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Dear Rock and Roll Librarian,

I wrote it.

I sang it.

I produced it.

So where’s my money?

Sincerely, Independent Artist

 

Ah, yes. We hear it all the time, don’t we? Such sad tales.

Do you remember this one I told you about? 

An entertainment attorney well known to The Rock & Roll Librarian, filled her ear with a sad tale the other day.

It seems a client of his had a team she trusted. This team proceeded to sign up for distribution through a third-party company who put the album up with CD Baby and other aggregators, all of whom were feeding the album out to online retail outlets including iTunes. Sales were awesome.

But after 18 months, the artist — who was also the songwriter, publisher, and composer — had not received any money from the sales. She asked her team to look into it. Guess what?

The third-party company had gone out of business and could not be found or contacted.

So the attorney’s client contacts CD Baby who says, “We don’t know who you are.”

She says, “I’m the artist! I’m the songwriter! I’m the publisher of my songs. I paid for the production of the album!”

CD Baby answers, “But you aren’t on the documentation. Company XYZ is on it. We can only talk to them.”

So the artist comes to her attorney. “Fix the problem, please,” she says.

The Rock & Roll Librarian asked the attorney how this could have turned out differently.

  1. The artist, as head of her company, should have confirmed the viability of the distributor.
  2. The artist, as head of her company, should have confirmed whoever did the paperwork for her would not and did not list themselves as owner of the works.
  3. The artist, as head of her company, should have guided her team.

This artist and her team would have benefited mightily from spending a few bucks with The Rock & Roll Librarian for services like the Gotcha Report and Paper Contract Review.

Try these  today:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

Hindsight is 20/20: Just ask Prince.

 

This was originally written in September 2015, and shared again with you just a few short months after his untimely — and very sad — death. 

Prince Roger Nelson — yes, that Prince — tells people who want to be artists, not to sign up with labels and such as that. You can read here his opinion in Rolling Stone magazine about slavery in the music business.

But, wait, you say. Didn’t Prince get to be as big as he is because of the distribution system and marketing dollars his label threw at him all those years?

Excellent question. Here’s the answer: Yes.

At the same time, Prince ended up fighting for ownership of his songs and the inherent rights to his intellectual property. You can read about that here as reported in the Toledo Blade.

Still, as Prince has come to realize, oh if only he knew then what he knows now: Own it and control it because after all, it’s not always about the fame.

The Rock and Roll Librarian has not spent her years in the stacks without gleaning from the wisdom of others. Many books are written by those who want to warn others not to follow in their footsteps. As Prince got older, it is a sure bet he realized his soul was not being fed. The RNRL also bets he had deeper messages in his music than what was exploited.

So he gives interviews and such just like you’ve read above.

Your next excellent question is: If music labels are not the place to be, what is the alternative to building my career?

That will be called do-it-yourself. That will be called Going Indie. The short version is: DIY/Indie. But that means you must understand the business. The RNRL has many books in the stacks and she’s read most of them. What she knows about most of the books is that they all tell you how to fit into the existing system as a slave.

Here is a book that tells you how to be independent. How to maintain control. Get it here.

In the meantime, if you need the Rock and Roll Librarian to peruse the stacks for you and provide answers to your questions, try these:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

Savvy sensibility in a business going crazy: Free Ebook


In the music business today, technology makes it possible to be everywhere all the time, but does that make it advantageous for your career? Does that mean you will be accessible to your fans? The short answer?

NO.

Take a few minutes to read the book. The Rock and Roll Librarian helped to bring these 34 pages of information to you.

Take it from her, she knows of what she speaks. Don’t blindly follow the herd. Understand your role in the industry you chose. Look, sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.

Download WorkingHardForTheMoney_FreeEbook.

WorkingHardfortheMoney_Cover

After reading, did you have questions? Need answers?

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

It’s 2:00 AM. Do you know where your song titles are?


RNRL_Inset

The Rock and Roll Librarian is calling out aggregators and music libraries who change the titles of songs placed with them.

In the book world, we have something called a card catalog. If two titles are the same, why we note the author’s name next and can easily see the difference between the two books.

So why do aggregators and music libraries often retitle songs placed with them?

And why do they also not tell their customer they are doing it?

They try to explain it away with “somebody else has the same song title.”

But it is a sure bet they do not have the same song title by the same artist or band.

In this day and age of everything being database driven, and all information available and able to be sorted by multiple fields, there is no longer any excuse for that.

Even one of our favorite publications serving Indies, Stomp and Stammer, noted in their review of a new album by Von Grey, that the CD titles did not match what came up in iTunes.

Here Jeff Clark is quoted: “…Not a total loss, however, because for some reason when the CD is inserted into a computer the songs show up on iTunes with completely different titles! I don’t know what “Yo, Excuse Me Miss” or “I Don’t Want to Be a Murder” have to do with anything on the EP…”

Anyway, the point is this: These big companies are playing with your money when they give your songs different names and have royalties sent to them.

If you have put any of your songs with music libraries or aggregators (such as CD Baby, TuneCore, or any others), it begs the question: Do you know what they are doing with your songs behind your back?

You’ve got questions now.

Try these  today:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

 

 

Free Freaky Friday: Jay Z’s troubles are causing you trouble

The Rock and Roll Librarian loves to share information about anything that can help you better understand the challenges you face in making money with your music, and so today she’s laying some information on you at no charge. She’s nice like that. But it’s because the Rock and Roll Librarian never kids with you about anything that can effect your business. She doesn’t like it when mogul types want to play fast and loose with her favorite peoples’ money and time and ownership of their own songs. So, when she says read these, she means read these. You won’t be wasting your time.

Here’s an article about Jay Z and one of his music business challenges of late and how that effects you. Read about Jay Z’s trouble here.

Here’s a letter to Kanye and Jay Z about them getting sued for lying to fans.

And here’s the follow-up letter to Kanye and Jay Z about how they don’t even know how digital distribution works!

 

In the meantime, get in touch if you need

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

 

Free Freaky Friday: How a label failed.

 

The RNRL read this article and thought it was spot on. She has made a few notes in this PDF entitled: RNRL_Notated_What I Learned Working At A Record Label That Failed. You can click the link or click the picture to get the PDF file and download then open. Sidebar notes will not be able to be opened when the document is viewed in a web browser window.

RNRL_Tyler_Snip

If you still want to know more, remember the RNRL is here for you in quite the affordable fashion. Just order up here:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

 

 

Free Freaky Friday: Digital Aggregator Contracts Notated

Hey, everyone. We want to share beneficial information for you. Angela K. Durden, who is the author of Navigating The New Music Business as a DIY & Indie as well as the CEO of MyDigitalCatalog.com, has provided to the Rock and Roll Librarian a few documents for you.

Click this link to Get downloads of Digital Aggregator Contracts notated for easy reading.

One is for CD Baby. The other two are for a new service called ORFIUM.

Remember, WHAT THE BIG PRINT GIVETH, the little print taketh away. 

If you still want to know more, remember the RNRL is here for you in quite the affordable fashion. Just order up here:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

 

 

Free Freaky Friday: The Myth of Passive Income

Dear Rock and Roll Librarian,

I was at a music conference for songwriters the other day. This guy on a panel they had about publishing said that songwriter’s income is passive. They talked about royalties. It sounded awesomely good. I mean, money just showing up and that. I wanted to talk to him more about how that works, but he was covered up with other people talking to him, so I didn’t get to. I was wondering. Can you explain a little bit more about that? If you could help me on this, I sure would appreciate it.

Thnx and so forth,

Maggie S—-

PS: I sure do appreciate having you as a resource I can go to.

 

Dear Maggie,

Glad to help. And you are most welcome.

For songwriters, passive income is simply income that continues to accrue to you from songs you’ve written and had placed on projects that are monetizing (i.e. albums or singles, whether downloads or physical product like CDs or vinyl), or from terrestrial radio play anytime in the future. I’m not mentioning streaming because with that you’ll probably never see enough money to buy even one cup of coffee.

However, passive income is awesome, but it can only be generated by not being passive in your business dealings.

How one gets it, though, is a myth.

You see, the myth is that by simply having a song placed on an album, somehow everybody will know to send money to you, the songwriter, because you wrote it. You must ask the following questions.

FIRST: How do “they” know you wrote it?

SECOND: Who are “they” that have to be told you wrote it?

THIRD: Who must tell “them” you wrote it?

FOURTH: How can you prove you wrote the song?

FIFTH: How do you know what your percentage is going to be for that song?

SIXTH: Did you sign contracts for that placement?

SEVENTH: Before you signed, did you have contract(s) reviewed by an attorney and were they understood by you?

 

There are more questions, but I think you are beginning to see the overall theme here:

PAPERWORK MUST BE GENERATED, UNDERSTOOD, AND TRACKED.

Maggie, the truth of the matter is that passive income can only happen if the songwriter does several things. So, to the questions above, here are the answers.

FIRST: Document your creative process by using a variety of time/date stamped methods from the first time your idea came to be. There are a variety of ways. One way we recommend putting into your proof flow is MyDigitalCatalog.com. They are a third-party validater of your creative information and

SECOND: If you are not a member of a performing rights organization (PRO, for short), we recommend you join one as both a writer and a publisher. SESAC costs nothing to join, but they don’t just sign people up willy nilly. You must be vetted by them first to join. ASCAP and BMI have small fees to pay, and some requirements.

THIRD: Then you must register your song with the performing rights organization just before it is released by going to your online member portal for the PRO. You will let them know who you are in business with, and what your previously agreed-upon splits are. In other words, you will tell them the basic details of your financial arrangement, and who the artist is that is releasing it. You should also upload a copy of the song to them. DO NOT RELY solely on your PRO keeping your information correct as they will not guarantee to do that.

FOURTH: Document and validate the basis of your deal with the split sheet by using MyDigitalCatalog.com. MDC offers free split sheets to everybody, but if you upgrade to the paid version you’ll get everything you need to document the full life cycle of the song. Also, you must register the song with Copyright.gov just before release. Do NOT trust that anybody else will let the government know. In the music business, there is something called convenient amnesia.

FIFTH: By using the split sheets, all songwriters and publishers will agree as to the percentage of the song each will get. If you have no copy of the agreed-upon split sheet, then you have no proof of the basis of your deal. Do NOT let anyone tell you that they will do all the registering for you. You must do it in your member portal, and you must have eyes on the information.

SIXTH: Before putting your song on the album, the publisher and/or label for the project should have supplied for your review a written contract spelling out the terms of the deal for placing your song on that project. It should cover quite a few things that I will not go into detail about here, and recommend you contact an entertainment attorney for review.

SEVENTH: Get an attorney.

 

So, you see, Maggie, that passive income can only be generated by not being passive in your business dealings. There is an old saying, “It takes money to make money.” As a small business owners, which songwriters are, you will have expenses.

You are wanting to go in business with these people, you are not an employee, so you must deal with these. But if you need some help in the meantime, and want a complete report on any contracts you are asked to sign, I am not an attorney, but you can sure use this option to begin to understand whether or not you will even want to move forward with a deal and have an attorney review it.

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

 

Freaky Free Friday: Deux

Dear Rock and Roll Librarian,

There’s this new music label that’s been facebooking and tweeting all over the place. They say they are looking to sign new artists. And you know, I’m hot for the deal and such as that, been working hard to get it and nothing seems to be happening. Now here’s my chance. You know, me, a new artist, and them, a new label. I mean, I think it might be a match made in heaven, you feel me?

So, anyway, somebody told me I better not just jump all over that until I talked to you. Now, I don’t know who you are, but my friend said you won’t steer me wrong. So, what do you think? I should talk to them?

Sincerely,

Parker P—–

(PS: My artist name is Double P or Parky Park, I haven’t quite decided yet, what do you think?)

 

Dear Parker,

I shall decline to comment on your artist name since that is such a personal thing. Couple of hints, though. Always make sure people can pronounce it when they read it, and if you mu$t put a $ymbol in the name, at least let it make $en^e to their brains. Puzzles are fun, but in marketing they can backfire and you’ll be ignored.

Okay. On to the label question you asked.

There are several questions you should ask the label. Remember, this is a partnership. You will do things. They will do things. Any contract you sign should be very clear about these things. Here are some things that I would totally like to know something about the label because these are things that will 100% impact your ability to have a future in the business. Specifically:

ONE: What does their signing deal encompass? (A thorough reading and understanding of the contract is in order.)

TWO: Do they expect to distribute physical product (examples: CDs, albums, tapes)?

THREE: Do they expect to distribute digital product (examples: Wav, Mp3, video)?

FOUR: Who are they planning on using as their distribution partner? (Hint: You better hope neither physical or digital distribution is with CD Baby, TuneCore, or just about any other music aggregators.)

FIVE: What if the artist brings to the table a team of songwriters? How will that be handled?

SIX: How long is the contract term for? Anything over three years is not good as you don’t want to be held hostage to a deal that may not be working so well.

SEVEN: What are the exit options for each side?

EIGHT: What country are they in? What laws your country might have to protect you for doing business within your country, does not mean you have the same protections with a business outside those borders. BUT…

NINE: The contract can be worded so as to protect both sides if they are in different countries. An attorney competent in international business law would need to review.

Parker, I know this may seem a little bit overwhelming, but you are wanting to go in business with these people, you are not an employee, so you must deal with these. But if you need some help in the meantime, and want a complete report on any contracts you are asked to sign, please use these options:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

 

Protecting your investment in yourself

Here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Seven links. One court case. All fighting over an essential point of copyright law that can drastically impact earnings.

One party (Flo & Eddie, Inc.) are attempting to get certain State Courts to make unilateral rulings bypassing a lawmaking body that has already spoken for the people.

The other parties — including Pandora (as defendant/appellant, university law professors (2 groups), the National Association of Broadcasters, Sirius, XM, and four other groups that deal with copyright — are fighting against Flo & Eddie, Inc.

The Big Lesson you need to take away here is this: All these people and organizations and professors are fighting over a point of copyright law because it is important to being profitable in the music business.

So, The Big Question you should answer is this: Are you giving away your rights to your songs by not taking care of the complete and proper documentation of each and every one of them?

If you are, then you can educate yourself on how to protect your investment in yourself.

You can read this. And this. And this.

Or, you can send your questions to me, The Rock and Roll Librarian:
Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

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