Tag Archive: Digital Music Distribution

  1. 4 Tips to Get Out of Your Songwriting Rut

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    Songwriting is truly an art form. Capturing a story using words and music and portraying that to an audience can be difficult, especially those beginning moments when you are faced with that blank page staring back at you! But there are a few things to think of that may make it a little easier…

    4 Tips to Get Out of Your Songwriting Rut

     

    Think about it a little less literally

    For example, a song is like a conversation. There are certain elements that dictate how this conversation is played out and perceived. You know the words you want to say but the way you say it can change how it is perceived:

    • You may have lyrics written down and can’t decide what melody to go for: If you’re in a conversation and saying something upsetting, you wouldn’t laugh about it… If you’ve written sad lyrics it may not make sense to sing in a minor key if you want to get that feeling across!
    • You may have a melody but can’t think of lyrics: if you’re in a happy environment such as a celebration for a friend, you wouldn’t want to bring that down by starting an argument with someone. The melody is like the environment… how does the melody make you feel? Channel that into words to figure out what topic suits the melody.

    Songwriting is a form of storytelling

    If you are telling a family member about something that happened to you at work, for example, that story might become more refined the next time to you tell it to someone. And over time, the more you talk about it, you find the parts of the story you don’t particularly need to be able to get to the point so you cut those out. Or you find that certain parts aren’t making sense so you add more detail. You can do this when songwriting by performing your song again and again. You’ll find parts of it that don’t quite sound or feel right and then you can change this. You won’t fully understand what direction the song is taking or needs to take until you sit and just belt it out! Nothing is final until it is recorded, so use the time to your advantage.

    To get your ideas flowing you need to get out of your head

    Try not to worry about what you think others want from you or what you think is right to do… what do you want to write about?! What is important to you? What is going on in your life that you can draw on? Also, don’t get bogged down in writing for particular genres, it’s okay to be diverse in your songwriting if that’s how you feel at the time. If you write for other people’s pleasure, not your own, then you may never be happy with what you’re doing. It’s important to be genuine in this industry… again, like a conversation, people value honesty and can spot when you’re not being genuine with them. So don’t take that negative energy into your songs.

    Always be songwriting

    Don’t restrict your songwriting time for when you decide one day that you’re going to sit down and write a song. Carry a small notepad with you everywhere you go! Some of your best ideas will probably come when you’re not actively thinking of song ideas e.g. in your sleep, when you’re inspired by other music, when you see something while walking in the street or driving around. Anywhere! If you have nowhere to note these ideas down then you could forget them as quickly as you’ve thought of them. It doesn’t have to be a full verse or chorus or full topic for a song, it could be a word or sentence or even an image. Just something that later you will look at and think “thank god I wrote that down! I know what to write about now…”

    There is no one way to write a song. Some people prefer to write melody first, some people prefer to write lyrics first. Some people do both at the same time! Find what works for you but remember that it’s okay to take your time and be selfish! Do what is right for you, not everyone else. Obviously there is the small exception of when you are writing a song to a brief, but songwriters that do this still have their own personality that they bring to the song. So it still stands… find your own voice or interpretation of a brief and bring that to any work you are doing!

     


    Written by Help For Bands, who provide free impartial advice and monthly music industry opportunities through their newsletter.

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  2. How Publishing Works – Contracts and Rights Explained

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    How Publishing Works

    How Publishing Works

    Publishing can be a very tricky area of the music industry to understand. As if the concept of what publishing is wasn’t difficult enough, there are a huge number of acronyms and organisations to remember. Luckily we are here to help make sense of it all for you.

    Music publishers are essentially the people who administer the rights for songwriters and composers on a piece of music. When a song is created there can often be songwriters consulted who are not members of the band or performing act. In order to make sure they receive royalties for their work, a song is split into two different parts when dealing with rights. Publishers deal with the rights for the composition of the song and the written work, whereas labels typically deal with the recording of the song as a different component (often known as the master).

    When signing to a publisher in the UK, they will work together with the UK collection society called PRS (similar organisations exist in other countries under different names). The PRS is an organisation that represents songwriters, composers and publishers, collecting royalties on their behalf whenever their music is performed publicly. This can be when the song is played live, on TV, radio or in public places like retail shops.

    As if the split between recording and composition wasn’t confusing enough, there are also a few types of income streams with publishing. These are:

    • Performing Rights.
    • Mechanical Income.
    • Synchronisation.
    • Print Rights.

    Check out this post for more information on what these rights mean.

    Publishing Contracts

    When singing a publishing deal there are a few different kinds of typical scenarios you can expect:

    Single Song Assignment - Also referred to as a specific agreement. This is where the publisher will only publish individual songs and the songwriter is not exclusively signed to them. They can enter into as many single song agreements as they wish. The agreement is also made for a specific period of time.

    Exclusive Writer Contract - This type of deal is more serious and is worth seeking legal advice for before signing. The entire catalogue of the writer is covered by this agreement and could include a recoupable advance for the writer. Make sure to look at the length of the agreement, the territories involved and the royalty split when signing this agreement.

    Administration - This is a different kind of contract where the writer does not sign any publishing rights away, and does not involve any creative endeavours such as sync opportunities. Instead this brings in a third party to handle the administrative work of publishing, such as collecting foreign income through sub-publishers in other territories. The administrator will take a percentage of the royalties for this work.

    Sub-publishing Agreement - This is a deal that publishers make with other publishers and is generally done without the involving the writer. If a publisher feels that the writers work would be better represented in another territory by a different publisher, they will write a sub-publisher agreement to do this. For example, if a publisher in England would like to publish in America they may find an American publisher to work with.  The advantages of this are that that publisher could be an expert in their territory and have good contacts. Royalties would also flow quicker as that publisher can collect more easily for their territory. The disadvantages of this however is that there are more parties taking a cut of royalties before they reach the writer, and  when new developments occur for the writer it can take a long time to update each and every publisher about what is going on.

    Synchronisation - This contract can be made to either a publisher or a specialised sync company. This deal solely covers trying to license music for sync and collecting money from that. Typically there is a 50/50 royalty split between the writer and sync company but this can vary. Specialised companies tend to have better contacts in TV and film companies, but it is worth looking at what successful placements they have done in the past.

    Overall publishing can create a great source of income for artists aside from regular sales of music. It also means you are not missing out on royalties you are potentially owed and creates great exposure opportunities through sync placements. Hopefully this helps you to understand a little more about publishing and what its place is within the music world.

     

  3. Music Rights Explained

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    Music rights can be a very tricky area to understand, with a crazy number of acronyms and collecting societies to remember. In this blog, we will explain a bit about what the PRS (Performing Rights Society) and MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) do for songwriters with publishing royalties, and what PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) do for performers and recording licenses.

    Music Rights Explained

     

    PRS and MCPS

    The PRS are a UK collecting society for songwriters and composers. When using a song for publishing there are 2 different components to the song that collecting societies have to consider.

    These are the songwriters royalties and the recording artists royalties.

    PRS represent the writers, composers and publishers of a piece of music whenever it is played in public. Songwriters can sign up with the PRS who then add your content to their database, and collect any performance royalties on your behalf. This includes whenever a track you wrote is publicly performed, such as in radio, TV, film and video games. This is done by adding a special code called an ISWC to the song that allows PRS to keep track of where the music is played. If you are a writer credited on a track then you will be entitled to publishing royalties through PRS.

    PRS for Music has blanket licenses in place with UK terrestrial TV networks for the use of music on their channels. Any track that is registered with PRS for Music can be used by the TV networks without the need to seek individual clearance. There are no blanket licenses in place in the US, or elsewhere.

    MCPS are another collection society that work to collect royalties on behalf of writers, composers and publishers of a piece of music whenever it is reproduced. Whereas the royalties from PRS are called performance royalties, MCPS collect what is known as a mechanical royalty. These kinds of royalty are made from downloads, streaming and physical sales of music. In order to collect mechanical royalties, you must have a membership with MCPS, who can then send information about your mechanical royalties to PRS. PRS for Music can pay both the mechanical and performance royalties to writers, composers and publishers if you are signed up to both organisations, which means you can collect all your royalties from one place.

    PPL

    PPL are a performance rights organisation that deal with collecting royalties for the performing artists on a track. Rather than PRS who represent songwriters and composers, PPL represent the recording artists and the record label, collecting royalties for the use of their recorded music publicly. If a retail shop wishes to play music in their store, they must buy a license from both the PRS and PPL as they are using the songwriters work as well as the performers work. Any situation in which the recorded music is used would mean paying for a PPL license.

    Income Streams

    It is important to know your right and where you can earn additional royalties from.

    Performing Rights - when music is played in public. Collected by PRS.

    Mechanical Rights - when music is reproduced. You must be a member of MCPS, but the royalty can be paid through PRS.

    Synchronisation - when music is placed with visual images. Can be a deal with a publisher or specific sync companies.

    Print Rights - when sheet music is sold or lyrics are printed. These can be both in physical and digital formats.