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Categotry Archives: Music Libraries

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HOW TO CONTINUE MAKING MONEY IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS DURING ISOLATION

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Categories: Articles, Music Industry, Music Libraries, Music Licensing, Music Publishing, Performance, Royalties, Social Media, Streaming, Synchs, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By: Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This article was previously published on Synchtank.com.

The COVID-19 pandemic is requiring people all over the world to adjust to new daily practices for public health and safety.  The pause on live events and productions has caused uncertainty and worry among many in the music community.  There is still business to do, but it will require a more creative approach.

Here is a list of ways for music creators and companies to continue doing business and earning money during this uncertain time.


For Music Creators:

1. Make time for registrations. If you haven’t registered for royalty collection services, like performance rights organizations, mechanical societies, Sound Exchange, etc., you are likely missing out on royalties owed to you if your music is being used in ways that trigger these royalties (streaming, performances in audiovisual works, etc.). If you are registered with these companies, but haven’t registered your individual songs, then you are still likely missing out on royalties. Similarly, if you know your registrations are incorrect, then – you guessed it – you are likely missing out on royalties. Quarantine or not, pandemic or not, people are still streaming music, and music is still being performed on TV and online, which means music is generating royalties. When income in other areas has decreased, royalty income can be of great help.  Now is the time to get caught up and get royalty income flowing in. If you need assistance with preparing these registrations, hire an experienced music industry professional to prepare and submit them.

2. Protect Yourself. If you haven’t registered your works for copyright, now is a good time to complete your applications to reap the benefits copyright registration provides. If you’ve been meaning to get contracts together with your collaborators to protect your work, now is a good time for that too. Again, if you need assistance with protecting your work in these ways, hire an experienced music attorney to handle these matters.

3. Get creative! You’ve likely got more time on your hands right now – use some of it to create new music! You might start writing for your next album, or maybe for libraries or placements. If you are worried about the current state of the world, channel that worry into your music as a healthy outlet for your stress. If you want to make a positive difference, write songs to uplift others in this uncertain time.

4. Collaborate (virtually). The beauty of technology means you can still collaborate with others during social isolation. Before computers, some songwriters would snail mail cassette tapes to each other to work on songs together over long distances. Now, you can send mp3, ProTools, or other files to each other via email or file transfer websites (or keep them in a shared cloud drive) to work with collaborators you already know. You can also use video chat programs such as Zoom or FaceTime to collaborate in real time. If you don’t have anyone to collaborate with, you can find people by using gig sites such as Airgigs.com.

5. Get social (from a distance)! Many consumers are spending more time on social media, YouTube, and apps like TikTok. Take some of your newly created works and post them to social platforms so that people staying at home have new music to enjoy. Maybe one of your songs about hope will resonate with people everywhere and gain you new fans. If you are a performing artist, you could also do live virtual performances for or virtual video chats with your fans. Fans would love the opportunity to connect with their favorite artists in a way they cannot under normal circumstances.

6. Check for aid. If you are really in dire straits, some organizations have put together funds to help the music community in this time of need. Here is a list of many national and state-based funds in the United States. Here’s a list for anyone affected in Canada, and the PRS Foundation in the UK also has a fund. Many companies, like Sony Music, also have established their own assistance funds for the music community.

For Music Companies:

As mentioned above, this is a good time to catch up on registrations, paperwork, or anything you’ve been putting off that will help bring in additional money. Not only will companies help themselves by doing this, but will also help their employees and their families, and their songwriters, composers, artists, and their families. Some companies, at least in the United States, may also be eligible for government assistance or deferment of payroll taxes, and should check with their financial advisors for options.

Keep business going as much as possible.

  • Do business virtually as much as possible. Set up employees to work from home if work-from-home practices have not already been established.
  • For publishers that usually set up co-writing sessions for writers, don’t stop the sessions, set up virtual co-writing sessions for them instead.
  • For companies needing cuts, keep sending songs to producers and artists to record at a future time.
  • Set up online showcases for songwriters and artists (I’ve already been invited to a few of these virtual showcases by established music companies).
  • For licensing companies or publishers who seek out placements, keep sending music to music supervisors, as it is likely that supervisors may still be looking for music to use for productions currently on hold, and can thereby make their choices and complete the licensing paperwork in advance.
  • Licensing companies and publishers can also keep building catalogue by signing new writers and composers. Not only will this practice make for a more robust catalogue for placements once films and show resume production, but it will also boost morale and provide hope to music creators during this period.
  • Companies can also focus on projects that may not require in-person productions, for example, many game developers may be working from home so new games will need music. Maybe there are new online shows or virtual shows that need music.
  • Get creative with who might need music in a virtual world and how to get it to them.

For everyone, follow the CDC guidelines and keep yourself and those around you safe by staying home except for essentials, practicing social distancing when you do have to go out, and washing your hands well and often.  You need to stay healthy to continue business.  Also, focus on hope.  Although we don’t know exactly when, this will pass and the music industry will survive.

Stay safe and be well.

This article does not constitute legal (or medical) advice.  Any advertisement is general in nature and not directed toward any particular person.

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Erin M. Jacobson Speaking at Taxi Road Rally

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Categories: Music Contracts, Music Industry, Music Libraries, Speaking, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I will be speaking at the 2017 Taxi Road Rally, November 3-4, 2017! Here is my schedule: Friday, November 3, 2017 from 2:45-4:15 pm / La Guardia Room (Mezzanine Level / 2nd Floor)
Don’t Get Screwed! How to Protect Yourself as an Independent Musician with Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.  An explanation of the most common types of ways independent musicians and songwriters get screwed and how to protect yourself before it happens. This class will include real examples from artist’s careers, as well as a discussion on what contracts are necessary to prevent these scenarios, along with an opportunity for Q&A with music attorney Erin Jacobson. (I will also participate in the mentor lunch on Friday.)
Saturday, November 4, 2017 from 4:30-6:00 pm /  La Guardia Room (Mezzanine Level / 2nd Floor) Understanding Music Library Agreements with Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.  Music attorney, Erin M. Jacobson will talk about the types of deals offered and explain what contract terminology and certain clauses mean. You may bring printouts of particular clauses that have you stumped and Ms. Jacobson will read them and explain what they mean! This class could save you a world of hurt down the road. It’s a Do-Not-Miss session if you’re pitching to music libraries! Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. on TAXI TV

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Categories: Copyright, Law, Legal Issues, Music Contracts, Music Industry, Music Libraries, Music Publishing, Performance, Royalties, Streaming, Videos, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I appeared on TAXI TV yesterday discussing YouTube payments, royalty free music, cover records, and more!

Here’s the replay of the show:

 

Thanks to Michael Laskow of TAXI Music for having me on the show!

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March Music Legal and Business Roundup

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Categories: Articles, Business, Law, Legal Disputes, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Music Libraries, Music Publishing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

cowgirl, lasso, roundup

Image via freeimages.com

March had several interesting music legal issues, but first, check out my most recent articles:

 

In other news this month:

 

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What’s the Difference Between a Music Library and a Music Publisher?

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Categories: Articles, Music Contracts, Music Industry, Music Libraries, Music Publishing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

music library music publisher music lawyer music attorney erin jacobson erin m jacobsonMusic libraries have exploded in popularity since musicians and composers discovered synchronization (“sync”) placements as an opportunity to make money and gain exposure in the music business. However, songwriters are often confused about the differences between music libraries and music publishers, especially because many libraries are trying to cross over into the publishing space. Here’s what you need to know.

Music Publishers

Music publishers have been around since the late 1700s in America, and they serve as the overall administrators of a songwriter’s compositions. Publishers perform many functions, including:

  • managing a writer’s catalog
  • promoting the compositions in the catalog
  • getting recording artists to record songs by the writer
  • working with a writer’s record label (if the writer is also a recording artist)
  • pairing a writer with co-writers
  • getting sync placements, etc.

Traditional music publishing contracts usually follow one of the following structures:

  • Songwriter agreement: the writer transfers 100 percent of the copyright in his or her catalog of music (including what he or she writes while under contract with that publisher), and the publisher and the writer split the income from the compositions 50/50. (Note: These deals can vary slightly based on the circumstances. For instance, it’s possible that a writer’s back catalog is tied up from a previous publishing deal, and a new publisher will only get new compositions by the writer.)
  • Co-publishing agreement: the writer transfers 50 percent of the copyright in his or her catalog to the publisher. The publisher takes 25 percent of the income from the compositions and the writer receives 75 percent.
  • Administration agreement: the writer retains ownership of all copyrights in his or her catalog, and the publisher simply performs all publishing duties for an administration fee of 10 percent (leaving 90 percent of income for the writer).

Music publishing deals often come with an advance, which justifies the fact that a writer may have to transfer copyright ownership upon signing a new deal. Because publishing deals are exclusive and manage all aspects of the compositions, no retitling of compositions is required.

Music Libraries

The first music library was formed in 1927 in the United Kingdom after movies gained the use of sound technology. The main purpose of that library, and those that followed, was to license music for film (and later TV). Licensing music for film and television is still the main purpose of music libraries today.

These deals can be exclusive or non-exclusive, require a transfer of copyright ownership or not, and may retitle the writer’s compositions (or not). Many libraries realized the value of owning the catalogs of music instead of just acting as a licensing agent and making money on licensing fees. Thus, many libraries decided to do their deals on an exclusive basis and require the writer to transfer to the library a copyright ownership share in the compositions, usually at least 50 percent. Typically, these deals have some sort of threshold where the writer has to earn a certain amount in licensing fees before the obligation to transfer copyright is triggered.

On a more frequent basis, I’m seeing library deals labeled as “co-publishing” deals. These deals provide for a 50 percent copyright ownership transfer, but only a 50/50 income split, which results in less money to the writer than under a traditional co-publishing deal with a music publisher. These deals offer no advance, and require a transfer of copyright ownership triggered by a low threshold of licensing fees. If a writer is close to the threshold but hasn’t met it yet, some companies will even pony up a few hundred bucks to meet the mark, which means the writers are selling out their copyrights for a very small chunk of change.

This scenario may be acceptable for a songwriter who makes his or her living from writing for film and TV and is churning out new songs every day. But in my opinion, these terms are unacceptable for career musicians who are marketing albums, playing gigs, etc. and are seeking placements for extra money and exposure.

The benefit to a library deal over a publishing deal is that a writer can give the library only certain compositions, while leaving others in his or her catalog open to a publishing deal or another opportunity. To be fair, libraries that are incorporating more publishing-like terms in their deals are also doing the work to manage and administer the compositions. However, with many of these companies it remains uncertain whether they have the connections to get other artists to record the writer’s compositions, pair the writer with substantial co-writers, etc. Anyone can act like a music publisher, but the difference lies with whether the longstanding business model and connections that publishers have are present.

For independent or new artists, it’s easier to get a library deal than a publishing deal, but signing with a library and transferring copyrights may complicate or even prevent a writer from signing a publishing deal later.

That’s not to say that a library deal can’t be a great start for a new artist or writer – it can be a great way to earn extra income with songs that otherwise wouldn’t generate any. However, you need to look carefully at your career goals to see which path is really right for your intended career direction. It would be beneficial to consult with an experienced music attorney to discuss which type of deal is the right career choice for you.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. This article does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not rely on, act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.
If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity.

 

This article was originally posted on Sonicbids.com.