I am hiring! If you are a positive, smart, and capable potential employee who is passionate about music and protecting creators and rights’ owners, then please click on the links below to view available positions and apply:
All music starts with a composition, which is one of the reasons why I love the area of music publishing. Despite the low streaming rates, there is still a lot of activity and money to be made on the publishing side of music. Whether you are a writer signing with a music publisher, or you self-publish your own music, here are the some typical music publishing contracts:
A Songwriter Agreement usually involves a writer transferring 100% of the copyrights to the song(s) in your catalogue and/or written during the term to a music publisher and a 50/50 income split between the publisher and the writer. While these were some of the most common agreements 60 years ago and are still used today, they aren’t entered into as often because many writers value owning their content more in today’s music market.
A Co-Publishing Agreement is very common today and involves a writer transferring 50% of the copyrights to the song(s) to the music publishers and an income split of 75/25 where 75% goes to the writer and 25% goes to the publisher.
An Administration Agreement is also very popular today and involves no copyright transfer—the publisher administers (handles licenses, tracks royalties, etc.) without owning copyright. This agreement includes a 90/10 income split where 90% goes to the writer and 10% goes to the publisher as a fee for doing the administration.
A Songwriter Split Agreement is something that always needs to be completed when co-writing songs with others. It is essential to minimize disputes between co-writers, but is also usually required by publishing companies, whether you are your own publisher, administer for co-writers or other unrelated writers, or are signed as a writer to a music publishing company. A Songwriter Split Agreement can be custom drafted, or one can use a template from Indie Artist Resource.
Many “placement houses” or “pitching companies” that have traditionally just focused on pitching music for placement in TV and film are now getting into the publishing game. The copyright transfer and income splits tend to vary on these deals, and I have seen a lot of them called “Co-Publishing Agreements” that really do not follow the traditional co-publishing model. These can get tricky because of term variations as well as retitling and other practices.
Music publishing is one of the most complicated areas of the music business and as you may have gleaned from this article, the associated agreements and principles can get extremely complicated. Any artists/writers should have an experienced music attorney draft their music publishing agreements agreements for them if they are administering their own publishing or publishing for others. An experienced music attorney is also invaluable to review and negotiate any publishing agreements or licenses presented writers, as an experienced music attorney knows what the terms and custom and practice should be, as well as has the training to catch problems or unfair clauses that writers may miss.
I regularly draft, review, and negotiate all of these types of agreements, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can handle one or more of these agreements on your behalf.
If you are interested in starting your own music publishing company and administering your own publishing or publishing for other writers, download Erin’s video on Protecting and Profiting from Your Original Music where she explains:
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.
I’m happy that the first post of 2014 is an interview with Michael Eames, President of PEN Music Group.
Founded in 1994, PEN is a full-service independent music publishing company with a worldwide presence who is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2014. PEN offers efficiency and personal attention as a boutique company. With PEN’s A-list music contacts in film, TV and advertising, and a success rate that continues to grow (with 100+ placements each year), it is an effective alternative to the large multinational publishing companies. PEN has formed strategic partnerships with several record labels to leverage collective strengths and has joint ventures with other respected companies. PEN’s songs have also been recorded by artists including The Black Eyed Peas, Celine Dion, the cast of GLEE, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, kd lang, Santana, Christina Aguilera, Corinne Bailey Rae, Faith Hill, Paulina Rubio, Macy Gray, Kenny Rogers and Luther Vandross, among countless others.
1. Describe a typical day at the office.
Other than the placement world, I think everyone is looking to YouTube to be a new frontier of sorts in generating income. And you can generate a lot of income on YouTube but it takes a LOT of views to have a decent financial impact. We are in a visual world now – any artist who wants a fighting chance should plan on making videos of their songs – whether they are gimmicky videos that go viral or not. It’s all about getting the exposure. But once you can get it (however you do it and it can be done outside of the major label paradigm), it’s how you use it and manage it that will determine your financial success. As mentioned before, successful touring artists sell records still and that generates mechanical income. It all feeds upon itself – the trick is figuring out where an artist or songwriter will first connect and then you take that and run with it.
Thanks to Michael for this very informative interview. Learn more about PEN Music Group here.