Earning Music Royalties 2

Music royalties are earned and collected in different ways depending on the artist’s Concertconnection to the song and how the song is used or played.

For example, if you hear Miley Cyrus’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s classic ‘Jolene’ played over internet radio, the royalty payments are paid to both Miley as the performer (paid to her by SoundExchange) and to Dolly Parton who wrote the song (ASCAP pays Dolly Parton).  However, if you hear Dolly Parton’s original version over internet radio then she is compensated for both the original composition, and also for the sound recording (ie both ASCAP and Sound Exchange pay royalties to Dolly.)

Here are a few types of royalties that an artist might receive:

Performance Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by Performance Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC here in the USA) from fees collected for broadcasting or publicly performing copyrighted music in a variety of ways including: over the radio, in TV shows, in concerts, in elevators, as ring tones and on YouTube.

Digital Royalties – paid to the artist/s who performs on a recording and to the owner of the sound recording from fees collected for digitally streaming music by providers such as Pandora, Sirius XM, iTunes and various webcasters.

Mechanical Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Artist/Record Royalties – paid to the artist who performs a song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Synchronization Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by a movie producer, TM show, or advertiser for use of the song in a movie, TV show, or ad.

It’s important to remember that artists must register with Sound Exchange and Performance Rights Organizations to receive royalties from these entities.

This post is dedicated to the composer Danilo Guanais.  I was honored to be able to sing in a choral performance of his Missa de Alcacus last month at Carnegie Hall.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: blog articles on digital music royalties at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/royalties-digital-music/page/2/; blog articles on using the copyright notice and registering your music with the U.S. Copyright Office at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18 and http://wp.me/p10nNq-13; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

New trend of Phone-Free Concerts has many benefits Reply

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-33-01-pmFans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr’s form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible for them to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.  (quote from NY Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show)

Not surprisingly performing artists reportedly enjoy playing phone-free concerts.

When the rocker Axl Rose reunited with his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates, Duff McKagan and Slash, for the first time in 23 years, the concert was phone-free. “God, it was wonderful,” Mr. McKagan said of the first reunion show in April, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “It was the old-school feeling, where people were dancing and getting down. It was really cool.”

In addition to increasing the fun “old-school feeling” at a phone-free concert, decreasing the likelihood of intellectual property infringement may be a hidden benefit of a phone-free concert. While it’s not uncommon for audience members to record and post concert clips, this can infringe a bundle of intellectual property rights including:

  • Copyright in the music compositions and lyrics (often controlled by the publisher or sometimes the artist)
  • Copyright in the performance (often controlled by the label)
  • Trademarks of the band, club or venue

I haven’t met a Yondr case yet; although, I’m looking forward to using one sometime soon at a phone-free concert.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

See also: Previous blog post Recording and Posting Concert Clips: what’s legal… what’s not at http://wp.me/p10nNq-os; The New York Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show. by J. Morrissey at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/your-phones-on-lockdown-enjoy-the-show.html?_r=0; Yondr website at http://overyondr.com/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

When Monkeys Sing & Pigs Fly (Copyright news update) 1

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.14.46 PM

monkey selfie is available on wikipedia.org

It’s been quite a week for U.S. Copyright law!  This week a judge in California ruled that the popular (and commercially valuable) song “Happy Birthday to You” is not protected by copyright.  If the judge’s ruling stands the Happy Birthday song will become part of the public domain.

Also in California, a lawsuit was filed by PETA claiming that the copyright of photographs taken by a monkey (monkey selfies) should belong to the monkey. Presumably PETA should be allowed to collect and administer royalties from the photos on the monkey’s behalf.

It will be interesting to follow this monkey’s business… and these lawsuits.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also, another post on the monkey selfies at http://wp.me/p10nNq-b5; more posts on copyright law at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t; the “Happy Birthday Case” is Marya v. Warner/Chappell available at https://www.unitedstatescourts.org/federal/cacd/564772/244-0.html; The Washington Post article titled, “Monkey wants copyright and cash from ‘monkey selfies,’ PETA lawsuit says” by J. Moyer at http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/09/23/monkey-wants-copyright-and-cash-from-monkey-selfies-peta-lawsuit-says/; New York Times article titled, “’Happy Birthday’ Copyright Invalidated by Judge” by B. Sisario at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/business/media/happy-birthday-copyright-invalidated-by-judge.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

I like Taylor Swift’s Voice (and she sings great too). Reply

This week the musician Taylor Swift spoke out against Apple’s proposed plan NOT to pay music royalties during the 90-day free vlaueyourarttrial they are offering to customers who sign up for the new Apple Music streaming service. In a savvy and effective move, Taylor Swift asked Apple (in a letter posted online) to change their policy and refrain from asking musicians to provide their music without compensation during the 90-day period. The letter begins with a threat to not release her new album on Apple Music streaming service due to the 90-day-no-compensation period.

The goods news: Apple responded the same day with notice that they changed their tune and WILL pay artists for streaming during the 90-day free trial period.

Tis A “Swift” Change to benefit musicians! Bravo!

Here is the full text of Taylor Swift’s letter (also available at: http://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/122071902085/to-apple-love-taylor):

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

Taylor

Thanks for your letter Taylor Swift. (You have a powerful voice!)  swiftchange

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Other blog posts on Music Copyright and royalties at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/copyright-music-copyright/; “Apple Changes Course After Taylor Swift Open Letter: Will Pay Labels During Free Trial” by S.Halperin at http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6605568/apple-changes-course-after-taylor-swift-open-letter-will-pay-labels-during; “Apple Responds to Taylor Swift’s Open Letter, Says It Will Pay Artists During Apple Music Free Trial Period: ‘We Hear You’” by J.Andriakos at http://www.people.com/article/taylor-swift-apple-music-open-letter-response; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Quote Brahms: Any ass can see the similarities with Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ 2

A page from Beethoven's manuscript for his 9th Symphony available at www.wikipedia.org

A page from Beethoven’s manuscript for his 9th Symphony available at http://www.wikipedia.org

The program notes for a recent concert of Brahms Symphonies No. 1 & 3 contained an admission by Brahms that the “big string section” in the finale of his first symphony was similar to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”  Evidently, when Brahms was confronted about the resemblance, he replied, “Any ass can see that.”  I’m not sure how this quote has managed to survive almost 200 years, but it’s a fascinating example of an admission to copying another artist’s work. [Today this would be an example of admitting to copyright infringement by copying another artist’s work and/or creating a derivative work based on another artist’s work].  While the Brahms’ quote may seem comical, it is not so uncommon today for similar admissions to be made to the media or on social media regarding plagiarism or copyright infringement.  Often this type of admission is made off-the-cuff by an artist who has copied another artist’s work without any thought being given to a possible copyright infringement claim.  Yet, when the copyright infringement claim surfaces it may be difficult to overcome because of the prior admission.  Admissions made off-the-cuff, even in a slightly comical tone or on social media can have detrimental repercussions.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: U.S. Copyright Office Circular 1 on Copyright Basics at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf; NY Times, What’s Wrong With the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling at www.nytimes.com; Carnegie Hall calendar and announcement of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra playing Brahms Symphony No. 1 at www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2015/2/27/0800/PM/Vienna-Philharmonic-Orchestra; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Trademark: to keep bands called THE SUPREMES from popping up in every State Reply

“Yeah, I know and can appreciate what you do (as a trademark attorney working with musicians). Back in the day, different bands called THE SUPREMES were popping up in every State. You can’t have that.” A jazz musician friend said this to me the other day and it was music to my ears.

from the USPTO online database

from the USPTO online database

This is right on point. For a band like THE SUPREMES, who became the most popular female group of the Sixties, owning the trademark of their name grants the trademark owner (Motown Records and now Motown Records’ successor) the exclusive right to use the name “THE SUPREMES” for various music performance and recording services. [USPTO Reg. No. 1003076]. Owning the trademark rights in the name of your band grants the trademark owner the exclusive right to use the trademarked band name for specific uses – like music performance and recording services. This can be a tool to keep other bands or music groups from performing under the same name or a confusingly similar name without permission of the trademark owner.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: the USPTO TESS data base at http://www.uspto.gov/; a copy of the USPTO Certificate of Trademark Registration for THE SUPREMES, USPTO Reg. No. 1003076; The Supremes bio at http://rockhall.com/inductees/the-supremes/ ; Baby Love on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23UkIkwy5ZM; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Federation Bells Call For Compositions (nice ring to their Terms & Conditions) Reply

The Federation Bells park in Melbourne has launched an open call for composers to submit compositions to be Fed bells picplayed on a fascinating instillation of 39 bells.

The Federation Bells are a (recently refurbished) collection of 39 bronze upturned bells mounted on poles in a grid arrangement at Birrarung Marr in central Melbourne. They can be played using a sophisticated electromechanical system, in which internal hammers strike the bells, triggered by simple MIDI commands.

Submitted compositions can be heard daily on an evolving weekly schedule that is posted online.  My friend Rob Waring’s composition titled, Daybreak at Birrarung Marr, is currently scheduled to play daily. (Bravo, Rob!)

To encourage folks to submit compositions, the Federation Bells website features an online composition tool that lets folks compose music for the 39 bells.  A composer’s manual and guide is also posted on their website at http://federationbells.com.au/media/Federation-Bells-Composers-Manual.pdf.

The Terms and Conditions for submitting a composition also have a nice ring to them.  By submitting a composition folks agree to: 1)  grant a license allowing their composition to be played on the bell instillation for one year (composer retains ownership) and 2) submit their composition freely without seeking any further consideration.  Additionally, some folks may earn royalties if they are a member of APRA (or an equivalent society) and there is no promise made that submitted compositions will be performed.  (Terms and Conditions are always subject to change).

Federation Bells Terms and Conditions

An image of the Terms and Conditions from the website

Evidently, over a hundred compositions have already been submitted.  As I type this, I am singing to myself, “ding dong merrily on high in heaven the bells are ringing.”  The melody and lyric of this carol are fitting.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Rob Waring’s website http://home.broadpark.no/~rwaring/; Information about composing for the Federation Bells at http://federationbells.com.au/play-the-bells/composing-for-the-bells; http://federationbells.com.au/media/Federation-Bells-Composers-Manual.pdf ; and http://composer.federationbells.com.au/FederationBells.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

US Copyright Fees increase tomorrow (5/1/14) 2

The US Copyright Office fees are set to increase tomorrow on May 1, 2014.  This increase includes some changes to the $35 fee for a basic copyright registration.  Currently, filing an online copyright registration for “an original work of authorship” via the US Copyright Office’s electronic filing system costs $35.  As of May 1, 2014 this basic copyright registration will be divided into two new categories. Some basic copyright registrations will still cost $35 and some will cost $55.  As of tomorrow, the $35 registration fee will be limited to apply only to works which have: a “single author, same claimant, [consist of] one work, not [a work] for hire.”

(Bargain hunters may want to take advantage of the lower fees today!)

new fees

image from US Copyright Office Website

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, the US Copyright Office website at www.copyright.govearlier blog posts on the topic of “copyright” at www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/ ; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

Benefits of US Copyright Registration Reply

Copyright vests automatically in an original work once it is ‘fixed’ in a tangible dollar (2)form.  While copyright vests automatically, it can also be advantageous to register an original work for copyright registration with the US Copyright Office.  Registering a work with the US Copyright Office is not a requirement but it can be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Registration with the US Copyright Office establishes a public record of the basic facts including ownership of an original work.
  • Before an lawsuit may be filed against someone infringing your work, registration is necessary with the US Copyright Office for works of US origin.
  • If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions.  Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • If registration is made within 5 years of publication of the work, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • Registration with the US Copyright Office allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the US Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.

It is possible to file for US Copyright Registration at anytime within the life of the copyrighted work.  Currently, it only costs $35 to file an application with the US Copyright Office for registration.

The term of copyright protection for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is for the life of the author plus 70 years (or if a work is made for hire the term of copyright protection is 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first.)

Wishing all of you reading this post a Happy New Year!   Starting off the new year with a reminder that all your original creative content that is written down, drawn, painted, recorded, sculpted or otherwise fixed… is automatically vested with copyright feels auspicious.  As detailed above, taking the extra step to register your work with the US Copyright Office can be beneficial.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, Circular 1, Copyright Basics; Circular 15A, Duration of Copyright. and all the information circulars and fact sheets available at the US Copyright Office website: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/; and also an earlier post “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35“; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Licensing a Cover Song (Be Happy… it’s easy) Reply

If you want to cover a song on an album you will need to obtain a MECHANICAL license. The good news is that user-friendly tools are available to help you get the licenses you need. If you are an indie artist, attorney with a hankering to release an album, church group, or other musical group… you can use the online licensing services offered by Limelight (at https://www.songclearance.com/) to obtain mechanical licenses.

A FEW POINTS ABOUT MECHANICAL LICENSES VIA LIMELIGHT:

  • You need a mechanical license before distributing a recording containing a song or composition that you didn’t write.
  • The most common mechanical uses are digital downloads, CD’s and ringtones.
  • You need to secure mechanical licenses even if you are giving your CD’s, downloads and ringtones away for free.
  • Limelight’s Pricing Calculator estimates that the cost to license a song for 100 CD’s is $24.10 and for 100 CD’s + 100 digital downloads is $48.20. (this cost includes the royalty fee and Limelight’s service fee) – check out the calculator at https://www.songclearance.com/clearance/calculator

A FEW OTHER POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND:

  • Good idea to check with Limelight even if you think that you are using a work that is in the Public Domain… because, you want to make sure that you are not using a copyrighted arrangement of a Public Domain work
  • If you wish to license a song or Master recording to use with a film or other visual content (including YouTube videos), the type of license that you need is a SYNCHRONIZATION license. (Contact the publisher directly for a synch license).
  • If you are including a recording of someone else’s music in your album (for example within a track or as an instrumental line) you need a MASTER USE license, need to clear the publishing/composition rights AND secure a mechanical license.

See also, https://www.songclearance.com/faq/; Rights Flow at htsflow.com/what-we-do/mechanical-licensing-and-royalty-services/; Three Myths About Music Sampling at http://wp.me/p10nNq-4U; Copyright Is Valuable – The Happy Birthday Song Earns $2 Million a Year at http://wp.me/p10nNq-cl and @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com