Category Archives: Song Writing

The Dual Purpose of Copyright Law

In this segment from – Mark Davis lectures at a music educators conference at Loyola University New Orleans, entertainment attorney and educator Mark Davis discusses the two (frequently opposed) purposes of copyright law: to protect free transmission of information while giving its creators some control over how that information is distributed and sold.

Music Licensing Deals in Today’s World: Making Money as a Songwriter

Video game royalties, music in apps, movie and television song negotiations, interactive dolls and toys, e cards, performing right organization radio payments, live performance royalties, non-interactive and interactive streaming, downloads and physical product sales, music in ads, Broadway shows, lyrics on clothes, musical toothbrushes – these are but some of the areas where songwriters and composers make money in today’s world of music. Todd Brabec, former ASCAP Executive Vice President and author of” Music Money and Success: the Insider’s Guide to Making Money in the Music Business” will discuss how traditional licensing deals work as well as how new media licenses in the online world are structured and negotiated. He will also talk about how much money can be made in the initial negotiation as well as the back-end royalties that can continue for many decades from song uses throughout the world.

How Record Labels Earn Money under Copyright Law

In this segment of his lecture at a music educators conference at Loyola University New Orleans, entertainment attorney and educator Mark Davis explains how artists and their labels profit from sales of sound recordings and the licensing of those recordings. He also makes some predictions as to how the shift from terrestrial to digital radio will enable record companies to collect additional royalties.


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Real Industry Talk – Career Development At Its Best

Become a Better Songwriter

Berklee Music Presents:  Exclusive: Songwriting Handbook Vol. 1

Become a Better Songwriter with Berklee Online

Get free exclusive songwriting tips and techniques from some of Berkleemusic’s superstar songwriting faculty, like Pat Pattison, Jimmy Kachulis, Ben Newhouse, Brad Hatfield, and Andrea Stolpe.

Berkly Music Presents:  Exclusive: Songwriting Handbook Vol. 1

Handbook Topics

  • 10-Step Process to Successful Commercial Songwriting
  • Song licensing and Placement Opportunities
  • How to Write a Hit Song
  • Making Your Melody Work
  • The Foundation of Your Song: Harmony
  • Setting Your Words to Music
  • How to Avoid Writer’s Block


About Berkleemusic

Berkleemusic is the online extension school of Berklee College of Music, the world’s premier institution for the study of contemporary music for over 65 years. Berklee’s faculty and alumni have won over 200 Grammy Awards and sold over 400 million records.

ASCAP Reports Increased Revenues in 2011

ASCAP Reports Increased Revenues in 2011

Delivers Licensing Innovations, Operational Efficiencies and
Enhanced Services to Members

CEO John LoFrumento Announces Dynamic New Leadership Structure
EVP Randy Grimmett Leads Expanded Membership Department
Vincent Candilora Promoted to EVP, Licensing
Roger Greenaway Named EVP, International

New York, NY, March 8, 2012: ASCAP, the global leader in performance rights
royalty collections and advocacy on behalf of songwriters, composers and copyright
owners, today announced strong revenues of $985 million for calendar year 2011,
the second highest revenues in the organization’s history, and an increase of 5.4%
over 2010. Collections from foreign countries totaled $347 million, an increase of
approximately $50 million over 2010.

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams commented: “The demand for ASCAP’s
repertory across all genres of music is enormous and growing by leaps and bounds,
both domestically and abroad. A major driver of our revenue growth in 2011 was
the popularity of our members’ music abroad, leading to the highest ever foreign
collections bolstered by an advantageous foreign exchange rate. As songwriters and
composers, we depend on the efficiencies of ASCAP to manage our performing rights
in a rapidly changing global economy. ASCAP’s advocacy throughout the world is an
important factor in ensuring fair treatment and compensation for songwriters and
composers of every kind of music.”

Representing more than 425,000 music creators from every genre, the member-
owned organization distributed over $824 million to its songwriters, composers
and music publishers. ASCAP is the only performing rights organization (PRO) to
distribute royalties exceeding $800 million annually, which it has done for the past
four years, delivering a total of $3.3 billion to its members. ASCAP remains among
the most-efficient performing rights organizations with an operating expense ratio
among the lowest in the world — 11.9%, down 2 percentage points from last year.

According to ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento, “ASCAP has been able to deliver
strong financial results for our members through licensing innovations, operational
efficiencies and growth in foreign revenues. We will continue to meet the challenges
of this economy and evolving music marketplace through innovation and by offering
the best model for licensing the most in-demand repertory of music in the world. In
this unsettled time, our goal is to ensure a stable future for our members.”

Toward that end, several multi-year license negotiations were concluded with major
licensees in 2011, including XM/Sirius Radio, HBO, Viacom and the radio industry,
providing security and certainty for ASCAP members for the next five years. The
radio settlement includes a return to a revenue-based fee structure as radio is
broadening its revenue base through new distribution platforms, such as online,
wireless, multicast and HD stations.

In 2011, Netflix, Hulu and Spotify were among the major digital services that signed
ASCAP blanket license agreements. For digital services with billions of performances,
an ASCAP blanket license provides unparalleled flexibility and efficiency. The blanket
license proves a valuable and simple solution to legally perform the ASCAP repertory
of over 8.5 million copyrighted works while respecting the right of songwriters and
composers to be paid fairly. ASCAP has already licensed thousands of new and
established new media services, ranging from start-ups to the biggest players on the
Internet and mobile networks.

ASCAP members continued as the dominant creative forces in music throughout
2011, taking home major honors and awards, and writing the world’s most
performed and best-loved songs, scores and compositions. Oscars went to Trent
Reznor and Randy Newman; Golden Globes to Randy Newman and Diane Warren;
the Pulitzer Prize to Zhou Long; Jay Z, Jeff Beck, Arcade Fire, Josh Kear, Paul Worley
and Esperanza Spaulding won big at the Grammys; Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s
Book of Mormon captured multiple Tonys; Katy Perry became the first woman
to score five #1 singles from the same album; and ASCAP members claimed the
top nine spots on Billboard’s list of the top Hot 100 songwriters of the decade –
Timbaland, Dr. Luke, Pharrell Williams, Max Martin, Rob Thomas, Alicia Keys, Akon,
Scott Storch and Stargate’s Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Hermansen.

ASCAP continued to offer members the best career development, education and
professional recognition through our highly successful and innovative programs,
from the annual ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO to the Sundance/ASCAP Music Café
to TV and film composing workshops to multi-genre songwriting workshops and
songwriting camps, bringing together emerging and hit writers, to our annual award

Also in 2011, ASCAP introduced several enhancements to its online Member Access
interface, providing members with the most advanced online tools in performing
rights for managing their catalogs, royalty statements and more.

New Leadership Structure

ASCAP created a new organizational structure in 2011 which consolidated several
operational areas and expanded the Membership, Licensing and International
departments into synergistic units positioned to deliver enhanced services to
members, operational efficiencies and licensing innovations. Three ASCAP
executives were tapped to the lead the new departments:

EVP, Membership Randy Grimmett was promoted to take on added leadership of
a multi-functional membership department which consolidates member services,
creative services, business affairs, estates and claims, and marketing and
communications into a fully integrated department that is serving the evolving career
needs of members and providing the strongest advocacy for their work.

Vincent Candilora, formerly SVP, was promoted to Executive Vice President,
Licensing, taking leadership of all licensing-related areas including broadcast, cable,
online, wireless and general licensing as well as infringements.

Roger Greenaway, formerly SVP, International, and based in London, is now

named EVP, with all international operations reporting to him, including relationships
with foreign societies, collection of foreign revenues and distributions.

Commenting on the executive promotions, LoFrumento said: “As the only member-
owned performing rights organization, we are committed to providing members
with the best payments, advocacy, services, tools, information and education to
help them succeed now and in the future. Randy Grimmett has proven himself
as a forward-thinking leader who understands how our members are impacted by
business trends and what we need to do to protect their livelihoods. As a strategist
and negotiator, Vincent Candilora’s experience has been an important part of
ASCAP’s ongoing licensing success and he has spearheaded several innovations
in how licensees interface with ASCAP, resulting in reduced costs. Roger
Greenaway’s expertise and deep understanding of the international market have
ensured ASCAP’s global leadership to the benefit of our members, as evidenced by
our 2011 collections.”

[Note: Financial results reported in this press release are un-audited. Independently
audited results will be available in May 2012.]

Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights
Organization (PRO) representing the world’s largest repertory totaling over 8.5
million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 425,000
songwriter, composer and music publisher members. ASCAP has representation
arrangements with similar foreign organizations so that the ASCAP repertory is
represented in nearly every country around the world where copyright law
exists. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing
the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based
upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American PRO owned and governed
by its writer and publisher members.

Press Contacts:
Bobbi Marcus
Bobbi Marcus PR & Events, Inc.

Lauren Iossa
Sr. Vice President, Communications & Media

ASCAP Reports Increased Revenues in 2011

How You Can Clear Cover Songs, Samples, and Handle Public Domain Works By Alex Holz

How You Can Clear Cover Songs, Samples, and Handle Public Domain Works

By Alex Holz (Senior Director of Artist and Community Relations / rightsflow®, inc.)

Limelight Logo

ASCAP members who select “ASCAP” as their PRO affiliation during sign-up receive a special 25% discount on all Limelight service fees.

Limelight is the simplest way for artists to clear cover songs for physical and digital release. Artists can clear ANY song and ensure 100% of royalties are paid to publishers and songwriters.

Five Reasons to Use Limelight:

  • Allows you to clear ANY cover song
  • Licenses never expire
  • Volume discounts
  • Customer support via chat, email, and phone
  • Artists, labels, school groups, church choirs, and other users from over 46 countries and all 50 U.S. states trust Limelight!

Sign-up for FREE and receive the special 25%-offdiscount on Limelight by indicating your ASCAP affiliation during sign-up!

Flying an airplane and performing brain surgery (legally!) require one. So does distributing music. What is it? A license!

Licenses allow you to legally distribute, cover, and adapt music you don’t own or control. Knowing which licenses exist and how to obtain them saves headaches, aggravation, and most importantly — exorbitant legal fees incurred from copyright infringement.

The Golden Rule of Licensing: if you don’t own or control it, you likely need a license to use it.There are a few exceptions (such as public domain compositions), though the golden rule is a common sense guideline that can help determine when licenses are needed.

What do you want to do with the music? In order to determine the appropriate license, you’ll first need to answer some basic questions. Are you recording a cover song or adapting/altering an existing work? Do you want to include a sampled recording, or re-create the music entirely? Are you using a public domain composition, or one that is still protected under copyright? Each presents unique licensing challenges that must be addressed.

Make a Cover Song / “Re-make:”
Cover songs provide an easy way to target a new marketing base when placed alongside your own original works. In the digital age, cover songs can act as effective search engine optimizers for music (especially when you’re covering artists who don’t currently appear on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc.).

As a professional songwriter, you may already be aware that anyone who wants to record a version of your song needs a mechanical license from the copyright owner, usually you or your publisher. Similarly, if you chose to record your own version of someone else’s previously recorded and distributed music, you would need to secure a mechanical license.  A mechanical license is actually a “compulsory” license granted to users under U.S. copyright law.  Usually, music users obtain these licenses through a music publisher or agent (such as Limelight).

There are several entities that can assist in clearing mechanical licenses and ensuring songwriters get paid.  Limelight is a simple, a one-stop shop to clear any cover song in order to distribute by means of digital downloads, physical albums, interactive streaming, and ringtones. Customers create an account and finalize their mechanical licensing and royalty accounting needs within minutes via a simple three-step process for a service fee of $15 per license (or less based on number of licenses) plus required statutory publishing royalties as set by law. Artists, bands and other musical groups can clear any song and ensure 100% of royalties are paid to the appropriate publishers and songwriters.

As a member benefit, ASCAP members receive a 25% discount off all Limelight service fees. To qualify, just designate ASCAP as your PRO upon registration sign-up.

Use a Sample
“Sampling” involves taking an existing piece of copyrighted music and combining it with another to create a new work. While sample usage has been especially prevalent in hip-hop and electronic music over the last 30+ years, samples have also been incorporated into other genres and present challenges in every scenario. Sample clearances are more complicated than cover songs since they can involve two separate copyrighted works (the music composition and the sound recording), multiple rights-holders, and are always subject to negotiation.

For instance, if you want to sample the synth line from Van Halen’s “Jump”, you would need to secure licenses from the record label (for the master), as well as the music publisher (for the underlying musical composition).

If you decided to re-create the synth part yourself as a music bed, it would still require negotiating directly with the music publisher (if they didn’t decide to reject the use entirely).  Unlike a mechanical license, sample usage is not governed by a compulsory license and requires directly negotiating with all parties.  The cost can range from cheap (gratis) to costly depending on the sample(s) being used.   Without licensing from the appropriate copyright owners, you are liable for copyright infringement and can be sued for substantial sums of money.

Record labels and music publishers alike have in-house licensing contacts who handle such requests (some even having online forms). There are several agents and legal consultants who specialize in sample clearance and can assist if you choose to hire one.

Using a Public Domain Work:
Public domain, like sampling, is also a complex area in the licensing world.  Public domain works (as they relate to music) are compositions that are not under copyright or whose term has expired. While a composition may have fallen into the public domain, an arrangement of that composition that possesses sufficient originality may be considered a new composition and thus, protected by copyright.

If you decide to record your own version of a public domain composition, you would not need to secure a mechanical license or pay royalties, unless you are using a copyrighted arrangement of that song. A simple rule of thumb — if you used sheet music to learn it, then you will need to secure a license. You can often find the basic copyright information on the sheet music..

Holiday music is the area where most questions arise. Many classic Christmas songs that are presumed to be in the public domain are in fact copyrighted, so make sure to double-check your sources before deciding a track is in the public domain. Like sampling, public domain is also an area where it is often best to consult a legal expert before distribution.

PD Info Online ( is a good starting point if the liner notes and copyright information are unavailable. Searching the ASCAP repertory ( will also produce valuable contact details in determining whether a work is protected or not.

The licensing world of cover songs, mechanical licenses, sample clearances, and public domain may contain complex rules and regulations for the casual music creator, though one adage holds true: If you ever have a question — don’t be afraid to ask!  Please visit the Limelight site ( — and specifically our FAQ section ( — for additional information and answers to many other questions concerning mechanical licensing.

At RightsFlow (, we’re helping artists, labels, distributors and online music services to license, account and pay songwriters and publishers.

Designed by musicians for musicians, Limelight ( is a simple way to clear any cover song.  Are you ready to clear a song for your release?  Get started and create a free account today!

How You Can Clear Cover Songs, Samples, and Handle Public Domain Works

Six Things To Do When Your Song Is Finished

So you have created a song, taken the time to write, record, arrange and feel great about it.  What do you need to do now?  Well, there are 6 things to keep in mind.

In Six Things To Do When Your Song Is Finished, it outlines some really great information.  Some of the stuff covered is finalizing your lyric sheet, defining a rough recording, scheduling a demo, keeping track of your mixes, backing up your work and creating a pitch plan for your song.

Your lyric sheet should contain all necessary information, such as when it was created, the names of all authors and composers involved in creating the work, and listing publishing information including POR’s associated with the work.  This is important because you want to have all pertinent information available for a record label or music supervisor that may be interested in your work.

There is a specified way to indicate this information once it has been copywritten, as provided by the Copyright Office, see copyright office website for specification.

Creating a rough draft of your recording allows interested parties to get an idea of what the work is intended to sound like.  A rough draft of your recording illustrates that you are serious about your music and that you have a vision in place.  It can be as simple as playing the guitar and singing the words in the style you believe it should sound like.

The article gives great insight on shopping and creating sales pitches.  Ultimately you want to do all you can to position your work to be recognized as a valuable work that can be used and potential generating a revenue stream.  So I encourage you read the article and absorb the valuable information within it.


Six Things To Do When Your Song Is Finished

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