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Music Business Essay

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I have a feeling opinions are going to be what you're likely to get. (How's *that* for being unambiguous?)

I believe The Industry is hidebound to the concept of songs as "product," but you have to keep in mind The Industry these days is run by accountant types concerned with selling "units" (I have actually seen them call them that) without being too concerned about what those "units" consist of.

Writers, on the other hand--particularly those that perform--are, I think, more likely to consider what they do a *service*. It is a way of thinking that's a bit more personal and includes more respect for the individual--both the seller and the buyer.

Who's right? I have no idea. The Industry, of course, will tell you (in true Outer Limits fashion) "we control the audio, we control the video." (And I'm not sure they actually do.) As a writer, of course, I'm inclined to the other opinion.

That help any?


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Well I guess the main things are to lay out what made music a product in the first place, and what has changed that should make you reconsider your position to calling it a service. The main body should consider the arguments and you should draw your own conclusions. If it is not quite a service yet, what would need to happen to complete it's progress in that direction? Are there any caveats? What are the primary motivators for change?

Where I think you have a problem to address is that there are a diverse range of delivery methods and charging mechanisms. There are still traditional sales ongoing, although in decline, iTunes has the lion's share of legal digital downloads, but piracy still costs the industry millions every year, but then there are new services like spotify to consider that allow listeners to listen for free provided they watch an advert every 20 minutes.

I hope this is of some help.



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I've been reading as much as I can on Music as Business (Passman wrote a book that was very helpful), but I'm finding that even when you seem to have "facts" that they are widely open to interpretation. Problems I'm encountering are:

1) split sheets - composer and lyricist need it no matter what, right? I'm being told that if there is a collaboration, that it's only "fair" to split evenly among those involved. I would agree that might be the case for that specific arrangement, but what if some other entity wants to license the song, or a different band wants to do a cover? Don't you still need to establish Ownership based on who wrote the music and who wrote the lyrics? I realize that copyright law says as soon as you write something and affix © with your name and date it is technically copyrighted... but I've also heard horror stories about people being in the same room as the authors and making comments about the song being written have legally been awarded royalties, even tho they didn't actually help to write the song. Paperwork for ownership wasn't done right away and a loop hole let someone in. Anyone have advice regarding split sheets?

2) If you upload music to sell on SC or OurStage or MySpace, I'm hearing that the site somehow acquires copyright. Can anyone shed light on this? Does this allow them to dictate how and when a song is used, collect/disburse royalties? Are they filling some nebulous role as a pseudo-publisher? If you are registered with BMI or ASCAP and have a song on one of these sites, do they collect royalties for those entities for future disbursement to the artist, or do you keep whatever a song sells for per DL (assuming you chose to make it available for sale there) and are then responsible for making sure all involved get there fair (contractual) share?

3) short of getting an attorney to answer all these issues, can anyone recommend an internet site or a book, or ANY resource that explains all this stuff in a manner that the novice can understand? I just wanted to help make some songs, and the snowball effect is demanding I learn more and more, for self-preservation. He said/she said just doesn't go far enough. I've looked here at Songstuff and gotten what answers I could, but I want/need to learn more and it looks like if you don't know the questions to ask, it is easy to get road-blocked and lost in the maze. I apologize if I high-jacked anybodies thread.


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can anyone recommend an internet site or a book, or ANY resource that explains all this stuff in a manner that the novice can understand?...

If such a source exists, it's one I haven't found.

Why not repost this in the business section, Phil ?

We can get to grips with it.

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