will be inducted in the Songwriters category, McBride is the inductee in the Veterans category, and Gosdin will be honored in the Songwriter/Artist category.

Walt Aldridge

Walt Aldridge

Walt Adridge has written hit songs for artists such as Ronnie Milsap (“There’s No Getting Over Me”), Earl Thomas Conley (“Holding Her and Loving You”) and Conway Twitty (“She’s Got a Single Thing In Mind”). Florence, AL, native Aldridge was also an integral part of the Muscle Shoals music scene, working at the aptly named Fame Studios.

Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols wrote “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore” for Jo Dee Messina, “I’m Over You” for Keith Whitley and “Cowboys and Angels for Dustin Lynch. One of his biggest hits was his 2004 song for Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying,” co-written with Craig Wiseman. That song won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song at the 47th Grammy Awards and was the ACM ‘Song of the Year.’

Jim McBride

Jim McBride

Jim McBride, the honoree in the Veteran category, has had a long career as a songwriter, having written his first song when he was twelve. Success eluded him until he moved from Huntsville, AL, to Nashville and began to get cuts including “A Bridge That Just Won’t Burn” for Conway Twitty. The song won McBride’s first BMI Award along with co-writer Roger Murrah. Other McBride hits include “Chattahoochie” for Alan Jackson and songs cut by John Anderson, Waylon Jennings and many more.

Vern Gosdin

Vern Gosdin

Vern Gosdin racked up nineteen Top-Ten Country chart hits between 1977 and 1990, including three Number Ones: “I Can Tell By the Way You Dance,” “Set ‘Em Up Joe” (a tribute to Ernest Tubb), and “I’m Still Crazy.” He faced several setbacks including signing with record labels that either shut down or went bankrupt. He almost left the music business entirely in the 1970s, operating a glass company in Cartersville, GA, before being coaxed back and creating a string of hits including 1983’s “Tennessee Courage,” a song Gosdin co-wrote with Louis Brown and Max D. Barnes.  Known to his many fans as ‘The Voice,’ Vern Gosdin passed away following a stroke in April 2009.

The Hall of Fame

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and preserving the songwriting legacy that is uniquely associated with the Nashville music community. Its purpose is to educate, celebrate and archive the achievements and contributions made by members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame to the world.  The class of 2017 will join be joining the 203 members previously inducted in the NSHoF.

Read more about the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and see photos and info about all the inductees here.

Triple Number One party for Aldean and songwriters

Celebrating three Number Ones from latest album

It was a songwriters’ night with a difference: each of the featured writers on stage was a co-writer of a Number One hit for Jason Aldean from his album, THEY DON’T KNOW. The event also marked some ‘firsts’ for some of the writers.

First row (L to R): Deric Ruttan, Brian Kelly, Tyler Hubbard, Jason Aldean, Josh Thompson, Michael Knox / Second Row (L to R): Wendell Mobley, Jimmy Robbins, Tony Martin, Brad Martin, Jordan Schmidt, Jerry Flowers, Brett Warren
Photo Credit: Steve Lowry

Two-time and reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year Jason Aldean took over Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon August 2nd to celebrate each single off his seventh studio album THEY DON’T KNOW reaching No. One. Marking 19 career chart-toppers, Aldean gathered alongside friends and family to perform “Lights Come On,” “A Little More Summertime” and “Any Ol’ Barstool” with each of the tracks’ songwriters. For the event, fans were invited to Lower Broadway’s famed venue, which is the same place Aldean played the showcase that landed him his record deal with Broken Bow Records.

Lights Come On

Serving as the lead single and No. One hit from THEY DON’T KNOW, Jason Aldean performed the smash hit “Lights Come On,” sharing vocals with songwriters Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley (BMI) and Tyler Hubbard (BMI), as well as Jimmy Robbins (ASCAP), Jordan Schmidt (ASCAP), Brad Warren (BMI) and Brett Warren (BMI). The hit serves as Schmidt’s first No. One as a songwriter as well as the first for Kelley and Hubbard’s Tree Vibez Music publishing company.

A Little More Summertime

Following suit, Aldean was joined on stage by songwriters Jerry Flowers (ASCAP), Tony Martin (BMI) and Wendell Mobley (BMI) to perform a stripped-down version of THEY DON’T KNOW’s second No. One single, “A Little More Summertime.”

Any Ol’ Barstool

To close out the round, Aldean invited Deric Ruttan (ASCAP) and Josh Thompson (BMI) to the stage who serve as the songwriters behind his “Any Ol’ Barstool.” It is the third consecutive chart topper off his seventh studio album. Aldean’s 19th career No. One serves as Thompson’s first No. One as a songwriter.

Aldean’s most recent album, THEY DON’T KNOW, follows each album release earning PLATINUM certification or better, tallying more than 15 million total album sales and 19 No. One hits. The longevity of his career reached new heights as he debuted at the No. One position on Billboard’s all-genre Top 200 Album chart for the third consecutive time. In addition to his THEY DON’T KNOW TOUR, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is showcasing a special exhibit titled  ‘Jason Aldean: Asphalt Cowboy,’ commemorating his wide-open sound that has been one of the defining influences on today’s Country Music. For more information and for a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit www.jasonaldean.com.

Information provided by the Green Room, Nashville.

Hit songwriters kick off ’30 Days of Hope’ at 3rd & Lindsley

Hope Nation Radio concert to support families of children with cancer

Songwriters can always be relied upon to step up and offer their time and talent when the call for help goes out.  I can attest to that from personal experience!  And now, some of Nashville’s finest singer/songwriters are joining with Hope Nation Radio to kick off their 8th annual ’30 Days of Hope’ campaign.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Hope Nation Radio will host a fundraiser at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville on Wednesday September 6, 2017. Doors open at 6:00 pm and the show starts at 7:00 pm. The show will benefit the Live4Tay Foundation. Proceeds raised this night will go directly to the foundation to support families of children with cancer.

And just look who is on the bill! You’ve gotta see this one!

All-Star singer/songwriter lineup

The all-star lineup will feature acoustic performances from Brady Seals (formerly of Little Texas, “God Blessed Texas”), Buddy Jewell (Nashville Star winner), Gordon Kennedy (multi-Grammy winner), John Berry (with 20+ hit singles), Keith Anderson (hit songwriter for Big & Rich, Garth Brooks and George Jones), Paul Jefferson (with hits for Aaron Tippin, Keith Urban, etc), and Sonny Lemaire (formerly of Exile “Kiss You All Over” + 9 Number Ones).

Tickets are $15 online at www.3rdandlindsley.com or $20 at the door. Kids 12 and under get in FREE.

About Live4Tay Foundation: The foundation financially supports families who have children with cancer by raising money and awareness through benevolent fundraising events. They have helped 110 families in Tennessee and raised around $200k for local families. They also assist other organizations in financing research for preventing and curing cancer, especially in children. Find out more about the live4Tay Foundation here.

About Hope Nation Radio: Formed in 2013 by Nile “Big Daddy” Peaytt and Thomas Hammonds, this station plays a variety of country music, pop, rock, contemporary, Christian and gospel from signed and independent artists. This is a station anyone can listen to, including the children in the hospital; whether it be for a lengthy stay or to help pass the time while getting treatments. Visit their website here and follow them on all social media @HopeNationRadio.

Who owns the songs you write?

What you must do to ensure you receive your share of the song’s royalties.

Rule Number One: Be sure you don’t leave the writers’ room without noting each co-writer’s contact info, publishing info, percentage split and P.R.O. affiliation.

Rule Number Two: Only people actively involved in writing the song should be present in the writers’ room.

Let’s see why those rules are so important to you, the songwriter.

You’ve just written a new song and you feel pretty certain that it has real ‘hit’ potential, if it gets cut by the right act. In fact, the song is a co-write: you co-wrote it with John and Mary during a two-hour session in a writing room.  At some point – maybe not right away – but at some point, you are going to get the song lyrics typed up in the correct format and submit it to the US Copyright Office using the online electronic (eCO) system.

You’ll also register the song with your P.R.O. because that is how you will earn royalties when the song gets cut. As there are three writers, it is possible that it will be registered with as many as three P.R.O.s: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. (See note at the end of this article for links to song registration info for each of the three P.R.O.s.)

But wait a minute.

Who actually owns the copyright to the song the three of you have just written?  More importantly, what percentage of the royalties generated by the song does each of you own? What is your ‘split’?  Maybe it doesn’t seem important right now because if the song never gets cut, then a hundred percent of nothing is still nothing.  But what if your hunch was right and the song does have hit potential?  What if the song is a Number One hit single and then gets added to a multi-platinum ‘Greatest Hits’ album and also scores millions of downloads?  Now the writers’ split issue gets very important indeed!

As a general rule, if you agree to a co-write, it’s understood that each of the ‘collaborators’ (to use the legal description) is entitled to an equal split of the writers’ share of the royalties generated by the song. (We’ll get to the Song Publishers’ split in a minute.)

More than once, I’ve heard a songwriter emerge from a writing session and mutter that “[name] didn’t contribute anything” to the co-write. But an entire song might have been spawned by a single line – maybe three of four words – that one writer brought to the table.

A single line can spawn a hit song

That’s exactly what happened when Jerry Butler and Otis Redding got together after performing in a show in Chicago in the mid 1960s.  They talked about writing a song together and Butler said he had a line going around in his head: “I’ve been loving you too long to stop now.”  They didn’t take it any further that night, but Redding returned to Memphis and fleshed out the song from that one line. He recorded the song as a soulful ballad, with that line as the song title.  It sold millions of copies, making it the second biggest seller of Otis Redding’s career.

The only line Jerry Butler contributed was the one that became the song’s title, but without that, the song wouldn’t exist. (As a side note, early copies of the single only list Redding as the writer, something that was rectified after Butler pointed out the error!)

Keep it ‘writers only’ in the writers’ room!

It is advisable to have an agreement before you start any writing session as to what the split will be, if there is to be anything other than an equal split. Again, unless you specify otherwise, in writing, everyone in the writing session gets equal writing credit regardless of each individual’s participation. And that is a very good reason to consider your writing session a ‘closed door’ affair.  That means not letting anyone just ‘hang out’ with you and your co-writers unless you consider them to be actively involved in the creative process. Anyone present in the writers’ room could be entitled to get a writer’s credit!

Case in point: Infamous song producer Phil Spector managed to insinuate himself into early writing-recording sessions where songs were composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. As he was there when some songs were written, he gets writer’s credit.  Okay, so it’s unlikely that Phil Spector will crash your writing session (you’d better hope not) but if someone is in the room when you are writing, there’s a strong chance you will find yourself including them in the credit.  And splitting the $$$ with them, if the song gets cut.

What about the song publishers?

Up to now, we’ve talked about the writers’ splits.  But each song gets published and traditionally, the publisher retains half of the revenue from the song.  If you write alone and own your own publishing company, it’s simple: you own the publisher’s 50% AND the writer’s 50%.  If you co-write with one other person and she owns her own publishing, the two publishing companies equally split the publishers’ 50% and the two writers split the writers’ 50% of the total revenue.  The more writers and the more publishing companies, the thinner the slices of the revenue pie become. (I go into more detail about song publishing in my book, “The College of Songology 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s Need To Know Reference Handbook.”  See the note at the end of this article.)

If anything, that situation makes it even more vital that you have an agreement before you write as to whether you all agree to an equal split or not. There could be instances when one writer agrees to take less than an equal split: for example, a novice writer co-writing with a major hit writer, mainly for the experience he or she gains from the session.  But in a case like that – where there will be an unequal split of the writers’ credit – it is essential that the percentage split is clearly spelled out in writing. Never assume that the other collaborator ‘understood’ that would be the case.

Specify the split on the P.R.O. song registration

When you submit your song registration form to your P.R.O. you will see a space where you specify the percentage of the royalty – the split – that each writer is entitled to. You’ll make a similar entry regarding the publishing split.  As there’s a possibility that you and your co-writers are affiliated with different P.R.O.s, it is essential that you agree on the split before the song is registered because the split info must be the same on each P.R.O.s registry.

When it comes to registering the song with P.R.O.s, if two or more writers are affiliated with the same P.R.O. it is important that the song is registered only ONCE with that P.R.O.  For example, if you and John are affiliated with ASCAP and Mary is with BMI, the song you wrote together would be registered once with ASCAP (because you and John are both with ASCAP) and once with BMI. If you and John both submitted the same song to ASCAP, there would be confusion over duplication of writer and publisher. Both you and John receive writer’s credit even though only one of you registered the song with your P.R.O.

The takeaway is this: The writers’ credit is split equally between all the collaborators who created the work, regardless of each collaborator’s actual contribution, unless there is a prior agreement that there will be an uneven split. As the registration with your P.R.O. will include this vital information, be sure all writers are in agreement about the split!

Notes: Each of the P.R.O.s in the United States have slightly different processes when it comes to song registration. Although it is helpful to understand how each of them operates, you only need to be fully familiar with the workings of your own P.R.O.  And, of course you can only register a song with the P.R.O. with which you are affiliated. Here are links to song registration info for ASCAP, BMI and SESAC:

ASCAP registration here. 

BMI registration here.

SESAC registration here. 

Preshias Harris is the author of “The College of Songology 101: The Singer/songwriter’s Need To Know Reference Handbook.”  It is available in print and e-book versions at www.collegeofsongology.com  The book includes more detailed information about the copyright process, song publishing, working with your P.R.O., licensing your music and much more.

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”