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What up Playa? By now you should be getting the big picture. There ain’t no business like show business. But here's the problem, you keep putting on the show, but you ain’t handling the business. If you are like many of the young artist coming-up in the game, you probably don’t have a strong grasp on the Music Industries many rules and regulations. You might have read an article here or there, or even picked up a book or two about the music business, but chances are that unless you’re a lawyer you probably didn't understand it. Relax, I got your back. Look at me as sort of your music business guardian angel, here to help you add a little business to your show. Let’s face it, the music business is a well-oiled machine designed to do one thing, and that is make money. Throughout your career you will notice that at every corner you turn there is someone who is waiting to benefit from your talent and success. Regardless to how large you may become, you will never be able to completely eliminate the middleman. Go ahead and screw up your face if you want, but if you think you can cross out the middleman then you need to close your eyes and go back to La-La-Land, 'cause homie your still dreaming. Even when you become a Hip Hop mogul like Russell Simmons or P-Diddy, you still have answer to someone else, and they are usually making more money then you are. Alright, here is where I will stop myself because I am known for going off on a tangent about the many, many economic inequalities of the music business. So with no further delay, let's talk about getting paid…
Get Your Money Right
Now that we have established other people are going to be making money off of your talents, lets focus on how you can begin to get your beak wet too. During the week I get a million and one emails with questions about the music business. The one question that comes up the most is, "what is Publishing and what does it have to do with me?" Publishing is quite a difficult topic; so I will explain it as simple as humanly possible. Sit down class and pay attention.
Publishing is money earned from the songs that you have written. This money comes from two separates sources.
Source #1: Mechanical Royalties-This is the money that record companies pay to the publisher for songs that have been mechanically recorded(pressed-up) on record or CD.
Source #2: Public Performance Income-Better known as performing rights, this allow others to use your music in different mediums such as; radio, t.v., movies, etc.
Pump the brakes, Playa! Your not entitled to all of the money, just a portion of it. Let me explain. All money made from music publishing is simple known as Publishing Royalties. Publishing royalties are broken down into two separate shares; publishers share and writers share. Think of the shares as a pie with two halves; the publishers side represents 50% of the pie and the writers share represents 50% of the pie, and together they represent 100% of Music Publishing Income.
The publisher is the party that collects both shares and then pays the writer's share to the writer or writers of the song. The Publisher is the one who owns or controls the copyright of the song. This means that they have the rights to do with it as they please, such as licensing(renting) it out for movies, or sheet music. Also, granting permission to other singers to re-record it. At some point, you as a songwriter are going to have to deal with a Publisher on some level, whether you decide to self-publish or not. The main advantage to self-publishing is that your are the sole controller of your copyrights, but unless you have the time, energy, and resources to do what a publisher does, you better learn to play "Let's Make A Deal."
What a Publisher can do for you the Songwriter
• Copyright your songs so your butt is covered around the world.
• Make sure your songs are used in every imaginable medium, such as: radio, video games, downloadable ring-tones, movies, etc.
• Hook up manufacturing and distribution deals for music books and sheet music of your songs.
• Register your songs with collections agencies like BMI, ASCAP, SEASAC, and the Harry Fox Agency.
• Protect you from copyright infringers trying to steal your material by sampling, file-sharing, and bootlegging.
• Develop and Promote you as a writer.
• Negotiating licensing deals on your behalf
Your best bet is to set-up a co-publishing agreement with a large publisher; this way you will ensure that things will be done correctly, without you losing your mind in the process. There are far too many types of publishing agreements to get into detail, but you have to always agree to the deal you can live with. Think long-term and your money will grow, think short-term and the next song you write may be one for Food Stamps.
Sahpreem A. King is a Multi-Platinum record producer, and book author of Gotta Get Signed: How to Become a Hip Hop Producer", available on Schirmer Trade Books. For more info visit: http://www.becomeahiphopproducer.com
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