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

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.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at 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.

Here is a link to ask Congress NOT to reduce music royalty rates paid to musicians by Pandora Reply

–> http://www.musicfirstcoalition.org/ <–  Tell Congress: Don’t Slash Music Creators’ Pay

As a follow up to my post yesterday [http://wp.me/p10nNq-p8] it’s easy to reach out to your Congress reps at the link above and speak out against Pandora’s push to slash royalty rates paid to creators.

Musicians push back as Pandora lobbys Congress to reduce royalty rates Reply

Three cheers for musicians defense against Pandora’s Congressional lobbying efforts to reduce royalty rates that it pays to musicians. Currently Pandora pays a fraction of a penny to musicians each time a song is played on its internet radio service. …Pandora wants to make more money (don’t we all)… but taking a bigger cut from musicians is low. In protest of Pandora’s proposal, Rihanna, George Clinton, Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt, The Doors, Katy Perry, Pink Floyd, Alabama, Sheryl Crow and other artists have written a letter opposing the Pandora-backed legislation that aims to reduce royalty rates.

THE LETTER: A MUSICIAN’S PERSPECTIVE ON PANDORA

We are big fans of Pandora. That’s why we helped give the company a discount on rates for the past decade.

Pandora is now enjoying phenomenal success as a Wall Street company. Skyrocketing growth in revenues and users. We celebrate that. At the same time, the music community is just not beginning to gain its footing in this new digital world.

Pandora’s principal asset is the music.

Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together.

Congress has many pressing issues to consider, but this is not one of them. Let’s work this out as partners and continue to bring fans the great musical experiences they rightly expect.

This letter is running in Billboard Magazine and with any luck has gone viral and is gaining momentum and support. A congressional hearing is scheduled for tomorrow in Washington D.C.

For more information: the proposed legislation – Internet Radio Fairness Act; Battling Rihanna Puts Pandora in Box on Lower Music Royalties at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-26/battling-rihanna-puts-pandora-in-box-on-lower-music-royalties.html; From Alabama to Rihanna, Starts Fight Pandora on Royalties at http://www.billboard.com/news/from-alabama-to-rihanna-stars-fight-pandora-1008016162.story#/news/from-alabama-to-rihanna-stars-fight-pandora-1008016162.story; and the letter at http://www.musicfirstcoalition.org/sites/default/files/Artist%20Letter.pdf; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Digital royalties waiting? Register before October 15, 2012 1

SoundExchange is the organization that collects and distributes digital royalties to musicians and record labels.  Just last month,dollar sign SoundExchange released a list of over 50,000 recording artist and record label names who are owed tens of millions of dollars in unclaimed digital performance royalty payments.  [Registration with SoundExchange is required in order to collect these unpaid and ongoing digital royalties].  The list released by SoundExchange also includes more than $31 million in royalties that are three or more years old.

**AN IMPORTANT NOTE** Any unclaimed royalties that are over three years old may be forfeited (and lost) if the artists and labels who are entitled to the $$$ do not register with SoundExchange by OCTOBER 15, 2012.

If you think that you, or someone you know may have digital royalties waiting to be collected from SoundExchange CHECK with SoundExchange.  You can check this out by searching through the database of unpaid artists and labels  on the SoundExchange website… or you can email SoundExchange at: connect@soundexchange.com.

Just a note about searching the on-line database, try searching by your full name and also by each part of your name individually.  For some quirky reason, I have found that this can change the search results.  For example, on a whim I decided to search for the Native American Artist, Floyd Red Crow Westerman…. and searching “Westerman” didn’t return any results; however, searching for “Red Crow” found: FLOYD RED CROW WESTERMAN.  (I sent an email to the contact on Mr. Westerman’s website… hopefully they will reach out to SoundExchange asap!)

See also: an earlier post  http://www.soundexchange.com/2012/08/15/soundexchange-releases-list-of-recording-artists-and-record-labels-with-unclaimed-digital-performance-royalties/, http://www.soundexchange.com/2012/08/17/royalties-waiting-find-out-in-our-new-database/, http://www.soundexchange.com/performer-owner/does-sx-have-money-for-you; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Newly Discovered Jazz Archive in a Copyright Tangle Reply

You might have heard that an archive of historic jazz recordings was discovered and donated to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem last year. Accompanying the hundreds of donated discs containing recordings of legendary jazz musicians of the late 30’s and 40’s… is a tangle of legal copyright issues.

THE MUSIC – This newly discovered jazz archive exists due to the technical genius of William Savory who was both a jazz aficionado and a technical wizard. Mr. Savory developed ways to make superior, longer and more durable sound recordings and recorded historic jazz performances during the golden era of American Jazz. Among the treasures in his collection are never released recordings of: Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Bobby Hackett, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young.

This historic collection is currently being restored and digitized by the National Jazz Museum and can be heard in eight short clips on the museum’s website and by making an appointment to visit the museum’s listening room. (http://www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org/savory/index.php or by calling 212-348-8300).

THE BIG QUESTION – is whether this historic collection will be made available to the public once digitized.

COPYRIGHT ISSUES ABOUND – Copyright law has changed and morphed over the years and the legal protocol for using, distributing, copying and making these digitized recordings (or any copyright protected work) available… requires identifying the musicians and copyright owners of the recordings and getting their permission to use the works. As you might guess, this is no small task. It can be difficult to identify and locate copyright owners especially since decades have passed since the recordings were made. Most of the musicians are no longer living and the business entities and companies that may hold ownership interests in the works have likely morphed and changed too.  (Note that copyright protection lasts for longer than the life of the owner.  The duration of copyright protection has changed over the years.  Currently, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author + 70 years and if owned by a corporation it lasts for 95 years from publication.)  If an organization wishes to use copyrighted works, but the copyright owner cannot be located… the organization has two choices: 1) not to use the work or 2) to use the work without permission, which is a risky gamble.

HOW BIG OF A GAMBLE IS IT TO USE A COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION? The short answer – Big. Using a copyrighted work without permission can put the user at risk of owing treble damages to the owner for willful infringement AND can prevent any further use of the work via an injunction. The risk of potential copyright liability for using works without permission is generally too high for most museums, filmmakers and libraries to take.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW? Evidently the National Jazz Museum in Harlem is in the process of restoring and digitizing the Savory collection. It will be interesting to see how the museum decides to use the works. Hopefully, tracking down the copyright owners and getting permission to use (and make available for distribution) at least some of the works will be possible. (I would like to hear these recordings!) Alternatively, legislation could change the penalty for using the works by reducing the fee from treble damages to ‘a reasonable licensing fee’ payable to the copyright owner retroactively once they resurface and make a demand for payment. These types of legislative changes to the current Copyright Law have been proposed but have not been adopted. For now, making an appointment to visit the National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s listening room is the way to hear these historic jazz recordings.

See also: http://www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org/; http://jazzmuseuminharlem.org/the-museum/collections/the-savory-collection/; http://www.copyright.gov/; Orphaned Treasures: A Trove of Historic Jazz Recordings has Found a Home in Harlem, But You Can’t Hear Them, by S. SeidenbergFor more information on works in the Public Domain, see http://wp.me/p10nNq-ft and http://wp.me/p10nNq-gn; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Music Royalties will start being paid for plays on YouTube Reply

Did you know that 48 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every MINUTE?!? It’s hard to even conceive of… but it’s true and without question… heaps of the uploaded content contains music that could and should be earning royalties for plays on YouTube.

In an effort to begin to manage content on YouTube and start paying copyright holders royalties whenever music is included in a video that is played on YouTube, Google (the owner of YouTube) has purchased RightsFlow (a start-up that processes music royalties to help musicians, songwriters and music labels be compensated for their work).

RightsFlow has a music database of over 30 million songs and already processes licenses and royalty payments for thousands of publishers. Integrating the RightsFlow database and technology into YouTube’s content management systems promises to start paying $$ to musicians and music rights holders who have been uncompensated for the use of their music on the site. (Search for any popular band or song on YouTube and you will find an extensive mix of results that include recordings of copyrighted music).

Managing and protecting copyrighted content is an ongoing concern for YouTube. Currently, a copyright holder can request YouTube to remove a video posted to the site that includes copyrighted content that is being used without authorization. However, won’t it be even better… to be paid for the use of your music!

I heard one of YouTube’s Music Managers speak earlier this year and she mentioned a point that is KEY to getting paid royalty payments:

  • People (this means YOU)/musicians/record companies… who want their content monetized will have to say so. (ie.. you have to be PROACTIVE to receive royalties)
  • See the YouTube Licensing offer: http://www.youtubelicenseoffer.com/

Stay tuned into this issue…

See also: http://rightsflow.com/; http://rightsflow.com/2012/01/youtube-and-rightsflow-opt-in-reminder/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

What I would tell Jaki Byard (about copyright law) 1

The late, great Jaki Byard was a musical genius and like ALL artists Jaki created TONS of intellectual property. Undoubtedly he created more original, copyrightable works than he even knew. Like so many artists… when your art just flows… and your groove is strong… it’s easy to overlook ways to protect and monetize your work. (I studied jazz piano with Jaki a few years before I went to law school and became an intellectual property attorney).

What advice would I give Jaki today? I would insist that Jaki copyright his work. Jaki created exquisite handwritten piano exercises and warm-ups …complete with elaborate pencil-drawing covers. They were remarkable in all respects. And if Jaki were still alive today, I would take the F train out to his home in Queens and insist that he copyright and publish these. (Yes, Jaki also had volumes of recordings and other music… I suspect a large portion of these works are copyrighted and still paying royalties).

Is sheet music of warm-up exercises copyrightable? Yes! If they are original, they are copyrightable.

Will people buy them… is another question… however, it only costs $35 to register your work with the US Copyright Office. This is a nominal investment. I would have paid it on Jaki’s behalf in a heartbeat.

(Jaki Byard was a jazz legend and a brilliant teacher. He passed away February 11, 1999 and lives on in his music).

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

For more info on how to register your work with the US Copyright Office —> http://t.co/ynaHCbX and http://www.copyright.gov and a tribute to Jaki —> http://www.villagevoice.com/1999-03-09/music/jaki-byard-1922-1999/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Copyright is valuable – ‘The Birthday Song’ earns $2 Million a year in royalties 1

Would you have guessed that the song, ‘Happy Birthday to You’ generates an estimated $2 million dollars a year in royalties?  (and has earned this much annually since 1996)  It’s only eight measures long, spans an octave and was written for children …but it’s a big FullSizeRender (3)money maker.

The song has appeared in over 140 movies, in countless advertisements for products ranging from cars to cereals to insurance to paper products and pet stores… and was featured in the world’s first singing telegram in 1933.   Royalties are earned for public performances of the song as well as its use in movies, television shows, advertisements, music boxes, theatrical productions and the like.  (Just an fyi… singing it around the dinner table or serenading your friend is a royalty-free private performance.)

‘Happy Birthday to You’ was written by two sisters… one was an educator and the other a composer.  They were knowledgeable about copyright law and took steps to register their work for copyright protection.  They may not have guessed that their song would become one of the most popular songs in the 20th Century…. earning over an estimated $45 million dollars to date.  (Spending $35 to register your music for copyright protection pays off –> http://t.co/ynaHCbX )

(Since this blog just celebrated its first birthday… this is a timely topic.)

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq. LL.M.

For personalized services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

An interesting reference for more on the copyright issues surrounding the Happy Birthday song, see Professor Brauneis’ legal paper http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1111624

Were you wondering what happened to Jamie Thomas (she was sued in 2006 by Capitol Records for illegally downloading songs)? 5

Do you remember the hoopla that surfaced in 2006 when Jamie Thomas was sued by Capitol Records for illegally downloading 24 songs for her personal use?  Were you wondering what happened to her?  ANSWER: she’s been in and out of court this whole time… and last week a District Court Judge drastically reduced the damages awarded to the record company on a constitutional basis.

The Story:  Ms. Jamie Thomas illegally downloaded 24 songs on Kazaa (for her personal use) and was sued by Capitol Records.  After Capitol Records sued Ms. Jamie Thomas for illegally downloading 24 songs that they own…. a copyright controversy swelled when the jury awarded damages of $222,000 ($9,250 per song) for Jamie’s infringement.  The media continued to follow the case as it moved in and out of court and the damages awarded to Capitol Records for Jamie’s copyright violation shifted upward from $222,000 ($9,250 per song) to 1,920,000 ($80,000 per song) and back down to $1,500,000 ($62,500 per song).

Last week, a District Court Judge reduced the damages awarded by the jury to Capitol Records from $1,500,000 ($62,500 per song) to $54,000 ($2,250 per song).  The judge’s opinion stats that the reduced award is ‘substantial’, ‘acts as a potent deterrent’ and is the ‘maximum amount permitted under the Constitution.’   The court reasoned that awarded damages are unconstitutional when they violate due process for being severe, oppressive and obviously unreasonable.   (It’s rare for a court to reduce statutory damages.)

What happens now?  This decision could be appealed again by either side.

The decision can be read at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/60635512/Order-on-Motions-to-Amend-Alter-Verdict-in-Capitol-v-Thomas-Rasset  also see, http://www.copyhype.com

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com.