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This causes confusion and can ruin friendships… quickly.

Recapturing You Copyrights

I helped write that song. Dimension Films 6th Cir. That is an urban legend. If you take any amount of a sound recording, you could be sued. Copyright infringement can be incredibly detrimental to your career and bank account. You can even have customs seize infringing goods at the border and impound them. If the track has been released through a label, for example, then you might have to do some digging to find out who the copyright owner is.

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Mixing and mastering engineers are some that may want a share of the royalties. Can they? There are some who do, and some who do not. In some situations, the [mix engineer] will say they want this much money and a percentage. This sounds like it can be a good deal, and some artists may jump at this. The wording of this information with the agreements is very important. When are these paid out?

How often? Does this include the whole album or just the song they collaborated on? These gray areas need to be shaded in, and an attorney can certainly assist with this.

This ensures that you and your engineers are on the same page and are expecting the same deliverables from each other. For example, you could have one bit, The Music Modernization Act was a major discussion up until its signing into law by President Trump in October of Technology moves very quickly. This inherently creates problems. Streaming compensation is pitiful. Not much has changed this year. With a reported The Music Modernization Act is out to clean up some of the mess in the royalties world, too. Once you have a chord progression down, knowing which notes make up each chord will aid in finding that great melody and harmony to your song.

However, with knowledge there is power, and being aware of these things will only strengthen your songwriting skills. I remember having written my first song and wanting to get it registered with the Copyright Office. I was told by seasoned writers not to worry about doing that with my first songs.

They said once a song is signed and cut then the publisher will get it copyrighted.


The Business of Songwriting – The Stuff Songwriters Hate | The Essential Secrets of Songwriting

They were right, my attitude changed over time. It validated to me that I was a songwriter. So, I would encourage you to go ahead and register yours with the Office of Copyright. Wherever you are, always have something available to jot down notes of songwriting ideas you come up with. These ideas will come and sometimes at inopportune times. I would also encourage you to have a notepad and pen by your bed. I figured I would remember what it was in the morning and then I could write it down then.

Wrong choice! I never remembered what it was.


A great songwriting exercise is to rewrite the lyrics to some of your favorite songs. You already have the advantage of working with an existing melody. Try rewriting one of the verses to the song and see if you can keep the verse pointing to the message of the chorus while providing a different angle than the other verses give. Use the same amount of syllables and stress points within those syllables. Each piece must fit into place and contribute to the overall image the song is painting.

Working with a co-writer can be a very rewarding experience.

The misconception of using someone else’s tracks in your song

It has been for me. You can read that here. When you work with someone else on a song it opens up so many more creative ideas. As long as each person is willing to compromise on certain areas and is supportive of the other a great song can be produced! You need to be able to accept that your first songs will probably not win you a Grammy. It takes time and practice to get great at songwriting. Look at those first songs as building blocks along the way. You will get better with each one. Give yourself permission to produce not so great songs. But until then, give yourself a break. These tasks represent significant changes benefiting songwriters and publishers, and will be part of a completely new system governing how streaming services pay out publishing royalties.

Soon, the MLC will work similarly, and its creation will help those seeking to collect mechanical royalties from streaming. The royalty is calculated differently depending on the format: physical formats and digital downloads currently receive the greater of 9. In general, all one has to do to license a composition for use in a recording is to notify the owner s and pay the mechanical royalty rate.

Believe it or not, this process dates to ! At the time, the music publishing business was essentially the entire music business, and given the power held by music publishers, Congress was worried about them becoming monopolies. Before the streaming era, the mechanical licensing process was straightforward: record companies and others planning to distribute sound recordings sent a letter to the owner of the underlying composition and paid the mechanical royalty for each.

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The Harry Fox Agency handled virtually all of these mechanical royalty payments, and will continue to do so for physical releases. Spotify has licensed 50 million tracks already, and in April, the company estimated that 40, additional tracks were uploaded every day.

Music Modernization Act: Mechanical Licensing - Music Publishing - Songwriting - Copyright Law

Every one of those tracks has a songwriter, maybe a publisher, and often several of both. The numbers are staggering, yet every one of those tracks needs to be licensed. The demands of streaming music created a colossal mess.