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Songwriter: Payment & Royalties

  • 19-02-2013 10:44am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 2 cici2012


    Hi guys! I have some songs that I'd like to get to the more established acts on the Irish scene.

    I have a few questions that I think you could help me with:

    A, Say someone takes a song of mine for their album. Other than performance royalties and for radio play etc (which are pretty small anyway) does the artist have to give me a down payment to use the song on an album in the first place? Or is it just a few cents for the song every time the album sells, i.e. 10 cents every time he/she sells an album.

    B, Who tracks the album sales? And how do people track the album sales sold after gigs etc?

    C, If someone asks you to write a song for them (melody & lyrics) Would you ask for a once off payment? If so what would the normal charge be?

    Thanks a million in advance for any help


Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,047 Kettleson


    A, Say someone takes a song of mine for their album. Other than performance royalties and for radio play etc (which are pretty small anyway) does the artist have to give me a down payment to use the song on an album in the first place? Or is it just a few cents for the song every time the album sells, i.e. 10 cents every time he/she sells an album.

    It is whatever terms you agree with them, not unless you have signed over management of your songs to a copyright management agency, say IMRO/MCPS

    For example if you register your songs with IMRO/MCPS, the artists publisher/record label of your song would agree the fee with IMRO/MCPS. Its worked out on a "how many CD's are you gonna sell and for how much?".

    Or if its a digital sale, your fee is a % of the RRP. I'm not exactly sure what the percentage that you the copyright owner would get, but I'm guessing about 10% or perhaps less. (Normally the digital download provider collects the royalty payment at source/point of sale and passes this onto the copyright owner).

    If you manage it yourself, and someone really wants to cover your song, you can sell them the rights to do so at whatever price you agree, or even for free if it would be to your benefit.

    For example you could say, "You can release 500 CD's with my song/songs on it and I want 20 cent, per song for every CD you press". If you go that route, put it in writing. (You would normally ask for the money in advance for all 500 potential sales). Whether or not the CD's sell is up to the publisher/artist.

    Or if you want to get recognition as a song writer, it might be in your interest to let others record it and publish it with no fee payable to you.

    In that instance you would sign a "No Claims Agreement" where you allow them use of the song for free (within a limited context, say 1,000 CD's) but you retain copyright ownership for other projects and recordings.

    You could also include an agreement to share any subsequent broadcast/performance royalties. (If the songs were officially published by a PPI/PRS member).

    If you get a few hits and get recognised as a good songwriter, and artists want to record your songs for the first time, you can within reason, name your price.

    Notionally if you were to turn up at a gig, and somebody was flogging CD's with your song on it, without permission, that is a copyright infringement. But you have to prove that you wrote the song if it ended up on court, which is a good reason to use an organisation like IMRO to look after your copyright ownership for you.

    Friends of mine have been approached to sell the copyright ownership of songs for as little as €200. And that means selling it completely.

    There was a time a few years ago when established song writers were selling songs for a couple of thousand, either giving away all rights completely, or keeping some royalty share if the song was a hit.

    If I were you I would register your songs with IMRO, they handle the use of your songs for you.


    B, Who tracks the album sales? And how do people track the album sales sold after gigs etc?

    Sales of albums, CD's, dowloads officially released through recognised outlets are tracked by:

    GFK Chart-Track
    www.chart-track.co.uk/

    Albums sold at gigs are not officially recorded for chart or any other official purposes.


    C, If someone asks you to write a song for them (melody & lyrics) Would you ask for a once off payment? If so what would the normal charge be?

    See above:D

    Hope that helps:D

    EDIT: MCPS is The Mechanical Copyright Protection Service, which is a partner organisation with IMRO.

    FOOTNOTE: Some copyright owners/song writers are known for being very, very reluctant to allow any other artist to cover their songs, unless they are going to do the song "justice", and these are songs which are very well known worldwide.

    For example, if I was working on a recording project with a band in the studio, the first thing I would do would be to ask "Have you got permission to cover this song?".

    Technically as the song has been released and is in "the public domain" anyone can request permission to cover it, at a price. However songwriters who are reluctant to let anyone cover their songs can set the cover fee at a high price or can refuse to let it be covered/published at any cost.

    However a singer with whom I was working with was intending to record a well known song. I contacted the artists label by phone (who also managed the copyright ownership) in London to enquire as to its availability for cover. I was asked for my contact details they then contacted their head office in America.

    I was then within a day or 2, sent a Cease and Desist Notice, and given standard documentation to fill out to request permission to record the song.

    We didn't pursue the recording any further, as the artist and copyright owner would have had to have agreed to allowing/approved our version of the song before it was made public, and would have then requested a fee also.

    With limited finances we didn't want to fund the recording, then send the unreleased demo off for approval, and then get the bill for the requested fee, if our version was approved. So we didn't go ahead with the recording.

    And that is entirely proper and correct procedure, as many artists don't want their songs to be messed with.

    There's also the issue of sampling, for example the case of Gilbert O'Sullivans copyright management Grand Upright Music Ltd versus Warner Bros. Records Inc., where rapper Biz Markie, signed to Warner Bros, sampled O'Sullivans song "Alone Again Naturally" without permission. O'Sullivan won the case.

    Here is a short video where O'Sullivan talks about the case. Good man him!

    http://youtu.be/LsAjmtKLz2M

    FOOTNOTE2: You might wish to sign your songs over to a Publishing House. Publishing Houses normally request a 50% copyright ownership of your songs. Publishing houses would/should then promote/plug your songs to artists/record labels, etc. I have no experience of how effective they are.

    FOOTNOTE3: The Ray Heffernan, Robbie Williams "Angels" story is an interesting read:

    From Wiki:

    The writing credits attributed to the song were Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers.

    However, it later emerged that an unknown Irish songwriter, Ray Heffernan actually composed much of the song a year earlier.

    In an interview with RTE, Heffernan said that he met Williams in a Dublin pub and brought him back to his home where they embarked on a songwriting session. Heffernan played him the basis of what would become "Angels" and they recorded an early version of it.

    Heffernan acknowledges however that Guy Chambers later added the chorus. Heffernan was paid £7,500 for the use of the song, relinquishing any rights to royalties. He was uncredited as a songwriter but received a cryptic message on the CD, saying: "Even fallen angels laugh last, thanks to Ray Heffernan".

    Robbie Williams has said that he wrote the song with Guy Chambers in 25 minutes and the song is about his aunt and uncle. Williams and Chambers were sitting outside a cafe watching a water fountain, this is what inspired them for the chorus.

    Williams is irritated that many people assume it was written by his former co-writer Guy Chambers. In an interview he said; "It pees me off because everyone thinks Guy penned "Let Me Entertain You" and "Angels", but they're my songs."[/B


  • Registered Users Posts: 2 cici2012


    Thank you so much for your great reply Kettleson, it is very much appreciated. Thank you :)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,047 Kettleson


    cici2012 wrote: »
    Thank you so much for your great reply Kettleson, it is very much appreciated. Thank you :)

    You are very welcome cici. Big up to original songwriters!


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