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Licensing - noob questions

Discussion in 'General' started by hreichgott, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Hi, I'm planning my first recording project that involves getting licenses for the music. I have some newbie questions about getting the rights and I hope someone can help!

    I have gotten as far as making contact with the publishers, and with composers in cases where there is no publisher, and determining what royalty rate is desired. Now, do I need to write up a formal licensing agreement and have the copyright holder sign it? After the project is done, do I need to submit payments in any sort of organized manner, or can I just send a check once a year, or what?

    (Does Pianosociety do something like this for the Takemitsu pieces etc. that are not in public domain?)

    When a composer asks for the statutory rate, I understand what that means for mechanical license (physically printing a recording on a CD) and for the kind of digital distribution where the customer just downloads a file. I found the attached explanation of that. What I do not understand is the statutory rate for streaming downloads -- Spotify, Pandora, etc. The attached explanation says to see the formula that appears in Statute number &%^xyzgibberish, which I tried googling, but couldn't find a formula and couldn't understand much of the statute itself. I am a pianist, not a lawyer. I love being an independent artist, but this is the sort of stuff that makes me envy people with agents and record labels. Hopefully with help I can figure this out and stay independent!

    cheers, Heather

    P.S. I am working with composers in a couple of countries, but the published ones and the one asking for the statutory rate are all in the USA, as am I.
     
  2. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    I can't be of much help because the cd I made at the end of last year was exclusively of public domain material and material where royalties were not applicable (other than the cover picture). However I do recall that when I was transferring the material for sale via CDBaby and the various online sites that they have an affiliation with (e.g. Spotify), I was asked to make a declaration of the public domain status of the individual tracks. I therefore assume that if you were to do it via CDBaby or a similar online site, they handle the royalties aspect for you, so that might eliminate the confusion you could do without. With public performance (at least in the UK) the situation is that if you give a concert where you perform non-PD material, a certain % of the ticket receipts should be forwarded to the relevant authority, in the UK the Performing Rights Society. I assume, though don't know for sure, that online distribution of tracks, streaming or otherwise, views the internet as a virtual concert hall and thus you are similarly liable to pay a % (as opposed to a one-off fee). One thing though, revenue paid to the artist from streaming tracks is staggeringly low.

    It might be also worth mentioning in case you've not thought about it - you will need a UPC or similar number for your product. Amazon etc won't stock it without one. They can be bought cheaply online; CDBaby will also sell you one but I bought mine independently as I had the cd produced and replicated prior to placing it with them.
     
  3. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Oh MAN that would be awesome if CDBaby would handle all the licensing stuff for me! Unfortunately, no. This is from their faq

    I do work with CDBaby. My one existing cd (ballet class music, all arranged from public domain or my own compositions) is distributed through them, and I was planning on doing this one that way too. But they're a distributor, really, not a record label.
     
  4. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Ah, that FAQ looks familiar. I didn't think any further at the time because my pieces were public domain. I imagine you should send a cheque at the end of each calendar year to ASCAP or a similar organisation, calculating the amount due on the non-public domain compositions. I would look at their website and see if it specifies the rate payable. You'll know that CDBaby provides an itemised account of sales, so I'd print it off and enclose that with the cheque.

    Re streaming downloads, I wouldn't be too bothered: the pay rate on Spotify is atrocious (had I done my research properly, I wouldn't have put anything on there). Royalties due per track streaming are going to be a fraction of a fraction of a cent and are really going to only amount to anything of significance if you're getting 100000s of streams.
     
  5. hreichgott

    hreichgott New Member

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    Sounds like a reasonable approach.

    I did just get a response in from Alfred. They sent me a form letter with specified amount of payment and a form letter to send back to them with the check, and everything. For the mechanical license only though. Now I have to go back and ask them about digital and streaming...

    I'm beginning to think it is just going to be different for every copyright holder.
     

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