A Small Company With A Big Vision
(Gospel Music Publishers)
Gibson Hill Music is a publishing house dedicated to music ministry. We are a small company with a big vision…to help you as an artist to become as effective as you can be, by opening doors between writers and singers of Christian music. we want to give you information about publishing, recording, copyrights, distribution and so much more! We hope and pray that this information will be of service to you.
Completing a song is an accomplishment in itself. But if you want that song to be enjoyed by other people, if you want it to be recorded and become an effective tool of ministry, your work is just beginning! Somewhere along the line, in the process of getting your songs to the public, your creations have to be published.
When you finish writing a song it becomes a product-a property that you own. People in the music industry refer to that property as a “copyright.” (Copyright law automatically protects Songs. Still it is important to understand when and how they are protected and, the difference between copyright notification and registration.) All of the copyrights you own comprise your “catalog.” You control the publishing rights to all the songs in your catalog, until you choose to sign a contract giving the publishing to someone else.
When you sign a Publishing Contract you are assigning your copyright to the publisher. Ethical publishers don’t ask you to “sell” your songs outright, rather you license the rights to the song to the publisher for a specified period of time. The publisher “administers” the copyright during that period. You’ll sometimes hear of a publisher acquiring whole catalogs, which he then tries to exploit. (He tries to get the songs recorded, printed and used in various ways, and guards them against infringement.) Even though a song is your creation, the publisher controls the copyright once you have given him your publishing. He does a lot of legwork and paperwork for you, and uses his contacts and business savvy to your (and his) advantage. He may choose to help you re-demo your song to make it sound more professional. He may even offer you a small cash advance at the time the publishing contract is signed. Because the publisher invests time and money in the song (because he believes in the potential of the song), you split with him the royalties the song earns, usually 50/50.
Some songwriters (if not most these days) choose to publish their own songs and “pitch them” directly to recording artists or their producers or their managers. However, publishing is a complicated and sophisticated process. Many songwriters feel that the business negotiations and follow up work of publishing take too much time away from the songwriting and demo projects, and they prefer to let an experienced publisher represent their songs for them.
Publishers can be excellent contacts for songwriters. Publishers build a reputation within the music industry. Some publishers specialize in certain types of music, while others look for crossover potential in songs, so they can peak the interest many different kinds of artists in the same song(s). Whether you choose to try a big or a small company, the most important things to consider are (1) does the publisher believe in your material and have your best interest at heart? (2) are you comfortable with these people, and can you work with them? (3) can you get through to them (are they accessible) and do you communicate well with them? and (4) do they have the contacts or are they working toward establishing the kind of contacts that you need for your music. "It's difficult for the small publisher to break through into the music mainstream, but the small publisher is often the only opportunity the new writer has access to, and this is not always a bad thing, as small publishers are usually more open personal attention to each song since their catalog is smaller" Marilyn Hendricks.
Big and small companies are generally alike in structure, and you need to know who does what as you pitch your songs and begin to make contacts and build relationships with people. Until you establish a relationship with specific professionals in the industry who appreciate your music and who are willing to work with you on a regular basis, you should submit your material to as many appropriate contacts as you can find. There are several possible routes you can take. You might try submitting your songs to an artists producer. Producers contribute a great deal to the finished recorded project. They usually help the artist select all the songs to be recorded for an upcoming project.
Another possible route is to submit your songs to an artist's manager(s). Depending on how "big" the artist is, he/she may have a personal and/or a road manager. These people have direct access to the artist's they manage, and they're always on the lookout for hit songs. After all a manager's salary is a percentage of what his/her artist earn. If their artist's have hit songs and become more popular, they perform in lager venues and draw bigger crowds and make more money.
Another option is to submit your songs to an artist's record label. You will want to deal with the person at the record company's A&R department who works specifically with the artist you're trying to reach. You could choose to submit songs to publishing companies. If you're targeting a particular artist, and you know that the artist will take songs from "outside" publishers, you'll want to try and pitch your songs to publishers who have already placed songs with the artist you're after. The person at the publishing company you'll want to contact is called the professional manager.
What is publication? Publication generally means the sale, the placing on sale, or public distribution of copies. Performance of the work or the making of phonorecords does not constitute publication. While the sale or public distribution of phonorecords may affect common law rights in the musical composition on the phonorecord. It is not regarded as the kind of "publication" that will secure a statutory copyright in the musical composition (circular 56 concerning copyrights in sound recordings will explain more) Limited distribution of so-called "professional" copies to publishers, bandleaders, etc… ordinarily would not constitute publication either. However, the dividing line between a distribution and actual publication may sometimes be difficult to determine.The author may wish to affix a notice of copyright to copies that are circulated beyond his control, to show that his interests in the work are preserved.
When I record a song by another artist, what if I can't find out who the publisher is? You must make every effort possible to locate the publisher in order to get permission to use that song on your recording. If you were unable to do this, then my first recommendation, and the safest one, would be not to use that song on your recording. If you do include that song on your project, then document the efforts you made to locate the publisher of the song. Here is one way I have used in the past, put it in writing, on the CD "author unknown used with intent to pay a royalty" A further safe step would be to set aside the royalties that would be due for that song; in a separate place or account. Then, if the publisher of that song notifies you of the unlicensed use. You are able to show him your efforts made to locate him, and your intentions of making the correct royalty payments to him, which you held in a separate account. You will then need to execute a license with the publisher, and pay the accumulated royalties. However I must warn you. Any unlicensed use of a copyrighted song is considered a copyright infringement, and is punishable by law!
Once I locate the owner of the song (The person who holds the copyright if the song is published the writer cannot give you the express permission). What is the best way to request permission to use the song? Put your request in writing and fax or e-mail your request to the publisher. Your request should give all pertinent information regarding your proposed use of that publisher's song: i.e. song title, publisher, type of use (Recording, print, video, etc) title of project, the artist or group name, a project catalog number, if any, the projected release, or manufacture of project, the number of units you plan to have manufactured, your name and mailing address and phone number and other information you might think of that might be helpful to the publisher.
You may also attempt to call the publisher to request a license. However, most publishers will ask you to send a request in writing and send them by mail or fax. In fact, when you call some of the larger publishers, you may only get a recording directing you on how and where to mail your request. Because most companies will take up to four weeks to answer a request, so you must send your requests far enough in advance of your recording date. However, if an emergency situation does arise, you can attempt to contact the publisher by phone and request "verbal permission" to go ahead and record while the license is being executed. You can also go on-line to secure a registered license (if you know the one who administers the copyright) @ www.songfile.com
What is a license agreement? A "License" is an agreement between you (The user of the song) and the owner of the song (The writer, or more often the publishing company that the writer has assigned, sold or transferred his rights (publishing rights, and he who holds the publishing rights holds the copyright) in the song. Which allows you to use the song on your project by following the stipulations contained in the agreement. In other words, this document explains how you are allowed to use the song, how much to pay, when and how to pay the royalties, and other important conditions you must follow.
You may request a license (License request form) to be sent to you by the owner (Again usually a company) of the song. You normally are asked to sign and return a copy of the license to the owner, and to keep one for your files. If there is more than one owner for a song, you must secure a license from each owner for his or her portion of the song. Read circular R51 repeal of notice of use requirement. www.loc.gov/copyright
is where you can download all the materials covered by Songwriter's Workshop.
More frequently asked questions and misunderstandings related to gaining permission to use copyrighted songs. "Can I change the words or the music slightly? "No, not
without explicit written permission", and most publishers will not grant you this permission. You may arrange the song in a proper key, Vocal style and instrumentation etc. for your specific use of
the song, but you may not alter the words or basic musical structure without permission. "Well what if a publisher denies me permission to use one of his songs?" Then you must not use that song. If
you do, you will be infringing on a copyright, which is breaking the law. Obviously, you need to find this out before you record the song. What If a producer, or a studio representative does commit
to securing all licenses for your project? "Fine, then it's easier on you. However, you must remember that you, being the owner of the recording project you are the one ultimately liable for the
licenses being executed,
He is not liable, you are. If anybody is taken to court, it would not be him it will be you. If you do have someone else secure the licenses for you. Make sure it gets done correctly. Better yet, do it yourself! "Do I have to get permission to have a song played on the radio?" As long as you have a valid license from the publisher to use the song for your original recording, then you don't have to get an additional license for the broadcast of that recording on radio or television. That will covered under an agreement between the station and A.S.C.A.P. B.M.Ior S.E.S.A.C.
Recording: You may want to avoid the headaches of an independent session by jobbing it out to a service. Fortunately, you can avoid some of the cost as well. Demo service fees start at around $50.00 per song for a simple guitar/vocal, or two guitars vocal, and you can add on whatever you want from there. Prices vary somewhat, depending on what instruments the owner of the service plays (Female vocals are usually extra, unless the owner of the service happens to be of that gender) And the different services have different "packages" available, (for example: two acoustic guitars, two electric guitars, bass, drum machine, and male vocals, with studio time included) They also have an "a la carte" fee schedule for additional instruments, vocals and studio time.
Record Promotion (By: Billy Arr)
The record promoter is one of the most important and least recognized people in the industry. The promoter who can innovate and develop new ideas that makes his records a success can just about write his own ticket in the business. He has to deal with every facet of the music industry, i.e. radio, television, newspapers, and periodicals. Without a good promoter a record does not have a chance of getting off the ground. If you have done a custom session and intend on releasing your record (CD) yourself, a professional promoter is definitely needed. Once again, play it safe. Check the history of those you think about doing business with. A good promoter is invaluable. A bad one is a disaster.
Contracts: (Songwriter's market)
You may encounter several types of contracts as you deal with the business end of songwriting, beginning with a legal agreement between
you and a co-writer as to what percentage of the writer's royalties each of you will receive, what you will do if a third party (e.g. a recording artist) wishes to change and receive credit as a
co-writer, and other things. Usually as long as the issues at stake are simple, and co-writer's respect each other and discuss their business philosophy in advance of writing a song, they can reach
an agreement verbally. A written contract is not necessary. (A written contract is usually necessary only when one writer wishes to control the rights to the song: or one of the writers wants to
remove his contribution if no use is made of the song within a certain period of time, e.g., take his lyrics and have them set to different music or vice versa) In other situations-if a publisher,
producer or Record Company wants to do business with you-you need a contract! You should always have any contract that is offered to you reviewed by a knowledgeable entertainment attorney.
Single Song Contracts: Probably the most common type of contract you will encounter at first will be the single song contract. A music publisher offers this type of contract when he wants to sign one (or more) of v our songs, but he doesn't want to hire you as a staff writer. This type of agreement rarely includes more than two or three songs. You assign your rights to a particular song to the publisher for an agreed-upon number of years (usually the life of the copyright) the songwriter's guild of America (S.G.A.) has drawn up a popular songwriter’s contract, which it believes to be the best minimum songwriter contract available. The Guild will send two copies of the contract to any interested songwriter upon request at no charge: additional copies cost $.50 each. S.G.A. will also review any contract offered to its members free of charge, to check it for fairness and completeness. Check them out on-line at www.songwritersguild.com
Every contract should contain this basic information: The publisher's name, the writer's name(s), the song title, the date, and purpose of the agreement. The songwriter also declares that the song is an original work and that he is the creator of the work. The contract must specify the royalties the songwriter will earn from various uses of the song. These include performance royalties, mechanical rights, print (Sheet music), foreign sub-publishing, and an agreement as to what will paid for any uses not specifically set forth in the wording of the contract. The songwriter should receive no less than 50% of the income his/her song generates. That means, whatever the song earns in royalties, the publisher and the songwriter should split 50-50. The songwriter's half is called "the writer's share" and the publisher's half is called "the publisher's share." If there is more than one songwriter, the songwriter's split "the writer's share." Sometimes songwriter's will negotiate for a percentage of "the publisher's share": that is called a co-publishing agreement. This is usually feasible only if a songwriter already has some hits and is unlikely for beginning songwriters. Other issues a contract should address include whether or not an advance will be paid to the artist at the time the contract is executed.
Performing Rights Organizations
Each performance rights organization has it's own unique method of determining how many times your song is performed during a given period. Their primary difference is how they make that make that determination. A.S.C.A.P. (American Society of Composers and Publishers) monitors individual radio and television stations as well as concerts and clubs where music is performed. B.M.I. (Broadcast Music Incorporated) uses logs sent to them from radio and TV. stations. While S.E.S.A.C. (Society of Entertainers, Singers, and Composers) uses the charts of the trade magazines to determine the popularity of individual songs.
You cannot affiliate with one of these societies until your song is recorded on a record (CD or cassette) or for a motion picture soundtrack (or performed on radio or television). A published songwriter must belong to the same society (organization) to which the publisher belongs. You will notice that many publishers have affiliate companies belonging to a different performance rights organization. This allows the publisher to deal with writers of each of the various performing rights societies.
A.S.C.A.P. B.M.I. and S.E.S.A.C. are highly professional and reputable friends of the songwriter. The Songwriter receives quarterly a statement of performances and a royalty check from his/her chosen performance rights society. The amount earned depends on how many times the organization has determined the song was performed and the kind of performance (e.g. a prime time network TV show vs. a local TV newscast)