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Publishing Co-op Thoughts (&c.)...


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UPDATES FIRST, again. No word from the Harvest Festival—I assume that means “no.” Maybe if I want to be involved as a performer, I need to be involved in the future in helping book the entertainment. (That would be fun, anyway.) All that stuff is done by volunteers, after all.

No word, either, from the Penguins band about whether they’re interested in performing “You Could Be The One,” the poem of T-Poe’s I set to music. That may not happen, either. “Distraction” (Diane Ewing) and “Rotten Candy” (me) are at least recorded, and there is a little serious discussion going on on Whitby Shores about the publishing co-operative idea.

NEW SONG (finally). I was procrastinating about mowing the lawn (procrastination is not a growth inhibitor, alas) and wondering how to make it more motivational. Guys like to feel what they’re doing is important, whatever it is, and that prompted couching the lawn-mowing exercise as a medieval-style crusade, defending the fortress (and the princess, of course) against Evil Forces. “Doing Battle with the Lawn” isn’t a bad song, but it still hasn’t motivated me to mow the lawn.

Biggest challenge was keeping it from sounding like another famous country song I’d had running through my head, “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down,” but I changed the rhyming scheme slightly, and I think that took care of it. Recorded it mostly in two takes; now it’s posted, with the promotional announcements in the usual places, and we’ll see if anyone likes it. I still haven’t mowed the lawn.

PUBLISHING: Here’s a potential model for the Publishing Co-operative. In southern Oregon, the Grange owns and operates a chain of hardware stores. Presumably, the members of the Grange shared the upfront costs in creating that business; now that it’s in business, when you go to the hardware store, you pay for what you use. Prices are pretty good, because the Grange is a nonprofit. The markup on what you buy at their hardware store goes first to pay operating expenses, and then presumably if there’s anything left (and there may not be) it goes to the membership. When I joined the Grange back in the 1980s, my dues were (theoretically) my share of all the investments the organization had made over the previous 110 years.

What are the startup costs for the Publishing Co-operative? Not much different from Outside Services Ltd.’s, I think: registration with BMI or ASCAP, plus any performing rights organizations in any countries outside the U.S. we wanted to do business in; registration with the Harry Fox Agency for mechanical rights; a Website; and a business license wherever the “company” headquarters was. Incorporation costs, too, and state registration—wouldn’t want the members liable for debts of the organization, if there were any. A few hundred to a couple thousand dollars in all, maybe—split among the “members” who originally put it together.

And then? I think the co-op maintains a Resource Base and a Knowledge Base. The latter is free; the former is on a pay-for-what-you-use basis. It’s a lot like the Grange hardware store, again—if you need plumbing advice, there’s somebody who can help you, and it doesn’t cost you a dime. If you need plumbing parts, you pay for them.

Need to copyright a song? Forms and instructions are on the Website. Want to pitch a song? The Contact List is there, too, along with input from people about what worked and what didn’t, and maybe why. (That, I think, would be the most valuable information we all could have.) All that is free because any costs you incur in using the information are your costs. All the organization did was make information available.

On the services end, I think one of the biggest services the organization could provide is cheap demos. A lot of people spend a lot of money having recordings made to pitch their songs—and to the extent the resources were available in the membership, it could be a lot cheaper. Consider: if we’ve got a guy or girl with studio equipment and the ability to use it (and they might not even be in the business, or might be small-timers wanting to make a name for themselves), it’s possible to assemble the parts for a recording—a bass player from one location, a drummer from another, a female vocalist from a third, and so on—and have them send their pieces as *.wav files to the studio person, who’d mix them. I’ve done collaborations that way, with musicians from all over the globe.

Of course, you’d pay for it—like the Bible says, “the laborer is wirth his hire”—but it wouldn’t cost much. Everybody involved would be getting exposure for what they can do, and that’s worth something, too. And you could do whole albums that way, not just demos. So the cost of being your own record company wouldn’t be as daunting as it is now.

Before the idea gells too much (I can obsess about good ideas), I’d need to find out if other people would be interested—and how many. I still need to form my own publishing company, because I’ve got an album to do, but maybe it can be a business model for someone else. Even the co-op.

Joe

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