The Rock & Roll Librarian

Reference Desk

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You wrote it, but do you own it?

A woman contacted The Rock and Roll Librarian at the Circulation Desk with a request.

“Please, can you recommend a music publisher I can talk to that will buy Daddy’s songs?” she asked.

Her needs were simple. It seems her father died. In his Last Will and Testament, Daddy left her all the songs he had ever written. Back in the day, two of these songs were huge hits. She thought she was sitting on a gold mine of songs she could make money with. That’s what Daddy had always told her she was going to get.

A bit of research by The RNRL showed this woman had a huge problem: Daddy was prolific; he had hundreds of songs. But he had absolutely no documentation of agreements between his collaborators whose names were all over the notes in his files.

In other words: No split sheets.

Furthermore, the two songs of his that were huge hits he had actually written as a work for hire. He didn’t know they were going to be big hits, and he needed the money for his family right then. He was rightfully paid and all further rights to his songs were purchased by someone else.

The woman wailed, “You mean to tell me Daddy left me a pile of paper worth nothing?”

That was a sad, sad conversation and, truthfully, there was nothing The RNRL could do to make it all better because her Daddy had already screwed it up for her.

But she can help you not to screw it up for yourself or your precious children when you leave them your songs.

Get the 411 here:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review




A disturbing trend

The Rock and Roll Librarian is seeing a trend in the music business that is causing her sleepless nights.

There are people setting up music publishing companies wherein they will represent other peoples’ works. Their focus are those who have not been signed. Neither of these are the disturbing thing.

The disturbing thing is this: They have not educated themselves on the issues in the business and when The Rock and Roll Librarian reads their user contracts, she is horrified at seeing the same language that music aggregators are using and are, in point of fact, using the publishing and publishing administration as a way to building a back catalog for future licensing. It gets worse.

The RNRL will not go into that language here. She will point out to you, however, that these new companies, themselves small businesses with big dreams, have been started with the express purpose of helping people not be taken advantage of by The Bigs and The Majors.

They say they are doing it differently.

They say they are there to help the little guy with no hope.

But then The RNRL reads their contracts and she sees them feeding their clients’ music into the same hungry mouth of the same industry beast that is cheating creators now and that is destroying the foundations of the business.

This makes The Rock and Roll Librarian very sad.

Are these people blind?

She must further ask: From where is their legal advice coming?

If these people are saving money by copying user agreements from other sites that they believe are doing the right thing and pasting them into their own site, then they have already lost control of their business.

If they did seek legal advice, then they are getting bad advice from attorneys who have not kept up with where the business is going.

No legal advice or bad legal advice, in both instance they are perpetuating a system that is already not working and is, quite frankly, unfriendly to the new songwriter and artist.

The Rock and Roll Librarian begs these people to please stop it.

It is not for The Rock and Roll Librarian to call names on these people. But what she can do, privately and discreetly, is take a look at the contracts you are being asked to sign and advise you on the Gotchas.



Avoid disturbing trends. Try these  today:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review




Freaky Free Friday


Dear Rock and Roll Librarian,

My manager is hot to sign me up with this online music publisher he found out about. He said they look good to him, and I want to kickstart my career. But, hey, I thought I’d run it by you first.  Anything I should know before my manager pulls the trigger on this deal?


The Artist Known as T-Witt


Dear T-Witt,

I am so proud of you for doing your homework, or at least knowing you have homework to do. I took a look at the contract this online publisher is requiring in order to represent you. First, overall impression is for you to run for the hills and avoid this crappy deal. Here are a few thoughts you must consider as to why I say this.


When your manager signs a legal document on your behalf, did you know you are the one that is legally bound, not your manager? So you better know, understand, and agree to abide by what that contract says.


Section 2b concerns me. It says they will promote your music on a “through-to-the-listener basis, without the payment of any fees or royalties” due the songwriters, composers, artists, session musicians, session singers, and/or featured artists, and they also won’t pay those royalties due to any performing rights organization, or unions or guilds that collect on these peoples’ behalf, no matter which country they are in.


Furthermore, they have fees for mechanical licensing administration that if you sign the contract shows you’ve agreed to, but you cannot get those fee schedules without first joining, so your Rock and Roll Librarian did not see those, but she is taking a deeper dive into the stacks to get that.

In the meantime, if you want a complete report on this contract, please use these options:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

A visit to an alternate universe

Young fellow, 26, moves from small town to large city to pursue his dreams of being in the music business. 26 proceeds to ask The Rock and Roll Librarian for advice on how to sell his song. The RNRL listens to his song. Contrary to what people think about librarians, we do want to be helpful, so The RNRL patiently listened.

Here is where she stepped into the alternative universe known as If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride.

The Rock and Roll Librarian kids you not. Here is the conversation.

The RNRL: So, 26, that beat was dope. Did you write it?

26: No. I got it from SoundCloud.

The RNRL: SoundCloud?

26: Yes. This fella in England wrote it and said anybody could use it.

The RNRL: Did he specifically say you could resell it?

26: [Staring at The RNRL.] Resell it?

The RNRL: Didn’t you say this was the final version of the song and didn’t you ask me how you could sell your song?

26: Yeah.

The RNRL: So, did you and England Dude have a contract? Did you buy the beat from him? Lease it? What?

26: Uhhh…no. He said he’s just happy that somebody wanted it.

The RNRL: So, if this song hits it big, and if England Dude comes to you for part of the royalties, what are you going to do?

26: Oh, I’ll definitely share with him. That’s no problem

The RNRL: And what if he wants more than you’re willing to give him?

26: What? Oh, no. He’s not like that?

The RNRL: And you’ve met him?

26: Oh, yeah. We Skyped, man. He’s my boy.

The RNRL: What does that mean?

26: What does what mean?

The RNRL: What does “he’s my boy” got to do with making a business deal for making sure that the retail and distribution system you are wanting to sell and place your music into knows who to send the money to?

26: Retail? Distribution?

The RNRL: 26, you should read this book about navigating the music business. [Ebook: Hard copy: ]

26: Read?

The RNRL: Yes, 26. Read.

[In a very condescending manner] 26: Look, Rock and Roll Librarian, you don’t know what you are talking about. You are making this thing a whole lot more complicated than it needs to be. I happen to know how to do this.

The RNRL: Okay. [She proceeded to leave him in his alternate universe and stepped back into the real world.]


Stay in the real world. Try these  today:

Gotcha Report Offline Contract Review

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