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I posted this as a reply to "Music Business Essay" and it was recommended I repost it here as it's own topic. At least I won't feel bad about high-jacking someone's thread this way. These are just the beginnings of my questions.

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.

Phil

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Phil.

Two places where you can always get answers and guidance, and be pointed in the right direction for the rest, are your local Musicians’ Association and whichever of BMI/ASCAP you’ve elected to handle your royalties. It’s what they’re there for – to serve their membership.

At least, I always found the parallel organisations in the UK to be incredibly helpful, practical, and patient. Fantastic help. Currently, I have no complaints about SOCAN up here in Canada. They even offer workshops and educational/informational resources on a regular touring basis. What do BMI/ASCAP get up to in that area ?

I mean, short of getting an attorney.

Split sheets ?

When I register a tune with SOCAN, I enter the percentage split in little boxes and they notify the other guy and if he says ‘yeah, that’s right’ then that’s how they share the booty. Is that what you mean by a split sheet ?

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.
We need their names and phone numbers so we have a chance of finding any actual facts that are at risk of being involved. Could be verging off into urban myth territory. People talk a lot of crap sometimes. I mean, I really need to know details. Not rumours and misunderstanding.

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?
Dunno.

First I’ve heard of it.

But I think we need to find out for sure even though I don’t have time myself right now.

Anyone else read the terms and conditions for these sites ?

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on the myspace et al. question it really depends on the terms.

If I remember right that they acquire a license (ie you give them permission as the copyright owner) for worldwide distribution (needed for the internet) and the right to edit it to create promotional works.... however it does revoke if you cancel your account. May be different on different sites.

they do acquire a split on sales through them (as you would perhaps expect)

rather than rumor it is a good idea to understand the terms of copyright ownership and typical clauses, and there for what you are agreeing to or not agreeing to with any specific contract.

I have one track on myspace deliberately, future tracks will be released through itunes and the like so myspace is purely a promotional tool and that song is effectively a promotional expense. the track is only available for streaming. If I upload more tracks they will be clips. That is a big if.

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I've been doing some internet collaborating, where a basic composition gets uploaded and those parts still needed to fill out the song are auditioned and added. Eventually the song gets completed and mixed, but beyond that nothing much was getting done with finished tracks, other than getting them posted on soundclick or a similar site.

I auditioned lyrics and they were accepted. The song isn't going to be a hit single, but it turned out pretty good.

I emailed the music composer and mentioned that we should probably do a split sheet - dividing the song 50/50 since we are the two authors.

I also emailed the person who owns the site and mixes the tunes and even plays instruments on some of them to let him know what I was suggesting to the composer, and that we might want to take this specific mix and post it on OurStage to see if maybe it could get some positive attention and get some fans interested for suture collaborations.

I got some initial resistance to the split sheet - I was told it was a collaboration and everyone should benefit. I agreed in principle, concerning that mix, but told him the basic song and lyrics still belonged to the composer and lyricist and it was up to us to get it down on paper and if we wanted to register the copyright at some future point we would need the split sheet. Also if we wanted to do another version or license it's use by some other entity. I haven't told him yet, but we should actually license the version that we did on his site for use on OurStage.

Am I not looking at this the right way? It does belong to just the two of us who wrote it, right? And we decide who uses it and for how long and for what licensing fee? We didn't contract before hand that we would share profits for the version that was created on his site, or how they would be shared, but that is ultimately up to the owners as well, isn't it? I'm willing to share profits for this song and I'm willing to be equitable, I don't think it'll ever make tons of $$$, but we couldn't have gotten it to it's current version without the help we had. I also understand that he made the mix and has invested time, but don't we get to say if it gets used or not, and if we choose to make a different mix, that is up to us as well. None of us contracted any work to one another yet - but since I wrote the lyrics and there was only one composer of the music and that is what I used to write the lyrics, (all the rest happened after the fact) - then the two pf us are entitled to contract with one another and get the split sheet done.

I know this is all confusing, but I know paper work is critical for proving ownership - and I want to do this the right way and set a precedent on this site so that it is easier to get the correct papers signed early in any future collaborations. Any advice or wisdom - any information that helps me to understand how it all should proceed to protect what we are creating would be helpful.

I've read Passman's book and several others. Reading one now by the Brabec Brothers - but having knowledge isn't real helpful when you are fighting against so many misconceptions - and I haven't found a similar situation described in any of the books I read - maybe that should have been a red flag to warn me away. But I have to work with the situation I've got and would appreciate any help anyone can offer to understand how I need to proceed from here.

Phil

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I know this is all confusing
Yes, it is.

For example:

I got some initial resistance to the split sheet
.... from whom ?

The composer, or the site-owner?

Do the words 'initial reluctance' mean there was eventual acceptance ?

Or does disagreement continue ?

You still haven't explained exactly what you mean by a 'split sheet'.

But the circumstances clearly suggest the wisdom of getting explicit agreement from a collaborator about shares BEFORE working.

Having said that, it is certainly not unknown nor uncommon for a third party who played some significant and strategic role in the genesis and development of a recording to expect some authoring share as a legitimate reward, Managers, publishers, producers and studio owners all do this - especially if they are cutting some kind of deal for you. It is regarded as a legitimate quid pro quo.

If this site-owner mixed the track and even plays instruments on it, what's in it for him otherwise ?

I haven't told him yet, but we should actually license the version that we did on his site for use on OurStage.
Naughty, naughty.

This suggests to me a potential conflict between the rights in the song (owned by lyricist and composer) and the rights in the recording (arguably owned by the geezer who mixed and polished the finished product - 'created on his site'). This means that he can't use the song without your permissions and you can't use the track without his permission.

You could also find he has claim under the recent concept of 'neighbouring rights' anyway - 'though I don't know whether this concept stands in your jusrisdiction.

It does belong to just the two of us who wrote it, right?
The song does - the track doesn't.

And we decide who uses it and for how long and for what licensing fee?
Your moral rights preserve control over useage ok - but I don't think a fee would actually be your decision alone - that would be based on agreement with the licensor.

We didn't contract before hand that we would share profits for the version that was created on his site, or how they would be shared, but that is ultimately up to the owners as well, isn't it?

No.

You can withhold your permissions for site-owner to use your song - but that still won't make you the owner of that particular track.

If you choose to make a different mix then THAT will be yours.

I've read Passman's book and several others. Reading one now by the Brabec Brothers
Don't know either of those authors - how about complete details ?

would appreciate any help anyone can offer to understand how I need to proceed from here.
Did you follow-up on my two suggestions of the Musicians' Association and ASCAP/BMI ?

The internet is unreliable for advice of this nature.

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Planning on self marketing the music over the internet - at least initially. I'm wearing the publishing hat as well as lyricist and perhaps in some cases I will be representing other talent. What I would like to do financially is:

Just for Illustration I'll use one download and have it = $1... so everything will be in terms of cents on the dollar of one download. If more than one person is involved in each category - they will split that share evenly. If one person performs multiple tasks, they collect a share or portion of a share for each task.

Music composer - 15 cents

Lyricist - 15 cents

Producer - studio tech - 10 cents x 10k downloads

vocalist/play instrument - 3 to 5 cents x 10k downloads (I know that is overly optimistic, but who knows with a decent song and we are going to have to limit total number of people playing on tracks)

the balance to administrative fees - once those are paid the rest reverts to the composer/lyricist. After the download caps are met the rest reverts to the composer/lyricist.

Please feel free to shoot holes in my logic - I need to know why it won't work and if there is an alternative. In a perfect world I would be able to pay all these other people on a Work-for-hire basis - but I'm thinking this would act to defer payment until some revenue was generated - and I think it is comparable to if not over what scale would be for the same work.

Thanx for taking a look - Phil

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Lazz,

Thank you for responding.

I approached the site manager/producer as a courtesy, to let them know I was going to email the composer regarding signing a split sheet. I've only ever seen it or read about it under that name.

You can make your own song split sheet by simply printing out a word document with the following fields:

Song Title

Names of the writers

% of ownership for each writer

Names of the publishers

% of ownership for each publisher

Month and year in which the work was completed

Then have you and your collaborators sign at the bottom.

Keep a copy for your records and give a copy to each co-writer.

If you are not under contract with a publisher or label, then you are your own publisher. By filling out this document, you are simply documenting the ownership of the song for later reference when it is recorded in a commercial setting.

I was told there was no need for a split sheet because under the project roster on the site for that song, it listed by name who composed the music, wrote the lyrics, performed on the song. I told him that was all well and good for whatever arrangement was created on the site, but the original music and lyrics preceded all the other added material, and composer and lyricist jointly own the song and can use it in other arrangements, or license it for use by other entities. There are no labels or publishers or other conventional industry entities involved in this. The songs are just there for the sake of those who created them, and as far as I know have not been used by anyone for anything commercial. I wanted more for the songs I wrote the lyrics for. I am willing to try to market them on sites over the internet and try to get them placed in other media.

The site manager agreed that the composer and I owned the original material, but if we wanted to use the arrangement on the site we needed to make sure everyone involved was compensated. Then he proposed that the composer and I should each get 15% and the other 70% should be split, based on involvement, among the other participants. But, he said, If we had a split sheet and belong to ASCAP or BMI and whatever site the song sold on collected royalties for those entities, we the owners shouldn't get anything.

As one of the owners and de facto publisher (I'm doing all the admin stuff regarding getting the song sold), don't I get to decide whether or not I will license the use to his site, and who gets what percentages for work? And for how long? And if someone doesn't agree to it, do I have the right to take the song and find someone(s) more amenable to the percentages I decide on? I don't mean to sound greedy, but how much control over my own property do I have, having no agreements or contracts with anyone prior to having initiated the project to make the song? There would be any $$$ involved for anyone, if I hadn't brought it up and offered to take care of the details.

I don't even think the song will sell that well, but I'm trying to use it to set a precedent for future projects and songs and have that be part of the process in creating the songs. Get the money and contracts out of the way first, then proceed making decent music, then decide if it merits the effort involved in trying to sell it. Also, a lot of the internet site require enough material for at least an EP - and would like enough for an album - so we are looking at 24 - 28 minutes, maybe an hour, of songs. Getting all the $$$ issues out of the way once and for all would make it run more smoothly.

I hope I have given specific and accurate accounts of the details as I understand them - Anyone have any helpful information? Or am I being unrealistic?

Phil

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I wanted more for the songs I wrote the lyrics for.
More what ?

he said, If we had a split sheet and belong to ASCAP or BMI and whatever site the song sold on collected royalties for those entities, we the owners shouldn't get anything.
That is just complete bollocks - and a very bad sign.

Attempting to mislead someone about there legal rights can be a criminal offence in the UK - don't know what the consequences might be in the US.

As one of the owners and de facto publisher (I'm doing all the admin stuff regarding getting the song sold), don't I get to decide whether or not I will license the use to his site, and who gets what percentages for work? And for how long?
I thought these questions had been answered.

And if someone doesn't agree to it, do I have the right to take the song and find someone(s) more amenable to the percentages I decide on?
I thought this had been answered also. If you make a deal with anyone then you can't be the sole decider - both parties have to agree - that's why it's called an 'agreement'. But yeah, you own it you can do what you want with it, you can shoot yourself in the foot if you want to.

Anyone have any helpful information?
I will repeat my advice for the last time.

The internet is a god-awful place to seek advice on matters like this.

The two places to seek guidance are your local Musicians' Association and ASCAP or BMI - whichever one you have joined. If you haven't joined, stop faffling about and do it.

Good luck.

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I'm going to go ahead and say "Thank You Lazz", because that's just the kind of person I was raised to be. I came to this site with this issue hoping to get some constructive advice, and if I'm not being clear enough regarding the particulars, then I apologize. I had hoped that someone here had experienced a similar situation regarding internet collaboration.

I don't know how to pull information from another comment and have it in the quote box - so I'll just try to answer the questions you brought up.

More what? More attention than they were getting sitting on the site as newly created songs, but not having anything further done with them.

As far as referencing that "...thought those questions had been answered..." Did you mean that I had answered them myself in the examples I gave, or the answers are somewhere in the body of music law that exists and I need to dig around until I find them?

Were you being metaphorical about me shooting myself in the foot or were you making the recommendation that I actually do so? I didn't mean to imply that I was making agreements and then wanting to break them to get a better deal for myself. So, once again, I sincerely apologize for not being more clear. I am willing to abide by any agreement that gets made collectively regarding the song(s). What I'm asking about is, Do the co writers of the song get to decide whether or not the site gets to market the final song? Esp. since any conditions for compensation we NOT made before hand, and now there is confusion and disagreement about which party "deserves" what percentage.

I didn't realize you had repeated your advice so often, I'm sorry I've caused you to relive the horrors of having to do so yet again. I am a member of ASCAP, I'm not in the habit of faffling about (unless women are really attracted to fafflers, then I'll get into the habit), and I still don't know why you would want me to shoot myself in the foot?

Phil

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Lazz - thanx for directing me to ASCAP - I have just recently joined and got my membership card back. I've been a member of this forum for longer than I've been a member there, and when I have an issue or question, this is where I've gotten help in the past, and this is the first place that I think about seeking help. But you are right, they represent me and probably have the answers and resources I need. I'm adding a copy of what I sent to them and will also post their response here - just on the off chance that it might help someone in the future. Based on how you responded to my initial postings, Lazz, I think it helped me to be more concise about my situations and hopefully less biased. Thanx again - Phil

I have been writing lyrics for a couple of years and am finally getting songs made. I have done a couple of those songs on an internet collaboration site - but the site doesn't do anything with the songs once they are finalized. I wanted to get a "split sheet" done with the music writers and myself and then later pursue registering copyright. As a courtesy to the site owner, I told him of my intentions and he responded that "it isn't necessary because the song project roster shows who owns what part of the song". I told him I was more comfortable having a written contract for my files and everything needed to be as legal as possible so that if/when we wanted to try to market the song(s)I could have proof of my involvement. He responded "do you really think it's fair for just you and the composer to get paid, shouldn't the rest of the participants get a share?" I replied that yes, I thought if the composer and I decided to license the site to use the version that was produced there, that we would come up with an equitable scale, but we might want to have a different arrangement of the song made, in which case only he and I and whoever else we used for that arrangement would benefit. I wrote the lyrics based on the initial MP3 that was provided to me by the composer BEFORE any other work was done on the song. Also, the site had/has no mechanism in place to market or sell finished music and no contracts for the participants. By doing the split sheet and establishing our ownership, then acting as our own publishers and trying to sell the song, are the cowriters the ones to make all those decisions or does the site owner need to be included? I've done some reading, but can't find similar situations - and I want to do this legally and not only avoid future problems, but try to use these first couple of songs to set a precedent on the site for further collaborations. I would like to be able to use the songs that get produced on the site, they are of very good quality, but not if I have to give up any profits. BTW, I was also informed by the site owner, who also produces some of the songs that, "if you do a split sheet and are registered with ASCAP, and if they collect royalties from the internet sites we use to sell songs on, then you don't get any of the profits from any sales". As the cowriters int he absence of a label or publisher, don't we have control over the song and determine who gets paid how much for whatever work they did? And then, only if we decide to license the that site to market the song int he first place?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I would like to continue working with that particular site, but only if we can come to some agreement. If what he is saying is correct, then I'll abide by that, but given the circumstances and what I've read, it doesn't seem like he knows the legalities. Help please. And if I am wrong or misinformed, please let me know.

Phil Armstrong

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Hi Phil.

When I said that I thought those questions had been answered I meant that I thought that I had been the guy who answered them in this very thread when you first asked them - so I felt a little frustrated that you hadn't seemed to have read what I took time to write - hope you'll forgive me for that - it happens quite a lot.

And the 'shooting yourself in the foot' was meant to be ironic - I was imagining you going in to a potentially rewarding deal somewhere and blowing it because of an approach made of demands rather than reciprocity.

Good news that you've joined ASACAP - just the ticket.

I would recommend a 'phone call rather than a letter though.

Real clarification of the issues happens easier when there is a to-and-fro of dialogue and ambiguities can be resolved immediately.

Will save having to write more letters, too.

It will be interesting for me and I am sure of great benefit to others if you keep us abreast of developments.

I myself have no experience whatsoever of internet collaborations.

And that site you are involved with smells a little funny to me.

I am glad you are serious about your work and ready to be business-like in dealings.

Very refreshing

Good luck.

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I'm not sure what is going on here Lazz, but of the replies you posted to this thread, the one about "foot-shooting" was the only one that was visible for me to read. Now I see two other replies from you and one from John that had not been there before. The number count on the comments was 10, but there were only six I think. I try to read all the comments that get posted, and now I can see that you were answering my questions. But honestly, they weren't there for me to see before now. That's why I was frustrated, you referred to answering questions, but I wasn't seeing them - so very sorry. Thanx - Phil

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