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BMI's Complex Songwriter Contract...Could you offer your opinion?
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MultitrakMindset
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10th April 2010
Old 10th April 2010
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BMI's Complex Songwriter Contract...Could you offer your opinion?

Hi, I'm a songwriter/composer wanting to join BMI on the off chance that one of my songs actually gets licensed and lands on a commercial or something else that would end up generating some royalties. Well, I was looking over the second contract they have on there (that you're supposed to agree to if you're signing as a songwriter).

Well, it's COMPLICATED! I know signing up as a songwriter or artist is free, but I have to know what I'm agreeing to. Ideally, I'd love to have a lawyer help me understand it, but I don't have the money. I was wondering if anyone out here on GS could let me know a couple things about this.

One issue is, I was reading through a part of the contract that made it sound like they're saying I have to let BMI know what songs of mine are going to get licensed BEFORE the fact. But actually, this isn't possible because from what I've read the licensing companies aren't able to notify you of when and who is going to use your music. Anyone know if I'm just misunderstanding that? The other is, is there anything in the contract that surprised you that could make someone else hesitant to join? Something that just made you go "Man, that's ridiculous!"?

Not counting on much from royalties, but if I end up joining, it might as well be now vs. later. Thanks for any help, everyone.

Last edited by MultitrakMindset; 10th April 2010 at 03:38 AM.. Reason: Title change
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10th April 2010
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Well I'm not to crazy about the "service" I received from BMI(rude composer agent) or that the contract is for 2 years .If you don't send them a letter of termination you are automatically renewed for 2 more years.On top of that it has to be done within no MORE 6 months or LESS than 3 months end of the contracts term.I don't even want to think what hoops they are going to make me jump through just to get my royalties.

ASCAP and BMI's up to a year(sometimes more) to receive royalties(wait till you read that legaleese!!) ...SESAC guaranteed me sooner.I had an agent talk to me for an hour answering all my questions to my approval....I will be signing with SESAC as SOON as my term is up with BMI.

Yes they are more selective.They don't accept everyone(lyrcist with Nashville hit song lottery dreams)....but AFAIK... as long as you are serious about your carreer they are more than willing.

BP
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10th April 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButchP View Post
Well I'm not to crazy about the "service" I received from BMI(rude composer agent) or that the contract is for 2 years .If you don't send them a letter of termination you are automatically renewed for 2 more years.On top of that it has to be done within no MORE 6 months or LESS than 3 months end of the contracts term.I don't even want to think what hoops they are going to make me jump through just to get my royalties.

ASCAP and BMI's up to a year(sometimes more) to receive royalties(wait till you read that legaleese!!) ...SESAC guaranteed me sooner.I had an agent talk to me for an hour answering all my questions to my approval....I will be signing with SESAC as SOON as my term is up with BMI.

Yes they are more selective.They don't accept everyone(lyrcist with Nashville hit song lottery dreams)....but AFAIK... as long as you are serious about your carreer they are more than willing.

BP
Just make sure to file for separation in the short window that you can do it or you'll have to wait another year.
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11th April 2010
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Yeah, I did research for a while on both BMI and ASCAP and found they seem to both be corrupt. I wanted to see if I could join SESAC early on, but they seem to be only open to people who are known in the business.

Anyways, anyone who could help me understand more about just what it is I'm agreeing to if I sign with BMI, I'd be grateful.
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11th April 2010
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Yeah, I did research for a while on both BMI and ASCAP and found they seem to both be corrupt.
I agree. The only thing worse would be is if the government were to take them over.
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MultitrakMindset
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11th April 2010
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Yeah, they seem to operate like the IRS and CIA. I've read about some of the crafty tactics they've allegedly employed. Oh, well.
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14th April 2010
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Originally Posted by MultitrakMindset View Post
Yeah, they seem to operate like the IRS and CIA. I've read about some of the crafty tactics they've allegedly employed. Oh, well.


OK then, try to collect your performance royalties yourself. Look, it's the best we've got. Flip a coin and go ASCAP or BMI - your choice. Without them, writers are COMPLETELY hosed.

Like WC said, it's the worst form of government - except for all the rest.

What BMI wants out in advance is for the songs to be registered with them, so that when a cue sheet or performance comes in, they can correctly attrribute it to YOU. If you wait until 6 months or a year after it "airs", that money has already been thrown into the "unknown" pot and distributed to other writers. It takes about 2 minutes to register a song online, (faster after you get the hang of it) and note that the song must be assigned to a publisher. Which you should have done anyway - either your own publishing, or ???


BP - BMI is not a year behind. Nor have they been for quite some time. They are exactly 9 months behind - and if you figure they can't close their books until the end of a quarter, they are really only 6 months behind. If you can figure out the billions they collect, how to collect for foreign PRO's worldwide, and manage a distribution system any better, I'm sure you could land a 6+ figure job with them. signed - the original no-caps bp
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14th April 2010
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Thanks, drBill

"What BMI wants out in advance is for the songs to be registered with them, so that when a cue sheet or performance comes in, they can correctly attrribute it to YOU. If you wait until 6 months or a year after it "airs", that money has already been thrown into the "unknown" pot and distributed to other writers."

That was what I was wondering. So I also have to have a publisher tho? And I'm guessing I wouldn't probably be able to just say that I'm publishing my songs, unless I went through the proper channels, correct? Let me also say that I'm beginning to work with music libraries, so I don't know if that has a bearing on this or not. I don't know if I may be able to claim them as a publishing company.

Thanks for your info.
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14th April 2010
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Music libraries will have their own publishing, and for the most part, will want you to assign your publishing to them, or if they are a "renaming" library, will allow you to keep your publishing and will rename your work.

All you have to do with BMI is do a request to open a publishing company with them. Give them 2-3 names (in case someone worldwide is using the same name. If the name is not used before, then that's your publishing co name. If it's been used before somewhere worldwide, then they will go to your #2 or #3, etc name until they get one that will clear. You can publish your own works, but BMI needs a publisher assigned to every work. You of course need to sign the bmi contract and fill out the particulars. Eventually, you will need to do a DBA so that you can get a bank account with your publishing companies name on it. (That way you can cash those fat BMI publishing checks.)

It's as simple and easy as that. A must do for anyone interested in writing IMO.
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30th August 2010
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How long before a person hears back from BMI regarding their songwriter application?

If they don't know me then how or through what ways would I be able to get my music to BMI? If they do not know my music, then would this determine the outcome of my songwriter application?
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