Music Business Primer

(to get you PRIMED!)

(And to Keep You Out Of Trouble!)


[To Contents]

Here is a copy of a booklet of helpful advice concerning the music business that I wrote a while ago. It was written in response to my perception that too many musicians are going into the music world with too many wrong ideas and definitions. And, of course, there are endless confusions about copyright laws. Hopefully, this document will do much to dispel the clouds of confusion that have caused many a musician to lose a whole lot of money! And, that it provides an interesting and colorful review of things-as-they-are for the veterans as well. As I do keep updating this, any contributions would be both appreciated AND credited! I hope this document is a source of a lot of help to people entering the murky waters of the Music Business with the intent to swim!

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Songwriters Guild of America

We all benefit when we share our experiences and advice with others to help them along their way. And it hones our own clarity of insight to make us better at what we do as well, and ...who knows? The person you help may become the next president of Sony Records someday or something!


Music Business Info Book
© Copyright 1995-97, Terry Leigh Britton

Here are a few highlights from a seminar I've been preparing for, to save participants pencil lead, being a set of pre written notes. Enjoy, and remember, Rome wasn't actually built (past tense). So, take your time.

CONTENTS:

©copyright realities – copyright from moment of authorship
registering vs. poor man's copyright – the control issue
registering a group of songs at once – the "collection" title copyright
the copyright notice – ©1995, Terry Leigh Britton
demo tape protection for the nervous - labeling the cassette tape
addendum to the Copyright section:
What a publisher does
What a print publisher does
What a record company does
What (if you need one) a personal manager does
What an agent does
what a producer does
ideal contracts
film and TV soundtrack work-for-hire
film and TV soundtracks/themes with royalties
being a business entity as an individual /as a band
the band members' contract
goal setting, sub goals, planning, timetables and scheduling
composer(s)' performance rights agencies – BMI, ASCAP, SESAC
mechanical rights – The Harry Fox Agency
performers and performance copyrights and other copyright stuff
getting paid as a band – the door vs. salary vs. % of bar
the local band – contracts with club and hotel owners
taxes and musicians/composers
your bookkeeper
your entertainment lawyer – choosing a lawyer
helpful organizations
Good Books To Read (list compiled by the people at BMI)
DEMO TAPE RELEASE FORM
After word and disclaimer
If you have comments or suggestions, email me at: tbritton@gmail.com


Music Business Info Book

©copyright realities – copyright from moment of authorship

Contrary to popular myths concerning copyright, a creation is considered legally protected from the very moment of authorship, with authorship defined as the moment that the work is set down in some permanent form. All the stories you've heard — that if you don't write the copyright notice on the tape then it's not protected...that you MUST register with the US Copyright Office...that if you forget to write the notice on your demo tape, then anyone can legally steal your work — all this is pure hogwash! If it ever came down to your having to prove someone stole your work, you will need to demonstrate 3 things: you must prove that you were the FIRST to author such work and that the works are, without a doubt, SIMILAR; that the other person had ACCESS to your work and thus was capable of stealing it; and that either of these things MATTERS enough to require some kind of settlement seeking action on your part (that last one is mine!) And, could you afford to lose the case?

registering vs. doorman's copyright – the control issue

The old trick of mailing a tape by REGISTERED mail to yourself is a valid manner of registering the copyright of your work. But here's the issue if you simply mail the tape to yourself -- if the matter ever did get to court, rest assured that the first thing that will come out of the opposing lawyers mouth will be a challenge for you to prove CONTROL over that envelope – that is, that in no-way could someone have steamed open the envelope, altered its contents, and resealed it. Not even someone at the Post Office!! This challenge has shot down case after case. Better would be to mail it to your lawyer to place in a safe deposit box for you, or just break down and spend the money on the US Copyright Office (best). If you must cheap it out, read the next item.

registering a group of songs at once – the "collection" title copyright

You can place a number of songs on the same cassette tape and then register it as a collection, by naming the 'title' something like "Collected Works I, by Alfred E. Jones, 1995", then listing the songs by number on a __/CONtinuation form. If you do use the poor man's copyright, or the mailed-to-lawyer-to-put-in-safety-deposit-box technique (but don't), be sure that you remember to write on the back of the envelope the names of what songs you have on that tape, so you never get in the position of having to open envelopes to locate a song! Otherwise, use US Copyright Office form PA and follow the instructions above on that form. (see addendum).

the copyright notice – © 1995, Terry Leigh Britton

Some books would have you adding things to your copyright notice that aren't necessary. For instance, I've seen it told that the words "All Rights Reserved" had to be present in order for a copyright to be valid in the USA. Absolutely not so! Also, I've seen it written that if you were so foolish as to FORGET to include any copyright notice to your tapes, that the work would be INSTANTLY considered Public Domain – that is, you would have just given your work away to be freely used by whoever wanted to use it for whatever purpose they may have, with no need to license it from you. ABSOLUTE HOGWASH! The notice does not have to be placed on your tapes at all! (since March 1,1989.) It is done as a way of giving historical reference to the work as to by whom and when it was composed. In fact, on a recording of your works as a demo or any other recording, the circled- P followed by the date and your name is actually more correct (standing as a quaint reference to that ancient medium, the phonograph record. CDs, tapes, CD-ROMs — they're all phonorecords to the copyright office!) See the addendum yet?

demo tape protection for the nervous - labeling the cassette tape

If you are, however, the nervous, slightly paranoid type of musician which the industry's record for ethical behavior has spawned over the last few decades, here's the thing to do: I always like to give the cassette itself a title, as if it were an album title, but that's up to you and is not needed for protection. Naturally, put the album title first. Whether or not you included a title for the cassette, label the tape itself with the P in a circle , the date, and your name. It is a demo tape, so don't forget to include your phone number, with the area code, also. (If you can fit your address on there, then do that, too! (–use several label stickers or have your labels printed (best))) Then write on the cassette box's J-card insert: the title, the P in a circle, the date, and your name--followed by the list of song titles. Follow EACH song title with the C in a circle © followed by the date and your name and/or the name of the actual author; your co-writer(s); and, if applicable, your publisher's name, since these people all own a part of the copyright — hopefully whose percent-shares are spelled out in writing somewhere! Again, be sure to include your name, address and phone number, with the area code, if this is a demo tape. For total coverage, see the sample contract & the following!

addendum to the Copyright section:

1) Think of the P in a circle like this: the 'P' stands for 'Piracy Protection' – it applies in conjunction with your rights as spelled out on form PA (performing arts) covering you for the song and/or lyrics you wrote, and on form SR (sound recording), which protects that RENDITION or recording of a song from being reproduced and sold by someone unauthorized to do so. Like a composer or lyricist's copyright protection for music and lyrics, Sound Recording protection is automatic upon placing the recording into its final form on a master. But, for court purposes, that rendition (i.e., a copy of the master) may optionally also be registered using form SR. Your record company would likely register their masters using the SR form (since they usually have ownership of the masters for some period as part of their contract with you) to insure the full litigation power that official registration affords them against piracy. Unless you are famous, though, I wouldn't suggest concerning yourself with piracy of your demos ever happening. So, you needn't necessarily spend the additional $30 to register the 'sound' of the demo tape as well as the works contained in it, unless perhaps the whole album consists of covers of other people's tunes and you want total security. For your information, in a piracy lawsuit, both the owner of the renditions AND the owner of authorship of the underlying work (the songs) would be taking the pirate to court.

By the way, if you are the type of person who waits until the final recording of the master before registering your copyrights with the US Copyright Office -- not necessarily out of laziness or chagrin or nonchalance, but because you might be one of the new breed of electronic musicians for whom the style of performance and the presentation (sounds used, etc.) are an inseparable PART of the composition -- well, you don't have to file both the PA and SR forms! Filing the SR form alone is adequate, covering both the authorship of the material and the rendition(s) at the same time. A Collection copyright, as described above, is still OK as long as the material is not distributed before the time of the filing -- but check on the particulars by going over the form on the phone with a Copyright Information Specialist at the US Copyright Office. He or she will give you all the help you need for FREE, at (202) 707-5959. Isn't that great?

2) Clarification: there are 3 things you can register with the US Copyright Office.

If you are registering just your song's music and lyrics, using form PA, you would include just one copy of a tape, whether published or unpublished, and this adequately covers your songs and lyrics. (For unpublished new works, you can use the "collections" title registration technique. If a song becomes published, you needn't re-register it, but you do have to send two tapes in an envelope to the US Copyright Office for them to give to the Library of Congress. See this repeated several times below...)

If you are registering sheet music - that is, a melody and/or lyric sheet - then you register with one copy of the sheet music for unpublished songs and two copies for published songs.

For a Sound Recording (form SR) registration, you would include one copy of the tape whether published or unpublished.

Published means basically that multiple copies are made and are distributed (whether sold or handed out free doesn't matter) to the public - though mere broadcast of your music does not constitute publishing: only the actual physical distribution does. You may consider yourself a self publisher if you are manufacturing your own copies at home on your dual cassette deck and selling them or making them available to the public. If you are doing that, you still register song and lyric authorship the normal way, with the one copy sent to the US Copyright Office with form PA, and if you're the very cautious type, another copy sent along with form SR and another $30. However, the "mandatory deposit requirement" of the copyright law requires any published work to have two copies placed with the Library of Congress as well, and sticking two labeled copies of your tape into an envelope and mailing that envelope to the US Copyright Office fulfills this requirement (no form or even a letter is needed to accompany these two tapes). Filing your published sound recording via form SR provides optional, additional protection. If, however, you are only making ten copies or so as demo tapes to send to record companies, unless you think that the actual recording on that tape will become a distributed product, don't bother registering the SR form at all, being a waste of an additional $30, in my opinion. Registering the original songs that appear on that tape is what's really important, and form PA covers that. But if the uncopyrighted music on your demo is also a copy of the final finished product, use form SR only, as explained already above, to copyright both the compositions and the sound of the recording simultaneously (i.e., no form PA needed).

3) In a "collection" title copyright of unpublished new works, the only thing written in line 1, "Title", is the title of the collection, not the names of the songs in that collection — but this is not a problem. For your personal convenience, so that you have a record of what songs are in each collection, include a form __/CON, for 'continuation', along with the PA form (in this case, you fill in the blank as PA/CON), listing the actual song titles included in that collection there (but note that a collection is indexed in the 'Catalog of Copyright Entries' only under the collection title – big deal!). If a court or someone else ever needed proof of your authorship, you would simply get a copy of the tape with that collection from the US Copyright Office and play the song on it for them. Neat, huh?

4) Be aware that many, many courts won't regard the "Poor-Man's Copyright" envelopes as acceptable evidence in any way, shape, or manner, (or form...), depending completely upon the judge's discretion and/or his or her mood that day. Also, any copyright protection scheme BESIDES the registration with the US Copyright Office will not allow you to reclaim costs and fees incurred in bringing the other person to court, even if you win. For the $20 it costs to register an UNLIMITED number of unpublished works under the "collection" title copyright registration, you are poor indeed if you don't take advantage of this service. You don't have to re-register a work after it is published (but you do have to send in the two tapes in the envelope for the big Library of Congress depository, addressed to the US Copyright Office).

5) Although you don't have to have the "copyright notice" – the P in a circle , date, your name – on your DAT tape, CD or cassette demo, it is, nonetheless, advisable to do so. This is because certain extremely hard-nosed lawyers may try to claim "innocent infringement"; that is – that his or her client "did not realize that the work was protected". In other words, the client is saying, in effect, "It didn't SAY copyright on it! How was *I* supposed to know it was copyrighted?!?!? I'm just an innocent victim of a cruel world!!! (sob!)" This nauseating display could result in a reduction in damages that you as the copyright owner might otherwise receive. On a demo tape, where real-estate is crowded enough when trying to squeeze your name, address, and two phone numbers on the cassette, find room for a little P in a circle and the date following it (your name, I hope, is already on the tape!) And sleep, sleep, sleep well, tonight... and every night!

What a publisher does

I've heard people balk at the fact that a music publisher – if you can get one – wants a full fifty percent of any money that your copyrighted music brings in. Don't balk! The music publisher is the best friend your music has! His job is very involved, and beware of any self-proclaimed "music publisher" who doesn't deliver on all of these items: He represents your music to record companies, recording artists, international labels, film-makers, advertisers, television show producers, and on-and-on, working his tail off to make your music make both of you money. You should NEVER pay a music publisher (or be asked to do so) for services up-front – not any of his services. A genuine music publisher has contacts in the industry, knows how to network and negotiate for you, and will do all kinds of things to nurture you as a composer and/or songwriter. He will arrange meetings with people for you, including hookups with co-writers and/or lyricists; he will pay to have your demos produced and recorded (yes, HE will pay, not you). He knows the laws and the best contracts. He will go to bat for you, and inform you. Your music publisher is your biggest believer, and should be the best friend any composer or songwriter could ask for — supportive professionally and artistically. Finally, he will make sure that ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC (the performance rights people - see below for addresses) are paying what they should be, and will demand increases for you from them if he thinks they are too low. He will also make sure that you are paid according to contractual agreements on mechanical royalties through the Harry Fox Agency or a similar mechanical rights agency. He does all this to earn his fifty percent. You write songs and compositions. See?

What a print publisher does

Unlike the heavy representation to the industry that a music publisher does for you, the print music publisher does only what the name implies — he publishes printed copies of your music for distribution to music stores that sell sheet music. You most likely will not have to worry about dealing with these people, as your music publisher will pitch your stuff to the print music publisher as a way of expanding the income on your mutual copyrights as soon as he thinks of it. But, he probably won't think of it until you have a hit record (or 3) and are a household word name. Sheet music sales of individual songs are limited to hits and so-called 'future standards', but sometimes your stuff could wind up in a collection (Hits from the 90's!) Concentrate on making-it, first. [The SGA contract includes a provision requiring piano scores be generated – I'd modify that clause, unless your mom really wants the sheet music.]

What a record company (i.e., a "Label") does

More than anything else, a record company is responsible for distribution of your recorded works. Nowadays, they aren't always even the manufacturers of the product they distribute. More and more often, the musicians are paying for their own packaging, mastering, and manufacturing to keep costs lower (although naturally the record company would LOVE to handle all this for you — and take their cut off the top!!) Many so-called "Labels" abound in every locality, but most are really only acting as jobbers, wanting to take that percentage off-the-top to oversee the manufacture and packaging of your work. Check to see what kind of savvy they have concerning distribution channels and public relations and marketing. After all, if you don't have the exposure you need, your recordings will not be sold to anybody! Again, independent public relations and artist marketing and publicity firms abound, and are even used by artists who have a "real" record company's support, to supplement that support. There are even companies, who work for the big boys as well as the independents, who do the all-important "schmoozing with the 'jocks" to get you that essential radio air play (and video air play, if you go that route). So, since all these services can be gotten independent of a big label, the real test of a record label is whether they can get your product into the music stores! Of course, if they can also loan you a bunch of money to do all this other stuff with, that also might be the mark of a real label, since financing all of this is also something generally expected from a label. Just remember — financing is money loaned! You will have to pay it back from the royalties collected on sales from your products. Many formats exist for negotiating HOW that money will be paid back. If the record company believes in you, they will agree to spread out the payback over two or more album releases, so that you will see some money coming in during the first album's sales period. (Otherwise, you wait till they get their money before you see a single $1.35! [...assuming 9 tunes to be originals, approximately 60¢-plus-75¢ royalties per unit sold]). See below on picking a lawyer!

What (if you need one) a personal manager does

A REAL personal manager is harder to find than a music publisher. Such a person will have a track record of classy names that they represent, and will offer a roster of services sounding quite similar to those of a music publisher, except that they also will help you choose your clothes to wear on stage (an image consultant would provide the same service), help you with your stage presence and show (a producer/director hired temp can do this better, probably), manage your finances (an accountant and bookkeeper is cheaper and better here) — in fact, he might manage to take twenty percent or more (much more) of your finances for himself, and have little to show for it! A real personal manager can be a big push for your career, because a real one will have been nurturing contacts and building trust in the industry for years, and thus will have a good reputation. But, frankly, you really don't need one. The same services can be provided to you — without having to sign away a percentage of your income for the rest of your natural life (and perhaps beyond) — by freelance and independent service providers. Consider both options, but if you do find yourself leaning towards the personal manager route (out of laziness) then please, SHOP CAREFULLY! And get references.

What an agent does

An agent books your act in appropriate venues to promote your music, your performance, and your product line. These venues may be coliseums or 50 seat nightclubs. That depends on your act and the level of promotion that you are at. A good agent is hard to find, but easier to find than a music publisher or personal manager (neither of whom are expected to perform an agent's role). Again, get references, and contact those references for input. An agent will expect 15 to (lately) 20 percent of what you get paid to perform, but will not be attached to any income from any other sources, such as your record sales or soundtrack work. (That money goes to the music publisher and record company, unless you were lazy and hired a personal manager, too). Your contract should specify some kind of easy–out for you in case you wind up playing ONLY sleazy bars in little towns where tumbleweeds are as big as Mac trucks! Once in a while, that's OK, sure, but...

If you're just getting started and no agent is interested in you right now, talk a girl friend or boy friend of some member of the band into becoming your booking agent for you, and pay them 15 percent like a good business entity should. Have a written contract with this person, stating terms and conditions, and some easy out for the band should you wind up playing ONLY sleazy bars (in little towns where, etc.). Armed with a few phone books with yellow pages at the library and an unlimited expense account on their telephone (but insist that you SEE the phone bill!), anyone can make arrangements for club owners or coliseum event producers to receive your beautiful PR kit (which should consist of a well packaged live demo tape on Dolby less chrome cassette, a glossy photo of the band, a bio of each member, a resume of the band's activities, a reference list, and prices – see also: The Local Band – Contracts with Bar Owners). Build up a hefty Rolodex file, and remember to RETURN to any club where you were well received preferably once a month, or at least every two months! That is more valuable than any mailing list. Your following is your future, and your real resume! Regularly pulling big, big crowds into a clubs is very impressive to record execs! You want to impress these people.

what a producer does

The producer is hired by the band, publisher or recording company, and oversees that the quality of the recording is uniform. A good one will make each track jump out of the speakers as great sounding and unique, yet still be recognizable as being "your sound" — and they'll bring out the best in you and your performance. Pick carefully from among several producers! Audition their work! Don't sign-up the first one who says he'll bother with you.

ideal contracts

Ideal contracts provide you with more than simply the most pay for the least amount of work. They protect you from rip-offs; determine the length of the contract; give you options for terminating the contract in case it winds up stinky, smelly, or purely unsettling; sets the manner in which you are paid; states the limits to your liability and the extent of the other person's liability; gets you paid SOMETHING, at least, in royalties, right away and for ever onwards; retains at least fifty percent of the publishing rights to you (if you get hot, you may be able to publish your own tunes then and negotiate a co-publishing deal with a music publisher at that point, so you get your normal fifty percent plus half of the publishing fifty percent, for a total of seventy-five percent. That's what they mean by co-publishing, but I wouldn't try it on a music publisher unless you are a hot property); and more! Artistic control over the recording process is a biggie, which means you have some veto power over what a record producer wants to make you sound like! (Still, though, realize that they ARE the expert, and weigh your call carefully.) Artistic control over the performance is also important — if you feel gawky in heavy facial make-up and 10 inch high platform shoes, then your performances may suffer for it (though KISS didn't seem to mind very much). See also – The Band Members' Contract.

film and TV soundtrack work-for-hire

Believe it or not, there are certain business deals where you are not ever intended to make a penny off of performance royalties or mechanical royalties, no matter how often played or how big a hit your song or composition gets. These are called "work-for-hire" compositions, and are most common in the film, television, and advertising fields (as well as with music library companies, interactive media companies and books-on-tape publishers). This IS avoidable, via gentle but determined negotiation, where you retain at least some small percentage of ownership of your copyright, or have negotiated some equivalent percentage–payment agreement in your contract. Normally, in works which are to become part of a body of work involving several people's efforts (actors, playwrights, screen-writers, other musicians and composers, copywriters, etc.) the copyright of the completed final work belongs to the company producing that work. So, you will probably lose your copyright privileges and related income if you just sign the contract that they hand you. (More enlightened companies always include a provision guaranteeing you some percentage of licensing sales for other uses of the music you wrote, at least.) See below...

film and TV soundtracks/themes with royalties

You might be able to negotiate a guarantee that you get paid something every time the show is aired, after its initial season (define this), or after so-many uses in an advertising campaign (define this), or upon the production of a certain number of soundtrack records (define this), etc. This is worth the trouble to pursue. After all, what if your tune became played for as many years as the DoubleMint Gum song? Or the Honeymooner's Theme? Paul Anka still makes $30,000 a year for the theme to the Tonight Show. Would you really want to miss out on all that nice money? Here is another great place to say: See also – Choosing a Lawyer.

being a business entity as an individual /as a band

Like it or not, this is a business, this music business. (Hey! The word 'business' was already in there!) You will have to decide how you want your business to be formed. As an individual composer/singer/songwriter, you can, and should, be adequately set up by at least registering yourself as sole proprietor of your own company at the local registry of deeds. Your town may also want you to pay a small business tax of $15 to $50, and, if you work from the home, a home business inspection certificate may be required. [They don't actually inspect, generally, but you usually must state that you use only 25% of your home for business purposes (which is the most you can write off your taxes, anyway) and that you limit your non family employees to one person.] Becoming a corporation has benefits you won't appreciate until you are big time, and is a hassle, with quarterly meetings, quarterly taxes, and tons of paperwork in the form of minutes, filings, and fee payments. Ask a lawyer about it. Buy insurance for your equipment (a great company is Albert H. Wohlers & Co., provider for the American Federation of Musicians. You don't have to be a member of that union to enjoy the group insurance discount benefits they offer! Address below...). And talk to a commercial insurance agent (not usually your car insurance guy or gal) about business liability insurance, especially if you have employees or play gigs anywhere. To have employees, you'll need an Employers ID Number from the IRS, but that's easy to get and costs nothing. It just makes it possible to do their W-2 forms and such at the end of the year. (Hire temps – the tax and unemployment insurance and FICA and all that is handled by the temp agency. It's actually worth the extra little bit of pay you give the company to not be hassled with the paperwork!) Keep in mind that an employee actually COSTS about twice what you'd agreed to pay them as an hourly wage, once the taxes and unemployment insurance are covered. Makes you appreciate your last boss a little more, doesn't it?

A band could incorporate, but again, it has all those quarterly meetings and taxes and such, and can wind up being a hassle. A limited–liability partnership is a great way to go, as it sets up limits to liability among the members of the band, so that if one member of the band gets drunk and drives the band's equipment truck onto the stage area and wrecks a couple of chairs and tables in the process (not to mention the wall), then the whole band doesn't become held liable for that member's actions, and the costs of repairs come out of his personal pocket rather than collectively out of everyone's. Definitely see a business lawyer to set this up.

the band members' contract

Whether your band incorporates or goes with a limited partnership or whatever, you should have it in writing something that makes it clear what each member is expected to fulfill by contract as a member of the band. This way, no one starts feeling like they do all the work while everybody else just shows up and plays. If there is an imbalance in the workload taken on by different members, then that imbalance should be compensated by varying percentages of payment from gigs or other incomes to reflect that imbalance. So, if the guitar player is clearly also working his tail off to act as booking agent and business manager for the band, getting all the gigs and getting the band paid and everything, he should be paid more than everybody else in his percent of the take. What that percentage breakdown is must be negotiated by everyone in the band — and it will be a potentially heated debate, with emotions flaring and maybe even a little shouting — but believe me, it will be worth it in the long run, and may even hold the band together for a long time afterwards. Such agreements in writing should include a clause that they will be reviewed in 3- to 6-months time or so. This is so that any job shifts can be taken into account and a formal review of the percentages can be undertaken. Sure, there may be another shouting match, but I'll bet you it won't ever be as noisy as the first one was! Some bands find a mediator – even a lawyer – to keep peace.

goal setting, sub goals, planning, timetables and scheduling

Just Do It! (Read that however fits!) Abolish procrastination! Many, many grains of sand it takes to make a beach, and they had to all arrive on time. Setbacks? Remember, some of those grains of sand got there via dead birds. (Your old band?) Refocus, take action, evaluate, repeat.

composer(s)' performance rights agencies – BMI, ASCAP, SESAC

You generally won't need these people until you are signing with a music publisher, or are selling records/CDs/tapes or have radio air play or a soundtrack or any of these in combination (though they do offer some great member-only workshops). When you finally do, you will need to join ONE of these organizations in order to get paid the royalties due you from radio stations, TV and other media. Belonging to one of these national organizations also gets you the royalties due you from abroad, due to the international agreements these agencies have with the ones overseas, so joining one joins you to all of them – worldwide. Since many composers enjoy their first success in foreign markets, this is a good thing. Call or write them for their new member information packets (SESAC is more sticky, wanting only established names or clearly strong acts, but you'd be in the same company as Bob Dylan and Neil Young, so it may be worth going through their 'interview' process.) Join one soon! Here are the addresses and phone numbers:

SESAC, Inc.

421 West 54th Street NY, NY 10019

(212) 586-3450

55 Music Square East Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 320-0055

BMI

320 West 57th Street NY, NY 10019

(212) 586-2000 (800) 326-4264 info line

(615) 401-2000 Nashville office

ASCAP

1 Lincoln Plaza NY, NY 10023

(212) 595-3050

(212) 621-6238 membership

mechanical rights – The Harry Fox Agency

If your music is ever put on record, it is done so mechanically. Likewise, if it is ever synchronized with a film or video or audio 'talking book' recording, it is also done mechanically. THUS, the expression, mechanical rights. Every person who wishes to use your work mechanically (technically speaking) has usually negotiated some payment structure with you for use, or license to use, that work. The Harry Fox Agency then gets that money from the record or video or book-on-tape distributorships and gets it to you. They are very nice people in this regard. They even will audit the people who are supposed to be paying you for free, to make sure they are paying you the right amount. And they service all your international accounts, also. You have to be a music publisher to deal with them, but you probably will have gotten a REAL music publisher to work with you by the time you need them, and then payments will come through him. So, now you know the difference between Performance and Mechanical royalties! Fantastic!

Call The Harry Fox Agency at (212) 834-0100 Or, here's their web site:
The Harry Fox Agency Web site

performers and performance copyrights and other copyright stuff

Even though you didn't write the material, a performer can still copyright his or her RENDITION, or performance, of somebody else's tune or composition, mainly to protect your recorded product from piracy. You'll need form SR (for Sound Recording) from the US Copyright Office. (Order as many as you like via their forms hotline at (202) 707-9100 or download them for free online) Other useful forms are form TX for the text of liner notes; form VA for cover art; and some Continuation Forms for additional titles and such. Call The Harry Fox Agency about securing the mechanical rights license for virtually any song you'd want to cover, at (212) 370-5330.

getting paid as a band – the door vs. salary vs. % of bar

You can get paid 3 ways, or a combination, depending on which night of the week it is. They are: the DOOR (or a percentage thereof), by SALARY or flat rate, or by a percentage of the BAR. On off nights, like Tuesdays or Wednesdays, a percentage of the bar's income – though difficult to audit unless you actually see the end-of-night receipts as they're spit out of the cash register – well, it's often better than the door on those nights. On weekends, the door may be more than your flat rate (so might the bar!) If you suspect so, and it's your 3rd or 4th time playing the club and they like you, then talk about a deal where you get EITHER the door OR a percent of the bar OR your flat rate, depending on which is larger. This will often result in a knee-jerk reaction of "WHAT?" (not saying that all bar owners/managers are knee jerks), but just keep smiling and press for some sway here on his/her part. They probably will go along with some improved agreement of this sort if they see you are pulling in a following.

the local band – contracts with club and hotel owners

There are many, simple reasons for making a written contract with a bar owner — like getting paid at all! — but those are pretty obvious (remember that word, liability?) Mock up a contract with a bar manager you know and trust to be on your side helping you, and try it out on a few gigs.

taxes and musicians/composers

Pay your taxes, or you will be sorry!

your bookkeeper

Here is a great person to have around to help you pay your taxes, among other things... like for instance, keeping track of all your deductible expenses so you won't have to pay as much in taxes! Simple business expense bookkeeping can be handled by any bookkeeper with a track record. Don't let your friend's girlfriend do it, unless she also has a track record. Go out and buy one of those Dome single-entry bookkeeping systems to save a few pennies on hiring someone, but you'd be better off letting someone else handle these little number thingies. Save all your receipts, and write on the receipt clearly what was bought and the date and purpose. Oh, yeah, and open a band or business checking account, allotting only $20 or so for petty cash at a time, and paying for all band or composing related expenses using that checking account (NEVER your personal checking account!) If you are like me, you will bring your bookkeeper a box full of receipts with writing on them the first few times, till the pained and hurt and near-ready-to-burst-into-tears look on their face will finally get you to organize those receipts however they ask. Important: buy them a Christmas present. They are an important part of your team, and so, practically a member of the family!

your entertainment lawyer – choosing a lawyer

Finding your lawyer involves a few things. First and foremost, he is NOT the same lawyer that sprung your cousin Bernie from the slam house, nor is he the lawyer who closed the sale of your house for you. He is not the lawyer who is a distant relative working in all-important-sounding corporate law, no matter what your mother says. He IS an entertainment lawyer, and beyond that, knows something about the music business, and does not only handle sports figures. In many states, the State Bar Association has a free lawyer referral service, where you call and tell them that you need an entertainment lawyer, and they tell you ( usually one name per phone call) who in your area or region professes to practice such law. (I think that's why they call themselves 'professionals', because they profess to be able to do things...) Since this professional will cost quit a bit – at minimum $150 per hour – after the first half-hour (which, if referred by the Bar Association, may cost you no more than $30 if you mention you were referred by them, and that might be waived altogether), I advise you to really get together with him or her and ask music business questions (...like, "what if the insert points on the studio's mixer are reversed and blow echo on the Digital Effects in the stereo-pan mix?")(OK, maybe not THAT extreme!). Meet with at least three before making a decision. You should feel you can trust and rely on this person one hundred percent. You don't have to particularly like your lawyer, but you really should feel you can believe in him or her to give you the best advice possible. This person will be advising you on your contracts, drawing up contracts, negotiating for you, and, in the best situation, pushing your tapes into record industry execs palms for you. So-called "real" ones do that, and are one of the best leads to important contacts that an artist or writer or band can have. But, till you can get one of these high powered, "real" lawyers, you may have to work locally. Either way, the same rules apply — you must feel you can trust this person, and that they are really looking out for you! Use a lawyer! Or you will be sorry!

helpful organizations

Musical Instrument Insurance:

Seabury & Smith - Through American Federation of Musicians

(800) 323-2106 for information

Musician's Union:

American Federation of Musicians
1501 Broadway, Suite 600
NY, NY 10036

(212) 869-1330

Find your local branch

North Carolina A.F. of M. Local 500 - Raleigh
North Carolina A.F. of M. Local 342 - Charlotte

South Carolina A.F. of M. Local 502 - Coastal
PO BOX 31055
Charleston, SC 29417
Phone: 843-724-6528

Email: local502@afm.org

Office Hours: MON-SAT 8AM-10:30AM
 

The following may be dated information - please check for yourself

Dues if Paid Annually: $94.00
Dues if Paid Quarterly: $23.50
Local 502 Initiation Fee (one-time): $5.00
Federation Initiation Fee (one-time): $65.00
 
 

Singer's Unions:

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)
260 Madison Avenue, 7th Floor
NY, NY 10016
(212) 532-0800
(615) 327-2944 Nashville Local Office — fax (615) 329-2803

Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) — for film appearances of vocals
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90036-3600

(213) 954-1600

Writer's Digest Books Songwriting Articles (comes out each September)
1507 Dana Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 289-0963

for prices and visa/mastercard orders
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

Songwriter's Guild (SGA):
(tons of services, including sample contracts and free contract-review service)
Songwriter's Guild Website
Songwriter's Guild of America
1500 Harbor Blvd.
Weehawken, NJ 07087
(201) 867-7603 (Administrative/Executive offices)
(212) 768-7902 (NY office)
(615) 329-1782 (Nashville office)
(323) 462-1108 (LA office)

Free Legal Aid for Musicians:

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
6th Floor, 1 East 53rd Street
NY, NY 10022
(212) 319-2910

*** There are a lot of new VLA offices around the country now. Here is a link to a search listing"
Search MSN for Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
 

US Copyright Office:

US Copyright Office
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20559

(202) 707-9100 Forms Hotline
(202) 707-5959 Copyright Information Specialist
(202) 707-3000 Recorded Information System
order a few forms PA, SR, CA, TX, VA & continuation forms and ask for some publications explaining them all – #1, #50 & #56 are very useful.

Free Music Business Advice:

Terry Leigh Britton (the Author)
625 6th Street NW, Suite #9-A
Winston-Salem, NC 27101-1343
e-mail  tbritton@gmail.com
(336) 724-0310


Good Books To Read (list compiled by the people at BMI - some may be dated)

One's that I know of highlighted in orange

A Musician's Guide to the Road
By Gary Burton
Billboard Books
1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
(212) 536-5000

ATTN: A&R A step-by-step guide into the recording industry
By Teri Muench & Susan Pome
Nashville Songwriter's Association International Bookstore
1025 16th Avenue South, Suite 2000 Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 321-5004

How to Become a Successful Nashville Songwriter
By Michael Kosser
Nashville Songwriter's Association International Bookstore
1025 16th Avenue South, Suite 2000 Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 321-5004

How to Make and Sell Your Own Record
By Diane Sward Rapaport Jerome
Headlands Press / Prestige Books
c/o Putnam Publishing
P.O. Box 506 East Rutherford, NJ 07073
(800) 631-8571

If They Ask You, You Can Write A Song
By Joel Hirschorn & Al Kasha
Fireside / Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Simon & Schuster Building
Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
(212) 698-7000

Making Music: The Guide to Writing, Performing, & Recording
By George Martin [Editor]
Quill / William Morrow & Co.
105 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
(212) 889-3050

Recording Demo Tapes at Home
By Bruce Bartlett
Howard W. Sams & Co. / MacMillan, Inc.
4300 West 62nd Street Indianapolis, IN 46268
(317) 298-5566

Successful Lyric Writing: A Step-By-Step Course and Workbook
By Sheila Davis
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

The Craft and Business of Songwriting
By John Braheny
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

The Craft of Lyric Writing
By Sheila Davis
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

The Platinum Rainbow
By Bob Monaco & James Riordan
Contemporary Books
180 North Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 782-9181

The Songwriter's Guide to Collaboration
By Walter Carter
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

This Business of Music
By Sidney Shemel & M. William Krasilovsky
Billboard Books
1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036
(212) 536-5000

More About This Business of Music
By Sidney Shemel & M. William Krasilovsky
Billboard Books
1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036
(212) 536-5000

Entertainment Law & Business
By Harold Orenstein & David E. Guinn
Butterworth Legal Publishers
80 Montvale Avenue Stoneham, MA 02180
(800) 548-4001 or (617) 438-8464

How to Pitch and Promote Your Songs
By Fred Koller
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

American Popular Music and its Business –
The First Four Hundred Years, Volumes I, II, & III
By Russell Sanjek
Oxford University Press, Inc.
200 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
(212)684-1500

The Glossary
The Songwriter's Guild Foundation
276 5th Avenue New York, NY 10001
(212) 686-6820

The Great Song Thesaurus – Second Edition, Updated & Expanded
By Roger Lax & Frederick Smith
Oxford University Press, Inc.
200 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
(212)684-1500

You Can Write Great Lyrics
By P. P. Oland
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

Scoring for Films
By Earle Hagen
Judy Green Music
1634 Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90028
(213) 466-2491

The Clik Trak Book
By Michael McGehee
Judy Green Music
1634 Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90028
(213) 466-2491

Film Music: The Neglected Art
By Roy M. Prendergast
W. W. Norton Publishing
500 5th Avenue New York, NY 10010
(800) 233-4830

Through the Jingle Jungle
By Steve Karmen
Billboard Books
1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036
(212) 536-5000

The Billboard Book of Songwriting
By Peter Pickow & Amy Appleby
Billboard Books
1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036
(212) 536-5000

For Musicians Only
By Claudia Stein, Thomas Stein, & Michael Niehaus
Billboard Books
1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036
(212) 536-5000

Successful Artist Management
By X. M. Fascogna, Jr. & H. Lee Hetherington
Billboard Books
1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036
(212) 536-5000

Making Money Making Music (No Matter Where You Live)
By James W. Dearing
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

Writing Music for Hit Songs
By Jai Josefs
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

* Making it in the New Music Business
By James Riordan
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

Breakin' In to the Music Business
By Alan H. Siegel
Cherry Lane Books / Mailbox Music
P. O. Box 341 Rye, NY 10580
(914) 937-8601

How to Have Your Hit Song Published
By Jay Warner
Hal Leonard Books
7777 West Bluemound Road P. O. Box 13813
(414) 774-3630

The Complete Handbook of Songwriting -
An Insider's Guide to Making It in the Music Industry
By Mark & Cathy Liggett
Plume Books / New American Library
1633 Broadway New York, NY 10019
(212) 397-8000

Method Songwriting
By Buddy Kaye
St. Martin's Press
175 5th Avenue New York, NY 10010
(212) 674-5151

Lyrics, Lyrics, Lyrics
By Jack Smally
Fireside / Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020
(212) 698-7000

The Songwriter's & Musician's Guide to Making Great Demos
By Harvey Rachlin
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

How You Can Make $30,000 a Year as a Musician Without a Record Contract
By James Gibson
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

Getting Noticed: A Musician's Guide to Publicity & Self-Promotion
By James Gibson
Writer's Digest Books
1507 Dana Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207
(800) 543-4644 or (513) 531-2222

All You Need to Know About the Music Business
By Donald S. Passman
Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020
(212) 698-7000

A Songwriter's Guide to Music Publishing
By Randy Poe

Everything You Wanted To Know About Songwriting
By Cliffie Stone

The Music Business
By Dick Weissman

Making a Living in Your Local Music Market --
Realizing Your Marketing Potential

By Dick Weissman
Hal Leonard Publishing
7777 W. Bluemound Rd., P.O. Box13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213

On The Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring
By Fred Karlin & Rayburn Wright
Crown Publishing


The following is useful to scare away sharks, wanna-be "promoters/producers/managers" and the like. That is, folks you either don't trust or don't want to work with. Or both! You will appear inordinately paranoid if you use the following form with REALLY legitimate entities, though. But it really works well on the aforementioned crowd, AND it protects you from their foibles and misdoings, should such occur. Send or give two copies of this signed by yourself (or the actual composer/copyright owner), expecting to get one copy back signed by the receiving party.


DEMO TAPE RELEASE FORM

Date: ______________

To Whom It May Concern:

This form, signed by ___________________, legal holder of all rights to the copyrighted materials contained herein [the Composer] and ____________________, the person or company to whom this demo tape is submitted to, insures in writing that the materials on any demo tape, submitted to the above-named, by the Composer or his/her assigned representative(s), will not be used for any other purpose other than as evidence of the Composer's or the artist(s) performing the Composer's works abilities, and will be considered confidentially by its producers and potential clients for that purpose only. No materials submitted, whether copyrighted or not, may be used by the above named without consent following the negotiation of transfer of rights and retention of any proportion of same with the composer submitting these works. Furthermore, the composer, in submitting his or her works for demonstration purposes, need make no claims as to the originality or freedom from prior copyright by another person of these works, and is free from indemnity upon submission of this work for any such transgressions. Only upon actually negotiating the transfer of rights of work stated as the composer's true property does any legal responsibility for the originality of the work become binding to the composer.

Please sign both forms, retaining one for your records, and mail the other back to the Copyright Owner.

Thank you for the time taken in signing and returning this form.

Sincerely,
 

_______________________Copyright Owner

I have read and understand this form:

Signed: ________________________Date:__________________

[Please print your name:________________________________]


After word and disclaimer: Hey, I am not a lawyer! I give the above advice based upon reality, but YOU FOLLOW IT AT YOUR OWN RISK! This document (or any book on the Music Business) should never act as a replacement for an attorney's guidance when the need arises. It is worth every penny of the seemingly high cost to have things properly set to writing and finalized with signatures. However, I hope I have given the reader very good advice and guidance that will help him or her know when to use a lawyer, and to get to that point where a lawyer is necessary in the first place! Best of luck in all your musical endeavors, both business and otherwise.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at tbritton@gmail.com

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