AUDIO TIOS: Publishing

Audio Tip #16:PUBLISHING

The Promotion Department of a publishing company has the responsibility of promoting the catalog by designing and preparing promotional CD packages, songbooks,and other items for distribution to recording artists and record producers, television, motion picture and trailer producers, ad agencies, home video, merchandise, greeting card, jukebox, video jukebox , ringtone and premium companies.

Many of the individuals in the creative department of a publishing company are also familiar with the ins and outs of recording studios and produce or help produce many of the demo sessions for new songs. Many of the experienced ones are also able to develop songwriters as recording artists and produce 'master quality' demos for selling writer/performers to record companies as artists.

It takes time to be good at playing a musical instrument. (Just like songwriting). If you rush things and submit your music to a record label, they will hear the incompetence within seconds. A record label has a reputation to maintain, and most importantly, they're running a business. They would reject music that shows lack of skills. Don't rush the songwriting process, then make lots of mistakes, and expect to get positive feedback on your demo submission. Be guided by industry standards.

A record label is a company that's in the business of producing, distributing and selling albums. A record label signs recording artists. If these artists do not write their own songs, members of the label's A&R department will meet with publishers in the hopes of finding hit songs for their artists.

Songwriters' incomes come from a variety of sources. Songwriters earn money primarily from mechanical royalties, performance royalties, print royalties, synchronization licenses and publisher advances. If a songwriter is also a recording artist and/or producer, he will earn additional royalties, but those royalties are totally separate from monies generated by the songs themselves.

Payment is made per unit. A "unit" refers to one recording of a song on an audiocassette, CD, or record, whether it's an album or a single. Each song included on an album is considered one unit. If you are lucky enough to have written 10 songs on an album, you will be paid for 10 units for each album sold.

In the United States, the mechanical royalty rate is established by Congress and is called the "Statutory Rate." With one exception (the 3/4 rate which we'll discuss another time), the Statutory Rate is not negotiable and applies equally to all songwriters. Therefore, Michael Jackson, Diane Warren, Garth Brooks and you, all receive the same mechanical royalty for each album or single sold.

When you're pitching a song to a radio station, remember that most program directors (PD) and music directors (MD) accept calls only during specified hours. Ask their assistants for their "call hours," and call then and only then to pitch your material. These call hours apply to everyone--major labels, indie labels, independent promoters--so be prepared to be put on hold for an extended period of time. Call once just to make sure the PD or MD received your package. Don't bug them before they've had a chance to form an opinion!

--preceding excerpt is from The Self-Promoting Musician, by Peter Spellman, Copyright 2001 Berklee Press

Saxophonist Ernie Watts (Berklee'66) has toured and recorded with artists as diverse as Barbara Streisand, Earth, Wind and Fire, and the Rolling Stones. Here he shares some of his thoughts on maintaining integrity and perspective in the music business:

"The music business is not that complicated. The first word in the music business is 'music.' There isn't any 'business' if there isn't any music. So, as an artist, your primary concern is to create the best music you can possibly create. The business will follow. Because I always tried to be the best that I could be, and because I was focused, that created my business. People wanted me to be there because I could play. I wasn't taking contractors to dinner."

When you're promoting yourself, keeping organized is critical. Write down all information in a notebook. Provide a separate page for each station. Keep a phone log for every station you contact and note all the names of those with whom you speak . If you have access to a computer, store your data in a database file for easy retrieval. Once you've compiled a list of stations you're confident will give your music a hearing, you'll be ready to put a package together to mail out.

"Lord knows that it is hard to get to the top, but it is a darned sight harder staying there. The music business is littered with shooting stars that have burned out. So pace yourselves; it is not a sprint that you are running, it is more like a marathon. And remember, you have to keep running.

"Obviously, talent is required. And plain hard work. Every first-class musician I have known works hard at his talent."

Because of the sheer quantity of music at college radio stations and the natural time constraints of student DJs, it is wise to make their job easier by telling them the cut you want played. Some will ignore your choice and make their own selections, but most will take your lead and play that cut. Having a single play repeatedly over several weeks is often more effective than airing multiple cuts. Your single should be the strongest song on the CD and should not exceed three and one-half minutes.

The fees payable to a writer for creative services related to the writing of a radio or television jingle can range from minimum compensation to well over $250,000. The amount that you will receive will be dependent on the type of campaign being planned (e.g., national, local, test), the music budget, and whether the writer is an independent contractor unaffiliated with an advertising agency or a jingle production company. It will also depend on whether the artist is signed to a production company or owns his or her own firm, is an employee of the advertising agency, has a hit song that the agency wants to use, or is a successful writer/recording artist who will create and perform advertising music.

Another alternative that some agencies will take is to contact an independent songwriter, explain the theme

of the campaign, and hire the composer to write the jingle. Without his or her own production facility, however, the probability of securing the commercial assignment is slim unless the writer has a successful track record for writing hit songs or a reputation in the jingle business as a successful commercial writer.

Advertising agencies are also very important for songwriters. When an agency is hired to create a radio or television commercial, it must first decide whether the campaign demands a new song chosen or whether the use of a past or present hit song is preferable.

Performance income from music licensed to TV is determined by the number of people estimated to have seen the show and therefore heard the music. The more popular the show, the more money you make on performance royalties. A network TV usage might pay in the $1000 to $2000 range for one broadcast. You make new royalties every time the show is re-run, which is particularly good news if you've got music on a show that goes into syndication and airs frequently in markets around the world. Cable broadcasts generally pay less than broadcast networks (less viewers).

Performance royalties are collected from radio and TV broadcasters, etc. by the Performing rights organizations ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC in the United States (each country has its own P.R.O.). The P.R.O.s distribute these payments to their member songwriters and publishers based on formulas that calculate how many people have been exposed to the song. A number one pop single might earn as much as a million dollars in performance royalties in its biggest year.

No performance royalties are generated on theatrical showings of films in the U.S.A. (though they are paid in other countries), but when the film is aired on TV, you would make your performance money

Mechanical Royalties is the name given to revenues paid for the "mechanical reproduction" of musical compositions on sound recordings. It refers to the royalties paid for the sale of a physical, tangible product containing music. Audio cassettes, CDs, record albums, and videocassettes all generate mechanical royalties. In plain English, mechanical royalties are the monies you are paid for the copies of your songs that are sold.

In the United States, the mechanical royalty rate is established by Congress and is called the "Statutory Rate." With one exception (the 3/4 rate which we'll discuss another time), the Statutory Rate is not negotiable and applies equally to all songwriters. Therefore, Michael Jackson, Diane Warren, Garth Brooks and you, all receive the same mechanical royalty for each album or single sold.

Payments from record sales are called mechanical royalties and are paid by the record company to the publisher of the song through the Harry Fox Agency. The royalty rate is set by congress (the "statutory rate") and is at this writing set at 8 cents per song. Therefore if you had one song that was written and published solely by you on a million selling album, you would earn $80,000 in mechanical royalties.

Songwriters' incomes come from a variety of sources. Songwriters earn money primarily from mechanical royalties, performance royalties, print royalties, synchronization licenses and publisher advances. If a songwriter is also a recording artist and/or producer, he will earn additional royalties, but those royalties are totally separate from monies generated by the songs themselves.

Once a venue books you, they add you to their schedule and include you in their press releases, calendars, posters and flyers. This doesn't mean that you should leave the promotion of the concert to the venues. On the contrary, you should notify your fans with a mailing notice, print up your own posters and flyers, and promote your shows in any creative way you can think of.

Songwriters earn money in two ways: a) When records are sold and b) when their songs are played on radio, TV and other public areas (restaurants, concerts, etc.). Of course most songwriters also perform, and any money they earn in this area helps to keep them going in between royalty checks.

Contrary to popular belief, songs are not 'sold' to the artists that record them. In fact, artists who record 'outside' songs, pay nothing for the privilege until records are sold. Then and only then so the songwriters get paid.

It's a good policy to not be too picky about what venues to play. The more resistant venues may become friendlier if your act is out in the local scene and your name is listed on radio station concert calendars and print media calendars. The venue bookers check out their competition. If you're out there playing gigs, the bookers will eventually take notice. That's part of their job.

Live performance is glamorous and exciting. But performers often forget that club owners have a different perspective on music than musicians do. For venues, it's business, a very serious business, fraught with risk and considerable competition. The question for you to keep in mind when approaching the booker of a live venue is; why does this club book certain artists, and not others? What is the criteria to get a gig at this venue? The bottom line for club owners is they need to make a living at their profession, and the only way they can do that is to book acts that fill their club.

It's the job of the bookers to be aware of what new acts are causing a stir in their own backyard. It's also their job to listen to the demos that come in the mail by the dozens every week. This brings up the issue of protocol. Yes, there is an etiquette for all areas of music marketing, and the protocol for dealing with bookers is: mail the promo kit, wait a week to ten days, and then call the booker to ask for their response to your kit. Believe it or not, politeness and respect are fairly uncommon virtues in the music business. Make sure not to interrupt meetings. Ask the person if now is a good time for them to talk. If they request a call back, do so at the time requested.

In the United States, the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) is the central hub for all things pertaining to obtaining the rights to record and sell copies of songs written by other people. Outside the U.S., similar Mechanical Rights agencies exist for Canada, the UK, Europe and elsewhere.

The two areas of rights that the Harry Fox Agency deals with are mechanical and digital licenses. Mechanical licensing is the licensing of copyrighted musical compositions for use on CDs, records, tapes, and certain digital configurations. Digital Licensing is the licensing of copyrighted musical compositions in digital configurations, including but not limited to, full downloads, limited-use downloads, on-demand streaming and CD burning.

Based on the length of each song and the number of units you plan to sell, the Harry Fox Agency will charge you a fee based upon the statutory mechanical royalty rate. This is the money collected from each sale of your cover version that goes directly to the song's writer and publisher (often split 50/50). Currently (January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2005), the statutory mechanical royalty rate is 8.50 Cents for songs 5 minutes or less and 1.65 Cents per minute or fraction thereof over 5 minutes.

There is no "one way" to make it in the music biz. If you ask 20 successful musicians, you'll get 20 different answers. And there are no guarantees that even if you do anything and everything you can, that you will get the result that you want. So check your motives and be careful what you wish and work for, because you might just get it.

The only way I know of to get a distribution deal is to get a distributor interested in your music. First, you need to find out who the distributors are in you area. Start by going to the local music stores, approach the owner and ask which distributors they do business with. Avoid the big-box music stores, as they only do business with national acts and major labels.

If there is any doubt what kind of promotional materials should be put into your kits, think of the possible ingredients that could go into the kit? Those promotional materials are like the tools you have in your home repair toolkit. You have different tools, but you rarely use them all at once. It's the same with what you put into your folders and envelopes. You have created a bio, a fact sheet, a photo, press clippings or quote sheets, and cover letters. In addition to all those items, you may also create a list of song lyrics, a stage plot for your live show presentations, or an equipment list. So, do you use them all? The answer is simple. Ask the recipient of your kit what they want you to send them. It's as simple as that.

Legal and commercial royalty arrangements vary greatly from nation to nation. Some feel that the UK law lags behind the EU and US law in some respects, but it's hard to say which is best. They all have benefits and drawbacks. Remember this fact, it's always best to get some legal advice from a qualified professional.

In the US and the UK, your work is legally copyrighted as soon as you record or write it out. In the US this is referred to as "fixed." To protect your copyright you need to: prove that it's yours; prove when you produced it, and have the copyright clearly marked on all copies of the work.

Original words, music, recordings and graphics can be copyrighted, but musical arrangements and titles of compositions cannot be. The only exception to this rule is the intentional use of satire when parodying the work of another.

The license fee for music used in films or TV is determined by the overall music budget a music supervisor has to work with, and the negotiating power of the artist. Unknown artists get far less license money than superstars, for example. TV shows and small films pay less than major studio feature films. A prime-time network TV show might pay a license of $500 to $5000 for an unknown artist. Smaller films will pay the same. Major studio pictures pay well-known artists in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Whenever you have an opportunity to present something to a professional in the music business, you should remember two things: 1) What type of information does the person receiving your information need from you to do their job? 2) Does the folder or envelope that contains your kit reflect the professional image you want?

The first impression your music makes is a visual impression. In other words, if the package your music arrives in looks unprofessional, your music may never be listened to. This goes for everybody in the business, cover bands and original acts alike.

The professional gatekeepers in the music industry see hundreds of promotional packages a month, and after years of dealing with these packages, it's very easy to tell what artist or band has their act together professionally, and who doesn't.

Don't go overboard in your eagerness to please. A folder can be a 35cent folder, with the band or artist's logo used as a sticker placed on the front cover of the folder or envelope. The promo materials included inside should be neatly written and laid out. A package that looks "too slick" can work against you as much as much as a poorly designed package will.

Be prepared to seriously discount your self-produced CDs if you are going to use a distributor. Remember that if they can't turn a profit from your product, you stand little chance of doing business with them. Not only that, but the people they will be selling your CD to won't buy it unless they can turn a profit as well. It is a smart thing if you keep all of this in mind before you even create the budget for recording your CD.

If you are seeking help with the distribution of your self-produced CDs, you need to get in touch with a lot of distributors and have them all interested in where they think they could make a profit. Usually record labels deal with distributors and know most of them from the small to the medium to the large. That is why most bands try to get a deal with a label and the label will deal with the distributors. They usually all know each other and are careful to remain good business partners with each other. You can also buy linoleum blocks used for creating prints at a local art supply store. These require you or someone in your band to carve out an image on them (it really helps if you or someone that you know is an artist or at least artistically inclined.) Again, use the inkpad and transfer the image(s) that you created to the CDs.

Here's a neat trick for making presentable CDs without spending a fortune. Get some unbranded printable white CD-Rs. Go to some arts & craft store and look for some pre-cut rubber stamps with .

images that suit your music. If you can't find them in a craft store, you might find them online or look for a custom rubber stamp maker. Buy an inkpad of your color choice, and simply stamp the image on your CDs.

Whichever printing method you choose to place an image on your self-produced CDs, be sure to let the ink set a good 12 hours or more. This is especially true with the block printing inks. Don't slide them into paper/type sleeves right away because the wet ink will adhere to the plastic window and stick and/or smear.

Always remember that recording is very different than any other kind of music-making. Making a recording is different than a live performance, and elements that you may not have played before may be very helpful if layered in such as doubled guitars, or tambourines on the rhythm track.

In reality, what all artists have to understand is that there are three basic rights that publishers deal with. When a song is written, the writer owns the entire copyright, all the publishing rights and the writer's share of those rights. Publishing usually refers to only 50% of the writer's royalty, which is known as the publisher's share.

There is more to publishing than record sales. That's pretty straightforward stuff. Publishing is usually set up and split up in so many different ways that it confuses people. The part that freaks everyone out the most is when publishers talk about 200% of 100% of a song. That's really an old-fashioned and traditional way to explain copyrights, songwriter royalties and publishing, and it hardly ever makes sense to anybody.

If a songwriter signs a co-publishing deal, those rights will be shared equally with the publisher. If a songwriter wants to hold onto the rights, they might want to simply sign an administration deal where the publisher merely takes care of business, including all of the paperwork, but usually does not share in all of the rights.

There are songwriters themselves who hold onto their publishing and act as their own publishers. But, generally, that only works if they're so well established that people come to them for songs.

A good publisher knows how much to pitch a song, how much to charge for various licenses and where to look for money, especially in the foreign market. They will know how to exploit each source of income so that the songwriter can make as much as possible from a single song.

If you release a disc with cover songs on it and then try to obtain proper licensing after the fact, you're possibly subject to penalties and/or prosecution for copyright infringement. Always investigate the ownership of the publishing rights to whatever song it is that you are going to release. You can find this information through the various Performance Rights organizations, BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc.

Here's an interesting legal fact: Once a song has been commercially released by an artist, that artist's song may be re-recorded and released by anyone who chooses to do so. This holds true, provided that the melody/lyric isn't substantially altered in the "cover" version, and that they pay proper fees/royalties directly to the song's copyright holder.

The fee that you pay the Harry Fox Agency is actually an advance that you are paying the agency against any future sales of your release. The license itself only costs about $10.00. There is also a $10.00 up charge, a one-time fee from the agency.

Artists who wish to get booked should have a list of their accomplishments to present to a booker. The booker needs to see your promotional kit. The promo kit contains a cover letter, a bio, a photo, a selection of press clips, possibly a Fact Sheet, and, of course, a CD (CDR) or tape of your music.

For single releases, mechanical royalties are paid equally for the "A" Side (the song that is sent to radio stations and marked as the probable hit) and the "B" Side (a song that the buyer is probably not familiar with). Therefore, the writer of the hit song and the writer of the unknown song receive the same amount of money for the sale of each single. Although this may not seem fair, you should know that the writer of the hit will earn the bulk of his income from performance royalties.

Payment is made per unit. A "unit" refers to one recording of a song on an audiocassette, CD, or record, whether it's an album or a single. Each song included on an album is considered one unit. If you are lucky enough to have written 10 songs on an album, you will be paid for 10 units for each album sold.

All publishing companies will have a royalty department. The royalty department is responsible for checking the royalty statements that come in from music users, making sure that the proper amounts are being remitted, and crediting all monies to the proper songs. In general, they ensure that all writers and other income participants are paid correctly. They are also responsible for income tracking, and following up with any company that has either not paid or paid incorrectly.

Most major publishing companies will have a foreign department. The foreign department is responsible for notifying a company's representatives throughout the world of new record releases, motion picture, home video and television uses so that songs can be registered with the local performance and mechanical rights societies. They will also oversee the signings of new writers or recording artists, ownership percentages of songs controlled, and the acquisition of catalogs, as well as answering any inquiries received from foreign territories concerning the compositions in the catalogue.

The Copyright Department is responsible for the proper registration of compositions with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C., the providing of correct copyright notices for all print and record usages. They are also responsible for the proper registration of songs with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC to ensure that radio, Internet and television broadcasts as well as other performances of songs are monitored. In addition to this, they do the necessary filing of copyright renewals. There is also a wide range of other responsibilities all related to the protection of musical compositions in a company's catalogue.