3 Start Thinking So you ve just written what you consider to be a song with hit potential. How do you go about getting it published? 2. What makes a successful song?
4 Define the songwriter s market. Chapter Goals Gain awareness of the events usually necessary for a good song to achieve success in the marketplace. Identify a songwriter s sources for potential income. Discover a writer s publishing options. Learn how to evaluate publishers competence and integrity. Discover how an unknown songwriter might break in and establish a professional career.
5 The Market The Good News: Songs are the fuel that powers the global music business machine, and frequent fill-ups are essential. New media has expanded new product s o audience o commercial demand
6 The Market The Bad News: only fraction of songwriters find acceptance even fewer will build sustainable careers Why? lack of ability lack of desire or willingness to work hard over-saturated market So, how do you stand out amid the clutter?
7 Predictors of Success A good song doesn t always mean it s a hit song: A hit song = significant radio airplay + sales A good song = well crafted music + lyrics Song criteria changed since the Beatles. Now: songs incorporate various styles songs straddle multiple genres audience tastes not easily predictable trends are born (and die) fast
8 Predictors of Success Good songs exhibit the following general criteria: 1. The song is memorable; it has a hook 2. The song has immediate appeal 3. The lyrics contain an overall theme and employ vivid phrases or imagery 4. The song is well crafted and exhibits an arc
9 Predictors of Success A hit song involves these additional elements (outside the songwriter s control): 1. The song gets an appealing initial performance, hopefully recorded by a well-known performer 2. The record company gets behind the project and promotes strong airplay 3. The song and the recording suit the taste of the current market 4. The recording is distributed effectively throughout the country
10 The Craft How do you learn to write good songs? learn the craft through formal study read how-to books pay for private instruction examine the internal workings of 100 leading standards be open to advice o don t become discouraged o don t take one opinion as gospel o listen for recurring patterns of advice
11 The Craft: Collaboration If you re a composer: find a lyricist If you re a lyricist: find a composer No formula for locating a collaborator: network get the word out contact performance rights organization offices check local clubs place an ad never pay individuals or publishers to collaborate!
12 The Craft: Collaboration Coauthors must have written agreement before approaching publishers answer all possible legal questions be warned if there s no room for compromise
13 The Craft: Copyright Registration Some writers only register when song is used and will collect royalties Others register all songs upon completion only disadvantage = fees
14 The Business of Writing Anyone who aspires to a songwriting career must treat the job as a business A writer is only successful if the songs are exploited Promotion requires commitment
15 The Business of Writing From Tin Pan Alley to the Brill Building songwriting = 9 5 job Tin Pan Alley 1950s focused on writing hit songs compartmentalized roles the Brill Building 1960s singer/songwriter concept embraced
16 The Business of Writing... to the Home Studio Today singer/songwriter = industry mainstay Job description highly flexible environment pace promotion
17 The Business of Writing The Performer s Dual Role Many writers begin as performers, especially in bands particularly true in rock, folk, and country music performers make inroads by co-writing with band members already under label contract Where to draw the line between disciplines? songwriter showcasing songs or performer first and foremost
18 Mechanical royalties Income Sources Income From a Recording Performance royalties Synchronization fees Bottom line for songwriters write, then write some more! get published regularly
19 Income Sources Income From a Recording
20 Income Sources Performance Royalties and New Revenue Streams Performance royalties for any broadcast or performance income can equal or surpass mechanical royalties collected by affiliated PRO
21 Income Sources Income From a Recording
22 Income Sources Performance Royalties and New Revenue Streams Other income sources sheet music MP3 downloads video downloads satellite radio Internet radio digital subscription services cell phone ringtones
23 Publishing Options 1. Writer can sign contract with established publisher 2. Writer can negotiate copublishing contract with established publisher 3. Writer can set up publishing company 4. Personal manager or attorney may administer writer s publishing company 5. Writer can enter into partnership or set up corporation 6. Writer can take staff job at established publisher
24 Publishing Options Staff Writers A Rarity Full time staff earnings are treated as advanced royalty payments Work made for hire Song doctors
25 Publishing Options Label Affiliated Deals Singer/songwriter = attractive prospect to publisher artist earns writer royalties + artist royalties publisher need not convince recording artist to use songs publisher may pressure writer to sign away publishing rights in order to get recording contract Singer/songwriter does have royalty downside controlled composition clause
26 Evaluating Publishers Writer not signed to record label publishing arm has two options: set up a publishing company sign with independent publisher Cautiously evaluate publisher offers Are they really a publisher or are they simply functioning as a collection agency?
27 Evaluating Publishers 1. What is the publisher s reputation for integrity? 2. How good is the firm s leadership? 3. What is the firm s long-term track record? 4. Is the company making money? 5. Who in the company cares about you and your material? 6. What are the firm s resources? 7. If your songs hit, does the company understand the print business and licensing options? 8. If your songs hit, does the company understand licensing abroad? 9. If your songs hit, does the company have experience in negotiating the whole range of digital uses?
28 The Songwriters Guild of America The Songwriters Guild of America Contract Weighted heavily in favor of the songwriter Many publisher refuse to sign it, but it is good to use as negotiating tool
29 The Songwriters Guild of America The Songwriters Guild of America Contract 1. The writer warrants that the composition is the writer s sole, exclusive, and original work. 2. If the publisher agrees to pay an advance, it will be provided in the agreement, and the advance will be recoupable from the writer s royalties. 3. Royalties on printed editions are not less than 10% of the wholesale selling price on the first 200,000 copies sold in the United States and Canada, not less than 12% on sales in excess of 200,000, and not less than 15% on sales in excess of 500, The publisher pays the writer 50% of the publisher s receipts from all sources outside the United States and Canada.
30 The Songwriters Guild of America The Songwriters Guild of America Contract 5. The writer shares with the publisher on income derived from all other sources. The publisher may discount any payments made to a collecting agent. 6. The publisher must obtain the writer s consent before granting use of the composition in a movie, broadcast commercial, or dramatico-musical presentation or for any other new use. 7. The writer s royalties must be held in trust by the publisher and not used for any other purpose. 8. If the publisher fails to get a commercial recording of the composition within 1 year, the contract terminates. But the writer may grant an extension of 6 months, providing the publisher pays the writer $250.
31 The Songwriters Guild of America The Songwriters Guild of America Contract 9. The publisher must print and offer for sale regular piano copies or provide such copies or leadsheets to the writer. 10. The publisher must pay the writer 50% of foreign advances received by the publisher on a single song or a group of songs by the same writer. 11. The term (length) of the contract may be for any number of years but not more than 40 years or 35 years from the date of first release of a commercial sound recording of the composition, whichever term ends earlier, unless this contract is sooner terminated in accordance with the provisions hereof. 12. When the contract terminates, the publisher revests in the writer all rights in the composition.
32 The Songwriters Guild of America The Songwriters Guild of America Contract 13. The publisher supplies a royalty statement at least every 6 months. The writer may demand an audit of the publisher s books upon supplying appropriate notice. 14. All disputes between the parties are to be submitted to arbitration under the rules of the American Arbitration Association. 15. The publisher may not assign (transfer or sell to another publisher) the contract without the writer s consent (except on the sale of a full catalog). 16. The writer and publisher must agree on future use the exploitation of a composition in a manner not yet contemplated and therefore not specifically covered by the contract.
33 Contract Reassignment or Default Reassignment common sale of first publisher s catalog merger assigned to subsidiary or affiliated company writer must demand written statement of transfer of obligations
34 Contract Reassignment or Default Default could be for following reasons: publisher s inability to get the song recorded the royalty statements are incorrect or incomplete publisher can t come up with royalty payments when they are due publisher becomes overburdened working on other properties
35 Contract Reassignment or Default Writer s options after chance for cure: arbitration break contract unilaterally file lawsuit asking to be released from contract send letter of termination to publisher
36 Breaking In Seven Steps to Success 1. Find out if the talent is there 2. Know your craft 3. Have professional leadsheets, lyric sheets, demos 4. Focus promotion efforts on specific market 5. Promote songs in own locale 6. Promote through networking 7. Be relentless
37 Demo = calling card Breaking In Demonstration Recordings Choose five best songs Vocals must be heard above music Piano or guitar = minimum accompaniment Well labeled and all information included Demos may be recorded again once the writer further along in the publishing process
38 Breaking In Local Promotion Start with professional performers in your area Contact local radio station Post your music on social networking sites Meet with traveling performers Don t rule out small publishers Contact local ad agencies
39 Breaking In Promotion by Mail and Study record charts to find publishers handling your style of music Get contact details Verify contact person by phone Write letter/ requesting permission to send demo
40 Breaking In Direct Contact With Publishers Visit New York, Nashville, Los Angeles Make an appointment If you are granted a meeting, write a thank-you note afterward
41 Breaking In Network, Network, and Then Network Some More Industry connections and contacts are key Contact local ASCAP or BMI rep Attend workshops Enter contests Move to songwriting hub city
42 For Further Thought Why would you bother to have a written agreement with a songwriting collaborator if you ve never published a song? 2. What added opportunities for marketing and promotion does today s songwriter enjoy? How could these best be exploited? 3. How should a songwriter react to a publisher s proposal to deliver a work-for-hire?
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