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Demo Band Copyright Question

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Hey all,

Let's say that I've got some songs (registered with the Copyright office) I want to get to a publisher. But I want to try them out locally first. And I want a band to play them and cut a demo so I can sent this to publishers, in hopes of a more lucrative recording. I'm thinking I'll "pay" the demo band by letting them use the songs while I retain the ownership.

Is this a legitimate way of going about this? I guess I should first ask if this is even possible to do? I'm not sure how all the ownership and usage rights works on a copyright.

If anyone has some knowledge about this, I'd appreciate your input.

Thanks in advance.

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Yes, perfectly possible. Lacking a publisher at the moment it is up to you how you license the songs to them and what permissions you give them or don't give them. For example, how long are they licensed to use the songs? Where are they licensed to use the songs? In essence they get their license and any monies from either performance or from record sales or other income streams, you should get the songwriter's share and the publisher's share (as you are effectively self publishing), while they get a performer's share. There are standard percentages. I would imagine you would license them to release the songs, not merely make a demo (as that is very limited considering they are likely to pay for recording).

The point is the good news is it's not uncommon for a writer to license a band to do a recording. If you limit it to just a demo they may well choose to record their own song.... you have to make it appealing to them, and fair)

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My first reaction is to the above statement. That's kind of where the plan comes apart. If I'm understanding correctly, you're talking about allowing the band to play your songs at live their live performances....as covers.

Why would that entice anyone? Assuming that your songs are great and that bands would be interested in playing them at their gigs, they really don't need your permission to do that. Never have!

Think about it for a second How many times have you been in a bar and seen a local band doing a cover of "Sweet Home Alabama"? Do you really think any of those groups obtained permission from the owner of rights? Of course not. Cover bands play cover material and....as long as they don't misrepresent by attempting to pass it off as original, it's never presented a problem.

Bottom line....you're offering them a right they already possess. Unless you're a hell of a salesman, I don't see that approach working very well.

Hope this helps...good luck with your stuff!


Ah, but technically if a song has never been performed then the songwriter can refuse to allow cover versions until he (or she) has performed it.

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I've very much taken the recording perspective working with an established band, however, you could work completely with a band of session musicians. The cost is likely to be higher. While an established band can play your songs live (though they should report that performance to ensure the songwriters get paid, lets face it that rarely happens) they cannot release commercial recordings of that song, Additionally a band of session musicians are far less likely to take your song and perform it anywhere.

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