Music Publishing is the business of exploiting your music through licensing your songs and collecting the royalties. The copyright owner may license others to use any or all of these exclusive rights for a fee. The income generated from granting a license is publishing income, and there are four main types:

  • Performance Income
    Every time your music is played in public, you are owed a fee for the performance of your music. It is impossible for anyone to track every time a song is played in a club or on the radio, so publishers sign up with, or “affiliate with,” one of the performance rights societies: BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated), ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and SESAC. These groups issue performance licenses to radio and television stations, nightclubs, restaurants, and so forth, so that these businesses can play a variety of music. The societies then track and collect the revenues and pay the copyright owners.
  • Mechanical Royalties
    When you issue a license to a record company to manufacture and distribute copies of your songs on vinyl and CDs, the record company will owe you a fixed price per song on each copy sold. This fixed fee is the “mechanical royalty rate,” and it can be either negotiated and set in your recording contract, or based on the current statutory rate as fixed by the Copyright Act. The mechanical royalty rate is set by the Compulsory License Provision found in Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act; the current statutory mechanical rate is 9.10 Cents for songs 5 minutes or less, or 1.75 Cents per minute or fraction thereof per unit sold – whichever is greater. The Harry Fox Agency, a subsidiary of The National Music Publishers’ Association, is available to grant mechanical licenses for its almost 28,000 publisher clients. For more information, contact:

    Harry Fox Agency
    711 Third Avenue, Eight Floor, New York, NY 10017
    (212) 834-0100; fax (212) 953-2384
  • Synchronization Income
    A “synch” license is what you grant to film or television productions to allow them to use your song as an accompaniment to film and TV pictures. There is no standard industry fee for synch licenses. The fees are negotiated and depend on the importance of the particular song and how it is used in the production. In a situation where a popular song is used as the basis of a scene, such as the “Old Time Rock and Roll” scene in “Risky Business,” the fee can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For local television commercials and low-budget films, the fees are whatever you can negotiate.
  • Print Income
    These royalties are generated by any publication of your songs in written sheet music or a “folio”, which is a book of songs. This category is not a big earner for many artists, but “Greatest Hits” print anthologies published for artists like Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin are examples of popular printed music. For each book or sheet sold, the copyright owner of those songs receives a percentage of the retail price.

What do music publishers do?

A publisher is responsible for “administering the rights” associated with your copyrights, which involves getting your songs played, issuing the appropriate licenses and collecting the money. In the standard arrangement, a songwriter will sign over her copyrights to the publishing company for administration, and in turn the publishing company agrees to pay 50% of all revenues collected to the writer.

The publisher collects mechanical, synchronization, print and foreign release income for the author. The company keeps the “publisher’s share” and pays you the “writer’s share.” The one exception to this arrangement is in the performance income collected by performing rights societies. The societies issue the writer’s share directly to you, and issue the publisher its share separately.

Subpublishing: I have a popular song in a foreign country, but don’t speak the language and am not familiar with their music business customs and practices.   How can I take advantage of business opportunities related to my work over there and ensure that I am collecting the money I am owed for use of my work?

Being thousands of miles away makes it impossible to adequately conduct business without the help of a subpublisher, a foreign representative who will act on your behalf with regards to your intellectual property.  Your US publisher allows the foreign publisher (subpublisher) to act on its behalf in that respective territory.  Each foreign territory has its own particular rules in licensing music, collecting royalties, and protecting copyrights.  For this reason, it is incredibly important to select a subpublisher that you can work with and trust.  A good foreign representative will be well-versed in the local rules and procedures regarding business affairs surrounding your music, and have a music business network in place within the territory.

What exactly does a subpublisher do?

A subpublisher functions much like your own music publisher in the US. The subpublisher protects your copyrights, registers songs with the local mechanical and performance collection societies, promotes new uses for your work, collects royalties, audits royalty statements from users of your work, negotiates licenses, and sues infringers.

Foreign publishers perform a combination of administrative and promotional tasks. Some do one or the other, while some do a little of both.It is important to match your interests with the strengths of the subpublisher. If you are an artist looking to ensure that royalties are collected for use of your song, then choosing a subpublisher with strength in administrative ability is ideal.  If you are looking for new uses for your song, then selecting a subpublisher with quality contacts in the local entertainment industry would be ideal.

Another thing to keep in mind is the geographical reach of the publishing company. Some publishers have offices worldwide, while some only have offices in specific territories. If you go with a worldwide publisher any problems that arise abroad can usually be resolved through the US office. This makes conducting business and communication more efficient since you are not trying to get a hold of a publishing office in another time zone. The biggest fear in going with a worldwide publishing company is that their artist catalogue is so extensive that your work may not get the personal attention and care that you desire.  Another concern is that offices abroad may run less efficiently than the US office.

Hiring independent publishing companies on a territory by territory basis can be beneficial in that they may be able to give you more individualized attention.  They may also know the lay of the land better in their specific region.  Your US publisher may already have subpublishers abroad, in which case it might be easiest to allow them to handle your affairs.

Protect yourself: the sub-publishing agreement

Your goal in negotiating any contract should be to maximize profits and minimize risk. To do this you want to negotiate favorable contract terms for yourself.  What follows is a list of common contract elements that you will want to be familiar with so that you (or your publishing company on your behalf) may consider them when you negotiate a subpublishing agreement.  

Term – The standard length of a subpublishing agreement is generally three to five years.  Three years is the minimum duration foreign royalty collection societies often accept.  Contract length can be negotiable dependent upon the following various factors (many of which are discussed later in this section).

Advance amount

Retention rights for local cover recordings

Right to collect “pipeline” royalties (money earned prior to the expiration of the term of the subpublishing agreement, but not yet paid by the music user until after the end of the term)

Released-album guarantees

Extensions if advances have not been recouped 

Rules of local performing rights societies

Suspensions due to breaches

Extensions based on the non-achievement of guaranteed earnings plateaus

Compositions Controlled by the Agreement – Agreement may comprise the entire catalogue of a US publisher, all songs written by a particular songwriter/artist, select compositions, or an individual song.

In agreements for the entire catalogue, the following language is common 

“Publisher grants to Subpublisher the following rights in and to all the musical compositions listed on Schedule A as well as any and all musical compositions currently or hereafter owned or controlled by Publisher during the terms of this Agreement.”

This usually entails all future songs acquired during the agreement duration as well.

Royalty Percentages – The foreign representative’s compensation is always based upon the percentage of money generated by the songs controlled by the subpublishing agreement.  Generally, this percentage is anywhere from 10%-25%.  For superstar artists, this percentage can get to as low as 5%.

Local Cover Recordings – Where a subpublisher is hired for the purpose of promotion, most agreements provide that the subpublisher can take a larger percentage of the income that is generated from a local recording (usually a “cover”).  

Be wary of language that provides that, if a local recording is secured, the subpublisher’s percentage on all versions of the song contained on that cover record will be increased. 

This kind of provision is unfair if the original US version is a major hit.  The exception is when the “cover” becomes a major hit in the foreign territory, and the original US version is not generating income in the foreign territory.

Increased Fees for Cover Records – Known as an “increased cover version percentage” clause, this only applies to mechanical income (CD sales, downloads, other audio recordings; things that can be counted on a per unit basis).

The subpublisher sometimes will take an increased fee on radio and television performance income generated by the cover version of the song.  This becomes hard to monitor because performing rights societies do not account separately for different broadcast versions of the same song.

Print – the US publisher generally receives 12.5%-15% of the retail price on printed editions of all compositions, or 50% of the subpublisher’s net income. 

Usually not a major source of income

Advances – This is the amount of money you will receive up front, and depending on the clout that your musical catalogue has, the advance amount can vary widely.  If a song/catalogue is likely to generate income in the subpublisher’s territory, advance amounts upwards of six-figures is not unusual.  

The advance amount should not be the only factor considered in choosing a foreign representative.  Other factors to keep in mind;

Company integrity

Reputation for administration and promotion

Personnel

Royalty rates

Retention rights

Duration of the agreement

Do not underestimate a foreign representative because of poor English ability.  A subpublisher knows their business and more importantly, their market.

How Advances are Paid – Advances are paid in any number of ways.

One-time payment upon signing (e.g., $10,000 upon execution of the agreement)

Specified advances at the start of each one-year period of the agreement (e.g., $10,000 upon execution of agreement, and $10,000 each year of the agreement thereafter)

Advances upon the release of each album, with reductions depending on the number of songs controlled by the artist on each such album (e.g., $10,000 upon the album’s release in the foreign territory provided the writer/artist has written at least x% of the compositions on the album)

Advances upon recouping all or a specified percentage of the previous advance (e.g., $100,000 upon recouping x% of the previous $100,000 advance)

Advances on local chart activity (e.g., if a song reaches the top 10, then $10,000.  If it reaches number one, then another $10,000)

Advances based on a company’s acquisition of other US catalogues (e.g., a mutually agreeable advance in the event that the US publisher acquires a major company for representation)

Advances based on actual earnings in the foreign territory (e.g., if an album earns $50,000 in its first year, an additional advance of $50,000 will be paid to US publisher)

At-Source Royalty Payments – This provision ensures that there will be no extra charges or deductions from royalties passing from one foreign territory to another before being passed on to the US.  Typical language follows;

“All royalties payable shall be based on gross income received at the source and shall not in any way be reduced by any charges including, but not limited to, any sublicensees granted by Subpublisher except only for: (1) those fees and commissions paid by the Subpublisher to the performing rights societies, mechanical license societies, and other collection agents in the territory; and (2) payments made by the Subpublisher for any “value-added” taxes and other taxes, if any, required to be deducted in the territory.”

This language prevents foreign companies from double-deducting fees on monies earned in portions of the territory covered.

E.g., if you have an agreement with Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the agreement will prevent the German affiliate from deducting fees that may have been already deducted by Austria and Switzerland.  Without the provision, the German company could deduct 20%, then forward the remaining 80% to Austria who would deduct 20%, then forward the remaining onto Switzerland, whom would also take 20%.  

Rights Granted to the Foreign Representative – The writer/publisher usually grants the following rights in and to the musical compositions to the subpublisher.

Mechanical Rights – The right to issue mechanical licenses and collect royalties for the manufacture and distribution of records, CDs, downloads, and other audio recordings.  

Performance Rights – The local foreign representative is given the right to register the songs with the performance right society in the territory and collect the publisher’s share of income earned by performances of the songs on radio, television, live in concert, in restaurants, bars, etc.  

The writer’s share is paid directly to ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC (depending on writers’ US affiliation), and NOT the foreign subpublisher.

Audiovisual Rights

TV and Film – The US publisher normally grants the foreign subpublisher the right to issue synchronization rights to include songs in television shows and films that originate in the subpublisher’s territory.  

Home Video – For US films (and TV shows and video games, usually), the film producer will always demand that the US publisher grant home video rights on a worldwide basis via a one-time non-royalty buy-out basis.  Under this agreement, no money is paid to the foreign subpublisher.  The foreign subpublisher is usually given the right to negotiate home video licenses for audiovisual projects produced in the foreign territory, at least with respect to sales in that particular territory.

Recording Artist Videos – There is usually always a record company provision that grants worldwide right to manufacture and distribute short or long home video versions of the artist’s performances.  

For songs written by outside writers, the record company will have to negotiate a separate agreement with the publisher of each song.  In most cases a worldwide license granted on a per unit royalty or buy-out basis.  

It’s rare that a subpublisher be allowed to negotiate a separate video license for this product for sales in its territory.

Commercials – The right to include a song as part of a foreign commercial to be broadcast in a foreign territory is sometimes given to the subpublisher.  

When granted to the subpublisher, this right is usually conditional upon the subpublisher receiving approval for each particular request from the US publisher.  

Print – The right to manufacture and distribute sheet music is virtually always included in the rights being granted.

Rights Reserved by the US Publisher  – The following rights are commonly reserved by the US publisher;

  • Dramatic/literary rights
  • Commercials, political campaign uses, and endorsements
  • Grand rights (the right to use a song in a musical, live theatrical drama, opera, etc.)
  • Ownership of the copyright

All other rights that are not specifically granted by the terms of the subpublishing agreement

Royalty Payment Dates and Audit Rights – Royalties are normally accounted for twice a year, with semiannual payments and statements sent to the US music publisher 45-90 days after December 31 and June 30 of each year.  Audit rights are similar to those contained in US publishing agreements (30 day notice, audit conducted during normal business hours, limited number of times one can audit)

Retention Rights – Upon the termination of the agreement, many subpublishers will want to retain the following rights for some period of time after termination.

Pipeline Monies – Enables the subpublisher to collect money that has been earned during the term of the agreement, but has yet to be collected at the time of the agreement’s expiration.  

The US publisher generally concedes this, though usually demands a time limit on such rights (6-18 months).  This prevents the pipeline collection period from being open ended.  

Retention Rights if Advances are Unrecouped – if advances paid to the US publisher have not been recouped, the foreign subpublisher may have the right to extend the agreement for a specified period of time so that advances can be fully compensated.  

The US publisher should place a time limit on such retention rights.

The US publisher is often allowed to repay advances for full recoupment to the foreign subpublisher.

Retention Rights on Guaranteed Albums – If advances are paid upon the release of an album, the subpublisher will normally have retention rights to the songs on any such album that is released in the last six months or one year of the agreement.  

This is fair for the subpublisher because royalties generated by such an album will not be received by the subpublisher until four to nine months after release.  The subpublisher needs to be allowed to receive earnings derived from use of the work.

Retention on Local Cover Records – The subpublisher often retains the right, (duration to be negotiated) to administer a composition if a local cover record has been released during the time of the agreement.  The same applies to local film and television uses generated by promotional efforts of the foreign subpublisher.  Various provisions can be written up for this retention right;

  • Retention only if the cover record becomes a hit 
  • Retention only if the cover record earns in excess of x amount of dollars
  • Retention only if the cover record charts in the Top 10

Information that must be supplied to the foreign representative – In order for the subpublisher to properly represent you, certain basics must be provided; 

  • Correct composition titles
  • Songwriter(s) identity
  • Authorship percentages if there are co-writers
  • Performance rights affiliation of the songwriters and music publishers 
  • Publisher’s control percentages if there is more than one copyright owner or administrator
  • Multiple authors = multiple publishers
  • The US publisher should submit the following information to the subpublisher;
  • Date of the recording’s initial release in the US
  • Release information in other territories

BMI today announced the highest revenues in its 76-year history, achieving $1.060 billion for its fiscal year ended June 30. The Company also distributed and administered a record-breaking $931 million to its songwriters, composers and publishers, a 6% increase over last year. These results represent the most public performance revenue and royalty distributions by any music rights organization in the world.

BMI operates on a non-profit-making basis and returns approximately 88% of all revenue to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents.

“We are beyond pleased with this milestone,” said Mike O’Neill, President and CEO, BMI. “The ability to provide our songwriters, composers and publishers with our largest royalty distributions to date proves that the current marketplace is working efficiently, a fact the DOJ has undermined with its recent interpretation of our consent decree. We’re eager to build on this success and continue to ensure that all of our music creators are fairly paid for their work and that licensees maintain full access to BMI’s repertoire of nearly 12 million songs. As of now, the DOJ’s interpretation will disrupt these efforts, stifle creative freedom for songwriters, limit choices for music users and bog down the marketplace. We are determined not to let that happen.”

BMI’s total domestic revenue performance of $784 million was bolstered by record-breaking results in its digital and general licensing categories. Digital revenue, which exceeded $100 million for the first time last year, hit a new high of $152 million, up 50%. Numerous new agreements were signed throughout the year, notably a multi-year license with Pandora, as well as deals with Spotify, Apple Music, Microsoft, Sony’s PlayStation Video and Slacker, among others.

General Licensing, which includes fees from businesses like restaurants, bars, hotels and fitness facilities, along with other income, hit a new milestone of $140 million. The category added 15,000 new businesses to the hundreds of thousands already in BMI’s diverse portfolio.

Revenue from all media licensing, including radio, television and cable and satellite entertainment, grew to $492 million, with cable and satellite entertainment accounting for the largest portion of BMI’s domestic revenue for the third consecutive year. International revenues came in at a strong $276 million, despite significant economic challenges overseas resulting in lower foreign exchange rates. While down 5% year to year in U.S. dollars, BMI’s international revenues would have exceeded last year’s performance by $14 million had it not been for the strengthening dollar.

BMI processed more than one trillion audio performances this year, over 950 billion of which were digital, a 45% increase from last year.

In today’s music business, a musician needs to understand and receive all the various streams of revenue that they are entitled to for their musical works. However, many of today’s artists are uninformed as to what royalties they are entitled to; and, even more musicians are not properly registered nor have their works indexed. This prevents the artist from receiving all the income earned for their creative works. One of these most important streams of income that many musicians fail to recognize or handle properly  are the revenues collected by SoundExchange.

Sound Exchange is a performance rights organization authorized to collect royalties for the digital performance of sound recordings under Section 114 of the U.S. Copyright Act. The right to these funds was originally established with the passage of the Digital Performance in Sound Recording Act of 1995 and later expanded by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Originally, SoundExchange was created by the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.) to handle these new revenues; however, Sound Exchange eventually became its own stand-alone entity representing the interests of over one hundred thousand artists and copyright owners. As of August 5, 2015, Sound Exchange has reportedly paid over $3 billion directly to its artist and label members (http://www.soundexchange.com/pr/soundexchange-breaks-the-3-billion-mark/).

Unlike the other performance rights organizations in the United States that collect royalties for the public performance of musical compositions (i.e., ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC); Sound Exchange is the only entity authorized to collect royalties for the digital performance of a sound recording. Sound Exchange derives its authority, pricing and guidelines from the Copyright Royalty Board, which is appointed by the U.S. Library of Congress. SoundExchange is run by a board of directors that includes nine artist representatives and nine label representatives. This structure gives artists an equal say in the running of the organization.

6a00d83451b36c69e201b7c7ff9ff1970b-800wi
SoundExchange is authorized to collect digital performance royalties on behalf of the owners of the sound recording copyright (i.e., the actual recording of a performance of the musical composition, which is referred to as the “master recording”). Typically, the sound recording copyright is transferred to the record label as a part of the recording contract with the musician. However, there has been an increase in sound recording ownership by the artists themselves as record labels are extending far fewer recording contracts than they had done in the past. This fact is further evidenced by the large number of musicians who are involved in “Do-It-Yourself” music promotion and distribution without any traditional record label assistance.

Additionally, it is essential to understand the difference in the types of revenues collected by SoundExchange and those collected by “small” Performing Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in the United States. Performing Rights Organizations collect “small” public performance royalties for the owners of copyrighted musical composition (the underlying musical composition). These public performance royalties are paid to the music publishers, songwriters and composers of the song. For example, when Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along The Watchtower” is played over an analog radio station, the songwriter, Bob Dylan (in addition to the song’s publisher) receive royalties from the appropriate Performing Rights Organization as the original composer of the song. In contrast, Sony Music, as the sound recording owner, and Jimi Hendrix, as the featured artist, would receive royalties from SoundExchange for the song’s recordings’ transmission over a non-interactive digital platform, for example, when the song is played on Pandora. Accordingly, companies and artists can collect royalties from both sources (i.e., one royalty for the musical composition copyright and another for the sound recording copyright) as these organizations work with each other to pay musical creators the royalties they have earned from these distinct streams of income.

Under Section 114 of the American Copyright Act, SoundExchange is only authorized to issue statutory licenses for non-interactive digital platforms. These include satellite radio stations (e.g., SiriusXM Radio), internet radio stations (e.g., iHeartRadio.com), non-interactive digital music streaming services (e.g., Pandora) as well as digital cable and satellite TV services (e.g., Music Choice, Muzak, DirecTV, Dish Network). A comprehensive list of all the current licensees is available from SoundExchange at http://www.soundexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-Q3-Licensee-Count-10-19-2015.pdf. For example, Pandora is a non-interactive service as it plays similar artists and songs based on a user’s selections and preferences; whereas, Spotify is an interactive service that enables a user to determine the exact song they wish to hear at that moment.

Each non-interactive licensee pays a statutory rate that is determined by a variety of factors, including the number of stations or channels, the number of listeners or subscribers, and/or the amount of advertising and other revenues earned by the licensee. In contrast, on-demand or interactive music streaming services, such as Spotify, are not subject to SoundExchange statutory licensing. These interactive services must enter into separate licensing agreements with the song’s copyright owners to utilize the works.

To pay its members, SoundExchange receives monthly reports from each of its licensees listing exactly what each licensee has performed that month. This data is compiled and utilized to distribute the licensing fees collected by SoundExchange to the appropriate6a00d83451b36c69e201b8d1897e71970c-800wi
parties on a pay-per-play basis. Of the total amounts collected, 50% percent of these funds are distributed to the owner of the song’s sound recording (typically, a record label), 45% of these funds go to the featured performer on the track (typically, the musician) and the remaining 5% of these funds are distributed to the non-featured performers on the track through the American Federation of Musicians (A.F.M.) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (A.F.T.R.A.). Additionally, SoundExchange takes a 4.6% administrative fee “off the top” of the total funds collected to handle these matters on behalf of its members.

Additionally, these royalties are very important to an artist as the funds are distributed directly to the recording artist without the artist’s respective share being first distributed to the artist’s record label. Typically, if the record label were to receive these funds first, they could potentially apply the funds against any unrecouped balance amount owed to the label; however, SoundExchange prevents this by distributing the funds directly to the artist. This distribution system is extremely advantageous to an artist, especially those signed to a major record label, as the artist can continue to receive SoundExchange payments without being fully recouped with their record label, which is not the case with most other royalties accrued in the music industry.

Also, SoundExchange currently holds at least $200 million in royalties owed to non-member artists. Most of these artists are unaware of the existence of this relatively new digital performance right and of the organization, SoundExchange, which administers the licensing. With the rise in popularity of Internet radio stations and music streaming services coupled with the decline in CD and download sales, it is essential that record labels and recording artists properly register with SoundExchange to ensure proper collection and distribution of all the royalties owed to them. SoundExchange’s distribution numbers have steadily risen in recent years and should continue to increase as more users switch from downloading media to streaming-based digital music services.

In conclusion, in order to receive the full value of an artist’s work, they should sign-up with SoundExchange and ensure that their musical repertoire is properly indexed to receive all the amounts they are entitled to. Additionally, SoundExchange does not administer royalties on behalf of downloaded material, as that is typically handled by the sound recording copyright owner (the record label).

Collins Connect handles all matters pertaining to music and the law, contact our office for help in registering your copyrights as well as indexing your works with ASCAP, BMI and SoundExchange visit www.collinsconnect.org.

us-money-with-black-backdrop

After a glitzy night in Los Angeles for the Grammys awards, we can say that it wasn’t just stars who upped their profile – the issue of songwriter royalties has more prominence than ever.

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow adapted his annual anti-piracy speech during the awards to focus on royalties from streaming music, while Sony/ATV boss Martin Bandier also highlighted the issue before the event, in a speech picking up a President’s Award at the pre-Grammy Gala.

“Music has tremendous value in our lives. While ways of listening to music evolve, we must remember that music matters in our lives, and that new technology must pay artists fairly,” said Portnow from the Grammys stage. This, as his organisation launched something called the Creators Alliance, which plans to “advise those who make policy in music and in government so that our next generation of creators are able to make tomorrow’s music as great as tonight’s”.

Bandier had also banged the drum for songwriters’ rights in his pre-Grammys speech. “The music industry is changing in ways that I could never have imagined even just a decade ago; it is exciting for us that this has resulted in music lovers having new ways to listen to music as they move from CDs and digital downloads to streaming services,” he said. “But it is also the case that songwriters are not being adequately compensated for their creations in today’s digital world. Their songs are the very reason these services exist.”

In the US, there is added impetus from last week’s Copyright and the Music Marketplace report by the US Copyright Office, with its suggestion that “sound recordings and the underlying musical works should stand on more equal footing” in the digital realm.

Meanwhile, in the UK, songwriters’ body BASCA has just launched its own “The Day The Music Died” campaign calling for fairer digital deals and more transparency: “Without songwriters and composers there is no music industry and it is, therefore, scarcely believable that writers are almost an afterthought when it comes to getting paid for their work from digital sources,” said chief executive Vick Bain.

Tension between publishers and labels over royalties is nothing new, to say the least. Individually, a number of songwriters have spoken out about their worries over digital royalties in recent years too.

But there’s an urgency about the desire of their representative bodies to give these issues a higher profile at the start of 2015, for reasons including copyright legislation and upcoming royalty-rate setting in the US; the accelerating streaming transition with Apple and YouTube’s full market entry to come; and perhaps a sense that songwriters and publishers have a moment of leverage with labels by threatening to put a spoke in the wheels of Spotify’s IPO bandwagon.

Register Your Business Name
Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities.

This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.

What is a “Doing Business As” Name?

A fictitious name (or assumed name, trade name or DBA name) is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

It’s important to note that when you form a business, the legal name of the business defaults to the name of the person or entity that owns the business, unless you choose to rename it and register it as a DBA name.

For example, consider this scenario: John Smith sets up a painting business. Rather than operate under his own name, John instead chooses to name his business: “John Smith Painting”. This name is considered an assumed name and John will need to register it with the appropriate local government agency.

The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.

Do I Need a “Doing Business As” Name?

A DBA is needed in the following scenarios:

Sole Proprietors or Partnerships – If you wish to start a business under anything other than your real name, you’ll need to register a DBA so that you can do business as another name.
Existing Corporations or LLCs – If your business is already set up and you want to do business under a name other than your existing corporation or LLC name, you will need to register a DBA.
Note: Not all states require the registering of fictitious business names or DBAs.

How to Register your “Doing Business As” Name

Registering your DBA is done either with your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where your business is located. There are a few states that do not require the registering of fictitious business names.

Many songwriters aspire to be signed to a music publishing deal, but many do not know exactly what this means and what it entails. Publishing is a crucial aspect of your career, and it’s still at the heart of today’s ever-morphing music business, since it all starts with the song. And publishing can be quite lucrative, so it’s worth educating yourself about.

Generally speaking, there are two types of music publishing agreements these days: a co-publishing deal and a publishing administration deal.

CO-PUBLISHING DEALS

A co-publishing deal is what its name implies – you share the publishing with someone else (whether an individual or a company). You as the songwriter typically assign 50% of your publishing share over to this other entity in exchange (usually) for money. The money can come in the form of an up front advance, or a draw where you get paid in semi-annual, quarterly or even monthly installments. The term of the co-publishing agreement is usually for an initial 12-month year, with options to extend the agreement for an additional year(s). Sometimes, if you are an artist as well, the co-publishing deal might be tied to each album you do.

You take on certain obligations when you sign a deal like this:

A) You must write a minimum number of 100% songs that the signing entity considers commercially satisfactory for their purposes – and if you co-write any of the songs, then the co-written songs only count towards your minimum in the share that you end up retaining (i.e. two 50% co-writes equals one full song, three 33.33% co-writes equals one full song, etc.)

B) If you are not an artist, the agreement might also specify that you have what is referred to as a “record & release commitment.” This means that you must have a minimum number of songs recorded by any artist on a legitimate label and the songs must end up getting released and start to earn income.

If you don’t meet these two main requirements then your next option typically won’t get exercised, and you will be “stuck” in your first contract year. This is why it is important to get proper legal counsel in any deal – the cost of a lawyer can save you thousands of dollars down the road. The entity you sign this deal with takes on its own obligations. It must actively pitch to get your songs recorded by artists, or get them used in film/TV/ads as long as your recordings are of master (and not demo) quality. They also should try to set you up on co-writes with other songwriters or writer/artists. And they need to do all things administratively to register, license and protect your songs worldwide.

The money you are given in a co-publishing deal as an advance must be recouped (i.e. paid back) to the entity that is paying. In the typical 50/50 co-publishing deal, since half of all income is writer’s share and half is considered publisher’s share, you are entitled to 75 cents of every dollar earned (i.e. your full 50 cents as the writer and 25 cents as the publisher, since you assigned half of the publishing away). The entity collects your 75 cents of every dollar and sets it against the advance paid to you, and you won’t see any other income from them until your entire advance has been paid back. In the meantime, they receive the remaining 25 cents of every dollar.

So as you can see, a co-publishing deal is essentially a bank loan with 25% interest. And depending on the leverage you have going into the deal, you may very well have to give complete control of these songs in perpetuity to this publisher (even though you retain 50% of the publishing). Sometimes you can build in a reversion clause where you can get control of your 50% back or maybe even the entire 100% back, but this is a factor of your leverage and your lawyer. So make your decisions carefully and with experienced counsel.

ADMIN DEALS

In the other scenario, you do not assign any of your publishing away. You retain 100% and engage a third party as your administrator to do all things administrative relating to your songs: PRO registrations, registrations in the US Copyright Office, worldwide registrations through sub-publishers to collect your foreign income, negotiating and issuing licenses, collecting your royalties from all sources, etc. Though you retain all ownership in your songs, you do give up a percentage to get these services done for you on your behalf – that percentage is typically 10-15% for domestic income and 15-20% for foreign income.

Some administration deals involve all things administrative but no creative; depending on the admin company you are dealing with, if they have a creative department, you might also get access to the team that would pitch your songs to artists and film/TV/ads. In that case, if they secure a use for your music, you typically have to pay them a higher percentage than what I mentioned in the paragraph above. This is the company’s incentive to go out and try to generate the income for you.

Of course, you could do all this administrative and creative work yourself, but most songwriters don’t have the knowledge or inclination to take care of their catalogue worldwide. You want as much time as possible to write more songs! It should be noted that some administration deals can come with an advance if you have “pipeline income,” or impending significant activity (e.g. a big record coming out). In that case, you don’t receive any of your income until the advance is recouped (just like under the co-publishing deal). But sometimes the percentage the administrator takes will go up if they are giving you an advance – so it’s always a good idea to run the numbers.

Speaking of running the numbers: let’s assume you have a song you wrote by yourself on a record that sells one million copies in the US. That generates $91,000 in mechanical royalties (1,000,000 copies x 9.1 cents as the current mechanical rate in the US). Under a co-publishing deal, you would see $68,250 of that income as your 75%. Under an admin deal at 10% for domestic income, you would see $81,900 of that income. The difference is $13,650. That’s a big difference. So choose your deals carefully, but most importantly, go with a company that you feel will be your partner. Nothing can beat the strength of a great working relationship.

streaming-music-radio-services-playlists-compared

As streaming has become increasingly important in today’s music market, it is imperative that you understand how streams turn into publishing royalties – and of course, how to get those royalties into your wallet.

Let’s divide streaming into two different types: Interactive and Non-Interactive. These are defined by the listener’s ability to choose the songs that play next (ability to ‘interact’ with the streaming service, if you will).

1) Non-Interactive Streaming:

Definition: Listeners play music, without the ability to choose the songs that play next.

Also Known As: Internet Radio.

Examples: Pandora, Sirius XM, NPR.

Royalties Generated: Performance royalties.
(These are performances like radio, but digital. Thus, terrestrial radio and other radio-like services generate only performance royalties.)

How to Collect: Join a PRO (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC). PROs are responsible for tracking and collecting performance royalties generated from terrestrial and internet radio.

2) Interactive Streaming:

Definition: Interactive streaming services allow listeners to CHOOSE the songs that are played.

Also Known As: On-demand streaming.

Examples: Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Google Play, Beats Music.

Royalties: Performance royalties & Mechanical royalties.

How to collect: To collect the performance royalties, you will need to join a PRO. To collect the mechanical royalties, you will need to become a publisher affiliate at Harry Fox Agency (to do so on your own, you must have a commercially distributed record release in the US within the last year).

Image

Washington, DC – May 21, 2014 – Media and entertainment union SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange, the independent organization that collects and distributes royalties for the streaming of sound recordings on digital radio, have teamed up. Together they identified SAG-AFTRA members who may have a cumulative $2.3 million in unclaimed royalties for the use of their recordings from 2,500+ digital radio services.

SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange conducted an extensive crosscheck between their two databases to identify nearly 2,000 union member performers who are potentially owed royalties. A large number of those identified as potentially having royalties collected by SoundExchange on their behalf include actors and comedians, who are likely unaware they are owed money. All members identified are receiving communications via U.S. mail and email alerting them to the waiting money, and directing them to SoundExchange’s simple (and free) online registration.

“Royalties are an important revenue stream, not just for our recording artist members, but for all our members whose recordings are played on some type of digital platform,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. “Anytime we can assist our members in collecting money for their professional work, we’re happy to help. SoundExchange has been a great partner with the union and we’re grateful that this organization exists for our members’ benefit.”
“While we are best known for our focus on music, SoundExchange also collects royalties for actors, comedians and spoken word recordings,” said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe. “The match with SAG-AFTRA allows SoundExchange to reach all of these important performers (both music and non-music) who are entitled to their share of royalties from streaming radio services. We are pleased with the union’s efforts to help register their eligible members, and look forward to working with them on future initiatives.”

When sound recordings are streamed on certain digital services, including satellite radio, Internet radio and cable TV music channels (such as iHeart Radio, Pandora, SiriusXM and Music Choice), SoundExchange collects a royalty on behalf of both performers and copyright holders, as directed under U.S. Copyright Law. Since 2001, SoundExchange has collected and paid out more than $2 billion in digital royalties. SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange have partnered to locate unregistered SAG-AFTRA members to ensure that they know about this important revenue stream and urge them to take the steps necessary to collect the royalties that they are owed.

Any artist whose recordings are played can earn and claim royalties through SoundExchange. Performers and owners of master recordings may register with SoundExchange free of charge to receive royalties. For more information on registration, please call SoundExchange at (800) 961-2091.

About SAG-AFTRA
SAG-AFTRA represents more than 165,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. With national offices in Los Angeles and New York and local offices nationwide, SAG-AFTRA members work together to secure the strongest protections for media artists into the 21st century and beyond. Visit SAG-AFTRA online at SAGAFTRA.org.

It doesn’t matter if you earn $10 or more than $50,000 each month. Large or small, superstar or rising star, every record label and each artist is treated with equal importance. We fight for the rights of all record labels and recording artists and constantly work to support, protect, and propel the music industry forward. 

Image

Royalty Payments Simplified
Since our inception, we‘ve paid out more than $2 billion in digital performance royalties. In 2013 alone, we paid $590 million directly to record labels and recording artists.
SoundExchange offers one-stop payments from digital radio services that simplify the royalty payment process for those we serve. In fact, 30 percent of all payments go directly to independent labels and artists. SoundExchange payments are “bottom line” revenue, which we’re told are critical to continued operations for smaller independent labels.

We Help Creators Do What They Do Best
SoundExchange helps independent labels and artists focus on what they do best – create the music we love to listen to, while we focus on the rest. The statutory license we administer for more than 100,000 record label and artists accounts removes unnecessary “back-office” burdens and enables cost-sharing opportunities, including:
Royalty processing and covering rate settings
Royalty accounting
Enforcement, oversight and audits
A Unified Voice
SoundExchange fights for royalty structures that recognize the vital role the creators of music play for digital services. We take full advantage of our presence in Washington, DC where we push for proper recognition of the value of U.S. sound recordings abroad – and overseas.
SoundExchange recognizes that performance royalty payments from digital radio are a vital source of income for independent labels and musicians – as such we are constantly fighting to support and protect the value of music. This includes our ability to represent the entire recorded music industry with a unified voice.

SoundExchange on the Road
Whether it is at A2IM Indie Week, CMJ, New Music Seminar or through our support of A2IM’s presence at MIDEM, the simple fact of the matter is that we are committed to supporting and protecting the advancement of the indie community. We strive to meet as many independent labels and artists as we can, with a focus not only on the work we do for you today, but also the services we can offer tomorrow.

Image

January 15, 2014

  • Let’s face it. No one likes to wait. Recognizing that sooner really is better, SoundExchange is pleased to announce it will begin offering monthly royalty payments to those artist and labels that are signed up to receive electronic payments beginning this month. Currently, the organization distributes royalties quarterly.

 

  • Initially, monthly royalty payments will be sent to those that are signed up to receive electronic payments, and have royalties due of at least $250. Artists and labels that do not meet this minimum threshold will continue to be paid on a regular, quarterly schedule under our existing guidelines. After the initial roll out period, SoundExchange will re-evaluate eligibility qualifications for our monthly payment program.

 

  • “While SoundExchange was already a market-leader with quarterly distributions, moving to monthly payments takes our service to the next level,” said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe. “By making performance royalties available sooner, we are making it easier for recording artists and record labels to focus on creating the music we all enjoy.”

Image

 

  • SoundExchange is the first sound recording rights organization in the world to offer monthly distributions. Most sound recording performance organizations in other countries pay only annually.

 

  • Have questions? We are happy to provide you with any information regarding this new change. Please contact SoundExchange at accounts@SoundExchange.com or speak to a SoundExchange Representative at 1-800-961-2091.

ASCAP pays members for live performances at venues of any size

Image

You can receive royalties when your music is performed live at venues of all sizes throughout the country. Just provide the basic details of the performance and which of your songs were performed and you’ll receive an OnStage payment with your normal ASCAP distribution. It’s that simple.

Make ASCAP OnStage a regular part of your post-show routine, no matter how big or small the venue. ASCAP OnStage is available 24/7 via your Member Access account for convenience and flexibility.

The March 31st, 2014 deadline is for the submission of all live performance claims from October 1st, 2013 through December 31st, 2013.

 

Image

****TOMORROW IS THE DEADLINE FOR THE 25K FROM ASCAP! HIT ME IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE OR HAVE QUESTIONS.

ASCAP Plus Awards is available to writers who received less than $25,000 in domestic performance royalties in the previous calendar year. On an annual basis, eligible writer members must confirm all of their works are registered with ASCAP, activate direct deposit and then submit an application using the “Apply” button below. For more information about ASCAP Plus Awards, please visit http://www.ascap.com/members/ascaplus.aspx

Email me if you need assistance or have questions. You must be an ASACP member. Candace@CollinsConnect.org

Image

Image

ASCAP pays members for live performances at venues of any size

You can now receive royalties when your music is performed live at venues of all sizes throughout the country. Just provide the basic details of the performance and which of your songs were performed and you’ll receive an OnStage payment with your normal ASCAP distribution. It’s that simple.

Make ASCAP OnStage a regular part of your post-show routine, no matter how big or small the venue. OnStage is available 24/7 via your Member Access account for convenience and flexibility.

Call or email me if you have questions or if you need administration services to complete your ASCAP on your behalf. CollinsConnect.org

Image

How You Get Paid at ASCAP

ASCAP receives payment for public performances of songs and compositions by negotiating license fees with the users of music (radio, network and cable TV, web sites, bars, clubs, shopping malls, concert halls, airlines, etc.). We distribute the revenue we receive to ASCAP members whose music was picked up in our performance surveys.

The value of each performance is determined by several factors, including the amount of license fees collected in a medium (television, cable, radio, etc.), how much we receive in fees from the licensee that hosted the performance, and the type of performance (feature performance, background music, theme song, etc.).

What Makes ASCAP’s Payment System Unique

There are billions of performances licensed by ASCAP each year. ASCAP is committed to paying our members for these performances fairly, accurately and efficiently. ASCAP collects and distributes more money in performance royalty income than any other organization, and our payment system is by far thefairest and most objective in the U.S.

ASCAP pays directly and fairly. We are guided by a “follow the dollar” principle in the design of our payment system. In other words, the money collected from television stations is paid out to members for performances of their works on television, the money collected from radio stations is paid out for radio performances, and so on.

ASCAP is owned and governed by its members. We are the only American performing rights organization with a Board of Directors elected from and by our membership. Every decision the ASCAP Board makes is in the best interests of ASCAP members, because every member of the Board is an ASCAP member. That means we are committed to maximizing payments for the public performance of your music. In most situations, ASCAP pays more than our competitors over the life of a copyright.

At ASCAP, We Always Pay Our Writer Members Directly

As a condition of membership, all ASCAP members agree that the writer – and not the writer’s employer – will be paid the writer’s share of ASCAP performing rights royalties, even in work-for-hire situations. ASCAP’s Articles of Association provide that writer royalties “shall not be sold or otherwise disposed of.” Therefore, with very few exceptions, ASCAP will not honor an irrevocable assignment of writer’s royalties. We strongly believe that music creators should benefit from their work. Period.

 

Features

  • Get paid for every live performance*
  • Track your live performances
  • Save multiple setlists for easy submission
  • Submit your performances on the go via ASCAP Mobile

Image

The ASCAP Plus Awards program provides cash and recognition to writers who create music with a value beyond the scope of performance surveys. All ASCAP Plus Award applications must be submitted on or before July 1st, 2013.

The ASCAP Plus Awards program is available to writers who received less than $25,000 in domestic performance royalties in the previous calendar year. It rewards writer members of all genres whose works were performed in unsurveyed media, as well as writer members whose catalogs have prestige value.

To be considered for an ASCAP Plus Award, each writer must submit an online application via Member Access. The application must be submitted annually and reference achievements of the previous calendar year.

CONTACT me ASAP if you have ASCAP for the 25k in possible writer’s Royalties 

ASCAP Plus Awards Deadline July 1, 2013

ASCAP Plus Awards

The ASCAP Plus Awards program provides cash and recognition to writers who create music with a value beyond the scope of performance surveys.

All ASCAP Plus Award applications must be submitted on or before July 1, 2013

Who is Eligible

The ASCAP Plus Awards program is available to writers who received less than $25,000 in domestic performance royalties in the previous calendar year. It rewards writer members of all genres whose works were performed in unsurveyed media as well as writer members whose catalogs have prestige value.

How to Participate

To be considered for an ASCAP Plus Award, each writer must submit an online application via Member Access. The application must be submitted annually and reference achievements of the previous calendar year.

 
“The status quo is ‘indefensible’.”  Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante testified at a recent subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee that Congress has studied the issue of musicians’ performance rights long enough http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/113th/03202013/Pallante%20032013.pdf

The U.S. is ‘alone in the world’ in denying performance royalties Register Pallante explained and it’s indefensible. Subcommittee Ranking Member Mel Watt (NC-12) also questioned the lack of a performance right: ‘It’s time, and the time is long overdue, for Congress to recognize a performance right in sound recordings. To do so requires no further study. To not do so just prolongs this long standing inequity and keeps us out of pace with the international community