Publishing/song writing $$$$ advice...

kwalitykwality 620 Posts
edited August 2007 in Strut Central
So I've written some songs for an album that's just been signed. It's a major label so they're talking 60k for the album and the same for a video. My question is what should I be looking for when it comes time to talk dollars? I've heard enough to know that publishing is where it's at, so I won't be giving that up but what should I expect in other areas? Is it a given that if you hold onto your publishing they don't offer any money?I don't wanna come across as a money grubbing shark, but I've put alot of time and effort into it and I'd like to know what to expect. So drop some knowledge on me please!!!

  Comments


  • Rich45sRich45s 327 Posts
    http://www.bemuso.com/musicdiy/songwriting.html#usingamusicpublisher

    This whole sites good, but UK'centric. The information you would need is linked to

    This may be better for your needs,

    http://www.amazon.com/Need-Know-About-Mu...88212068&sr=1-1

    Although I have heard supposed 'music industry types' say its overrated.

  • johmbolayajohmbolaya 4,472 Posts
    I'm sure others can add to this, but here is what I know from personal experience. When you sign with a label, you're doing it so they can "exploit" you, and it says so in the contract. You taking their money (or signing up for the hopes of *making* money) gives them permission to do what they have to do in order to make back that money. Plain and simple. That will include taking a cut of your publishing, which can be 50 percent, or it can be less. Keep in mind that they are going to do what you may not be able to do on your own, so you give and take.

    Also look into the terms of the publishing contract. Is it for two years? Five? Ten? The life of the song? Look into this because if the song is popular, and you'll want sole publishing in the future, look into this. There may be a chance that your song may get used in television and film in 20 years, and you can rake in what you feel you deserve.

    Look into getting your work in advertising, if you wish to go that route. There's never a time when I turn on the radio and NOT hear RJD2. Send your song to agents who may be able to use it in film, but if you are working with people who do this already, then monitor their progress.

    A lot of people use either BMI or ASCAP, but don't be afraid to seek publishing in Canada or the UK, which may help bring a few more opportunities your way.

  • can you elaborate on "i've written some songs that will be signed to a major label" does this mean you are the artist, wrote lyrics, producer? or what exactly. it would help me to understand what you did in order to advise. peace, stein. . .

  • kwalitykwality 620 Posts
    Sorry about that - yeah, I wrote the lyrics for three songs that are on the album - singles are up in the air so I'm not sure whether they will be album cuts or what. I helped out with the music but really I'm just concerned with the lyrics at this stage. I don't want to become another bitter statistic of the music biz because I didn't hold onto my work.

    I'm in Australia if that's any help.

  • I'm sure others can add to this, but here is what I know from personal experience. When you sign with a label, you're doing it so they can "exploit" you, and it says so in the contract. You taking their money (or signing up for the hopes of *making* money) gives them permission to do what they have to do in order to make back that money. Plain and simple. That will include taking a cut of your publishing, which can be 50 percent, or it can be less. Keep in mind that they are going to do what you may not be able to do on your own, so you give and take.

    Also look into the terms of the publishing contract. Is it for two years? Five? Ten? The life of the song? Look into this because if the song is popular, and you'll want sole publishing in the future, look into this. There may be a chance that your song may get used in television and film in 20 years, and you can rake in what you feel you deserve.

    Look into getting your work in advertising, if you wish to go that route. There's never a time when I turn on the radio and NOT hear RJD2. Send your song to agents who may be able to use it in film, but if you are working with people who do this already, then monitor their progress.

    A lot of people use either BMI or ASCAP, but don't be afraid to seek publishing in Canada or the UK, which may help bring a few more opportunities your way.


    These music agents that you speak of, are you referring to music agents or movie agents?

    is there a site that I can go to to check them out, like a database?

    peace

  • 1. register with bmi or ascap as a writer NOW! i use bmi.
    2. get a music lawyer to negotiate POINTS for sales/downloads.
    3. you should ask for AT LEAST $7500 advance for the songs you co-wrote.
    4. its too early in the game to worry about getting a good publishing or publishing
    administration deal.
    5. $120,000 is what i would consider a MASSIVE record deal in australia.
    6. register with bmi or ascap as a writer NOW!


    peace, stein. . .

    what kind of music is the project?

  • kwalitykwality 620 Posts
    Cheers man, much appreciated. I've signed up with APRA and I'll sort out bmi or ascap today. So what you're saying is worry more about an advance and points rather than publishing? Is that because my track record is unproven and I'll just have to hope someone pays attention and offers publishing after that? For what it's worth they were written entirely by me, so I don't think they're gonna try and turn it into a co-written situation, although I'm ready for shadiness.

    As far as the project, it's pretty much a pop record with elements of soul/funk/jazz. The singer is a minor celebrity here so they're hoping it'll be big with the ladies.

  • DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
    1. register with bmi or ascap as a writer NOW! i use bmi.

    Hey 'Stein, out of curiosity, how does your publishing get handled? I'm registered with BMI as a writer, but there's nothing in there about publishing, nor is there any info about it that I can find on BMI's site. Does BMI even get involved with publishing, or is that an entirely separate entity?

    Not a huge deal for me as I'm not exactly moving truckloads of records, but better safe than sorry.

  • 1. register with bmi or ascap as a writer NOW! i use bmi.

    Hey 'Stein, out of curiosity, how does your publishing get handled? I'm registered with BMI as a writer, but there's nothing in there about publishing, nor is there any info about it that I can find on BMI's site. Does BMI even get involved with publishing, or is that an entirely separate entity?

    Not a huge deal for me as I'm not exactly moving truckloads of records, but better safe than sorry.

    two different things. bmi collects WRITER SHARE royalties when your music is played on radio, in movies etc. your statement should tell you EXACTLY where your composition was used.

    your publishing company collects the same stuff for the PUBLISHER SHARE of royalties when your music is played on radio, in movies, sold etc.

    peace, stein. . .


  • Cheers man, much appreciated. I've signed up with APRA and I'll sort out bmi or ascap today. So what you're saying is worry more about an advance and points rather than publishing? Is that because my track record is unproven and I'll just have to hope someone pays attention and offers publishing after that? For what it's worth they were written entirely by me, so I don't think they're gonna try and turn it into a co-written situation, although I'm ready for shadiness.

    As far as the project, it's pretty much a pop record with elements of soul/funk/jazz. The singer is a minor celebrity here so they're hoping it'll be big with the ladies.

    publishing deals are all based on speculation. if you think this project is going to be big in the u.k. as well it may be a good idea to shop for a publishing deal in the
    u.k. if you dont care about making a huge chunk of money immediately i would at least suggest getting in touch with http://www.mushroommusic.com.au/ and talk to them about doing a publishing administration deal with you in which they will take 10% of your royalties in return for doing all the hard work for you. either way you need to get a music lawyer. they will better advise you on all this. peace, stein. . .

  • kwalitykwality 620 Posts
    Thanks man, you've obviously been through all this stuff. The thing about it is I'm broke as a joke right now and could do with some cash, but I'd love to do it right and set myself up properly. I mean I wrote these songs in half an hour while working full time and producing on the side, so I'd love to have the opportunity to really go for it and do it with others, rather than just do this once. It seems like I'd better call a music lawyer either way.

    Any aussie heads know any? Would it be stupid to use the same music lawyer as the singer? At the end of the day he is a friend but I know how business sometimes goes.

  • izm707izm707 1,107 Posts
    I don't wanna to crush your dreams, but i you wrote ONE song, it might not be enough to worry about publishing anyway. You're talking about 60k for a budget, that's a tiny budget. If that's the global budget, marketing included, you're fucked!!!! Meaning they don't have THAT kind of money to make you a decent offer. At least not as much as you expect. Unless you wrote for Celine Dion or Kelly Clarkson, you won't generate enough royalties to worry about a publishing deal. In any case, it would be a publishing deal specific for USA. And my friend, one song gets you nowhere. You won't even find a decent lawyer to care about your stuffs. They will charge you big bucks for readings. You don't need that, specially if you're broke.
    What you can do, depending on who you're dealing with, is to offer to compensate the loss of your publishing and sell it for a decent amount of money. That's one thing you CAN do at least, even tho' you dont want it. You heard that's where the money is at, but somebody forgot to tell you HOW to get it and the price to pay to get it. Plus, if you're a rookie in publishing, the people in front of you can see that clearly. And once people know you don't know enough about publishing, they may talk to your devil side and make you believe all sort of things. With that said, you will still have to lower your expectations as far as money goes.
    But all that is cheap talk unless you tell me with WHO you're dealing with. Like what artist, what company, what A&R, what publishers if any, etc. This is crucial to have a good diagnosis. Publishing is a tricky world. I'm a publisher since 2005 so i've encounter many tough situations with publishing. Maybe keep this convo through PM. I won't drop science right here, rigth now...lol.

  • kwalitykwality 620 Posts
    Cheers man, I'm not looking to buy a house with it or anything, I just don't wanna regret anything in the future. To be honest I don't actually know what to expect, that's why I'm begging for some wisdom. And I wrote three songs on the album - it's not amazing but I know they've gotten strong feedback from the label and I'd like the chance to do more. I'll pm you with as many specifics as I have.

  • izm707izm707 1,107 Posts
    yea do that...

  • just out of curiosity for other strutters, especially indie artists...

    do any of you get any decent money from ascap? I get the random small amounts here and there, but I feel like I am missing out on something. I know the kind of music I do doesn't really get airplay, but I have had some stuff licensed and the amounts I get on the performance end are always tiny. I have all of my songs registered with ascap. I have a publishing and writing account. I just wonder if I have them registered incorrectly. Probably not.

    I need to step up into the big world. Instrumental music isn't bringing in the publishing money, unless I get a commercial, which hasn't happened.

  • izm707izm707 1,107 Posts
    I would like to answer you fully, but i'm from France and our ASCAP equivalent (SACEM) may not function the same way for everything. I make a decent living off of royalties. It's actually my main souce of income (aruond 50K a year). But when i started (1998) it wasn't like that. There's a period during which you won't make much money. It can last up to 5 years or so. Once you have accumulated enough songs, enough credibility in this field, then you can go for the "dirty bizness" as you call it.
    The thing with publishing is if you don't know about it, people will not learn you about it. They will take advantage of it. Always. It's a rule in this bizness that won't disappear. So the best bet for you is to read some books first. Knowledges. Then meet up with people working in the publishing bizness (like myself, but in your country) and be ready for a long ride.
    You said "the kind of music i do doesnt get airplay". Which kind is it. How many songs we are talking about? any mainstream artist? Did you fill out ASCAP sheets your self? Do you have a lawyer? What do you know about override and such?

  • bobbydeebobbydee 849 Posts
    Cheers man, I'm not looking to buy a house with it or anything, I just don't wanna regret anything in the future. To be honest I don't actually know what to expect, that's why I'm begging for some wisdom. And I wrote three songs on the album - it's not amazing but I know they've gotten strong feedback from the label and I'd like the chance to do more. I'll pm you with as many specifics as I have.

    I got totally ass-fucked by an Australian jazz singer who I used to be good friends with (we were doing music in Uni together) over some songs I'd given to her for some advice on.

    She's never cracked it big, but tours alot and under the wing of an established artist here, has sold 2 of my songs to shitty pop singers for decent dough. Not retire in barbados money but definately not pocket change.

    Thankfully nothing has really come of one of them, and the other disappeared fairly quickly.

  • johmbolayajohmbolaya 4,472 Posts
    These music agents that you speak of, are you referring to music agents or movie agents?
    Both.


    is there a site that I can go to to check them out, like a database?
    I'm sure there is a site or forum, but I don't know of one.

  • It's actually my main souce of income (aruond 50K a year).


    I do sample based instrumental stuff, so I shouldn't even really be talking about publishing. I'm just curious if other people are getting cake off of it. I've had some songs run on tv shows, but then the publishing side will be about $30.

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    Sorry about that - yeah, I wrote the lyrics for three songs that are on the album - singles are up in the air so I'm not sure whether they will be album cuts or what. I helped out with the music but really I'm just concerned with the lyrics at this stage. I don't want to become another bitter statistic of the music biz because I didn't hold onto my work.

    I'm in Australia if that's any help.

    Get in touch with APRA and AMCOS, then. Somebody there should be able to walk you through whatever issues you need help with. The first thing I'd suggest you do is to get something in writing between you and your co-writers concerning the actual share divisions of the songs you've written. If you've written the lyrics, it's generally accepted practice that you will own 50% of the song on a 50/50 music/lyrics basis. If there's more than two writers, then sometimes people will split the publishing equally if that's the way they've decided to do things. However, you do need to get that shit straight as early as possible because it prevents any arguments about who wrote what if the record turns out to be a hit. It's also good from the p.o.v. of getting a publishing deal because publishers will often structure an advance based on your total ownership of whatever songs you have up for offer.

    As if it needed to be said, don't sign anything without letting a lawyer see it first, ideally one with music industry/entertainment law experience.

    EDIT: OK, I see you're ahead of me there. Good move hooking up with APRA. I should add that things like record company budgets and such should have no effect on the value of your publishing, which would be handled by a publisher and not a record company. Stein's point about shopping round for an admin deal is a good one, as these tend to be comparatively short-term deals, in which you get your songs back a lot sooner. It's also good in that, if you build up a strong and active catalogue of songs, then that remains an asset with which you can shop around for a better deal as and when your admin deal terminates.

    You might also want to consider something like an SSA (single-song assignment) deal, whereby you sign specific songs to a publisher, rather than tying yourself into a long-term deal where you're expected to deliver or place a certain number of songs in each option period in order to get the next chunk of your advance. With SSAs, the publisher will generally want more favourable terms of ownership on their side, but they may be prepared to offer a little more in order to get the songs.

    Don't rush into anything, either. Sometimes it's wiser to wait and see how the record does before you sign a deal; DMX didn't do a world-wide publishing deal until his third album, by which time his songs were worth a lot more in publishing terms. Not saying you need to wait that long, obviously, but if the record's a hit locally, then you'll find that publishers will probably seek you out and make you an offer anyway.

  • kwalitykwality 620 Posts
    Cheers for the advice all - I've signed up with APRA and spoken with a friends music lawyer who's happy to help out. Hopefully it'll all work out and I won't be signing anything till it's kosher. I'm meeting up with the singer soon so we'll get everything in writing then and I'll keep writing songs in the meantime. I'm really hoping that everything works out okay - I'll keep you posted, and I hope it's not the same person bobby!

  • izm707izm707 1,107 Posts
    Maybe i need to precise that i've helped to sell more than 2 millions units in my country. Of course with verious artists. And we are talking about a few gold and one plat participation. So 50K is not much if you had my resume. The same resume in U.S. would get me around 100K a year. But the publishing is a bit different in France...And we have royalties breaks and overrides like crazy.
    Also, i do sample-based stuffs, but that's obvioucly not the kind of music i make the more money with. Beat placements for movies, TV shows and commercials is where it is at. And more recently, mobile phone materials. That's where my cake also comes from. In 2005 i started my first scoring job for a major french movie. That helped a lot. On top of that, i also have a bunch of writers and composers i can work with to shape up different kind of "orders" from A&Rs i'm in contact with. Making beats alone is not a lucrative activity. Product placement is...And of course, when you get the opportunity to appear on some big time project, avois sample-based stuffs and bring your own compositions of you want to see more cheese...lol.
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