ASCAP, Royalties, Copy Rights, HELP!!
Old 13th December 2012
  #1
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
ASCAP, Royalties, Copy Rights, HELP!!

Aloha Everybody!

I was wondering if I could pick the brains of all you gear sluts, for some advice, opinions, and feedback.

I am an engineer, own a small recording and rehearsal studio. I have plenty of engineering experience, and education. But I lack all of that in the business side.

So, as I've been growing my studio and recording groups. Finally 2 singles are ready to drop! (Thank the lord!!) Both independent musicians, putting the songs out independently. I have been offered percentages and produced points on both singles. Both groups are registered with ASCAP, and tell me I have to register in order to collect my royalties?
Is this true? AND When I go to ASCAP.com it seems that it is only intended for Artists, and Publishers, Where do the engineers go?

And while I have your attention. Is it necessary to copyright your recordings? Does copy righting my recording conflict with the copy right of the song?

All help would be hugely appreciated!
Old 13th December 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Realziment's Avatar
 

Hey welcome to GS. This post is in the wrong section I'm sure when a mod sees it they will move to another section where you will get more responses to your question.
Old 29th December 2012
  #3
Gear interested
 

It seems in this case you might come under the Publisher section
Old 29th December 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PoiDogRecording View Post
Aloha Everybody!

I was wondering if I could pick the brains of all you gear sluts, for some advice, opinions, and feedback.

I am an engineer, own a small recording and rehearsal studio. I have plenty of engineering experience, and education. But I lack all of that in the business side.

So, as I've been growing my studio and recording groups. Finally 2 singles are ready to drop! (Thank the lord!!) Both independent musicians, putting the songs out independently. I have been offered percentages and produced points on both singles. Both groups are registered with ASCAP, and tell me I have to register in order to collect my royalties?
Is this true? AND When I go to ASCAP.com it seems that it is only intended for Artists, and Publishers, Where do the engineers go?

And while I have your attention. Is it necessary to copyright your recordings? Does copy righting my recording conflict with the copy right of the song?

All help would be hugely appreciated!
#1 You should speak to a lawyer to get a basic understanding of the business. You cannot copyright anything as an engineer. Only the song writers (music and lyrics) are listed on the copyright.

#2 Only writers (music or lyrics) get publishing from ASCAP/BMI. That covers rights of the song to be performed publicly (radio, tv, live, etc.) You would have to be listed as a writer to get any publishing. More info here

#3 Record sales royalties are a whole other ball of wax, that has nothing to do with ASCAP/BMI, and is negotiated with a legal agreement with the record label. As an engineer you only get your engineering fee, and NO royalties, when the work is done and that's it. A few legendary engineers like Lord Alge do receive royalties in addition to their fees but it's rare. If they are offering you sales royalties you need to get a legal agreement.

Being that it's an indy situation I would advise you to just get your engineering fee. In 99% of these situations there will not be any royalties or publishing. It's usually a mechanism for guys to get free studio time by offering the dreaded "percentage" of "nothing".

Also, it doesn't hurt to sign up for ASCAP or BMI to take care of the publishing of all the songs you may write in the future.
Old 29th December 2012
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by work2do View Post
#1 You should speak to a lawyer to get a basic understanding of the business. You cannot copyright anything as an engineer. Only the song writers (music and lyrics) are listed on the copyright.

#2 Only writers (music or lyrics) get publishing from ASCAP/BMI. That covers rights of the song to be performed publicly (radio, tv, live, etc.) You would have to be listed as a writer to get any publishing. More info here

#3 Record sales royalties are a whole other ball of wax, that has nothing to do with ASCAP/BMI, and is negotiated with a legal agreement with the record label. As an engineer you only get your engineering fee, and NO royalties, when the work is done and that's it. A few legendary engineers like Lord Alge do receive royalties in addition to their fees but it's rare. If they are offering you sales royalties you need to get a legal agreement.

Being that it's an indy situation I would advise you to just get your engineering fee. In 99% of these situations there will not be any royalties or publishing. It's usually a mechanism for guys to get free studio time by offering the dreaded "percentage" of "nothing".

Also, it doesn't hurt to sign up for ASCAP or BMI to take care of the publishing of all the songs you may write in the future.
This information isn't entirely accurate. There are separate copyrights for a composition and a sound recording. In most situations in which an artist is recording for a label, the label owns that master, thus the copyright to the recording, while the composer owns the copyright to the song. But pretty much any arrangement can be worked out. An artist might own the master but grant exclusive right to it to the label for a defined period of time, after which control reverts to the artist. This could be the case even if the artist wrote none of his or her work.

As far as royalties for your services as an engineer, those can be anything you want to work out. There is no statutory limitation of royalties to the Lord-Alge brothers. You can work out what ever situation you want with an artist, but you do need to get it in writing. if I were a songwriter hiring an engineer, I would be loath to put an engineer down as a writer if that person didn't actually write anything. But i could give that engineer a piece of the publishing side. That engineer would need to have a publishing company - just a name really - and the song could be copyrighted with a portion of the publishing side of the composition being owned by that engineer's company. Then that publishing company would have to register with BMI, ASCAP or one of the other performance rights societies. It doesn't have to be the same one to which the artist is signed.

You could also work out with the artist that you co-own the master and then copyright the master in both your names. Then any money earned from the exploitation of that master would be split according to the agreed upon percentage.

If you believe in these artists you might be interested in waiving some or all of your fee in exchange for payments of these sorts. This is something you will need to figure out on a case by case basis as you grow your business.
Old 30th December 2012
  #6
Gear interested
 

Thread Starter
Thanks Stephen really great info there. If I could pick your brain more, Would you recommended BMI over ASCAP from an engineer/ "publishers" side? Or are they more or less same with different names?

And PS.
I meant to post this thread in a different group but couldn't figure out how t0 move it
Old 30th December 2012
  #7
ASCAP and BMI and CESAC are all essentially doing the same thing and it's hard to tell if one would be better for you than the others. One way would be to register with BMI and then compare earnings, if there are any, with the ASCAP artists. I've had friends who co-write songs and choose different organizations and then compare. ASCAP has always been great for me. I could make conjectures as to which which situations call for one or the other but it would be based more on rumor. As far as one being better for a non-songwriter, I don't think there is a difference. You might want to peruse their respective sites and see what sorts of services they provide throughout the year besides collecting royalties to see which of those suits you. ASCAP, for instance, has an annual convention called EXPO.

A bit more information on music publishing: Publishing income from a composition is split into two halves. 50% belongs to the writer and is inalienable from that writer. It can't be sold, although some companies find ways around this. 50% is owed by the publisher. A songwriter with no deals or encumbrances automatically is considered to both halves and will earn 100% of publishing income. The 50% that is the publishers share may be sold, traded, given in part or in whole. The other half is as inseparable as a persons consciousness. this is to protect songwriters (see Willie Nelson and "Crazy.") So, the most you can get as a publisher is 100% of half, or 50%.

Go to the SBA website and learn about registering a company name and getting a DBA license. When I lived in CT I got a DBA license for $25. I should have gotten the ABBA license. Then I'd be a very rich man. Ah, but I digress.

Keep this in mind: by waiving some or all of your recording fees in exchange for a piece of publishing or part ownership of the masters, you are essentially going into a new business. Set boundaries. If you rely on income from recording artists to put food on your family then you can't become known as the guy who will work for free. Set your rates and stick to them unless you, as a budding A&R man, really believe in the artist. Trust your instincts. Do their songs stick in your head? Go see a gig with a friend. Do they have a following? Put on a good show? Make you want to throw your panties at them? etc.
Old 30th December 2012
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by work2do View Post
In 99% of these situations there will not be any royalties or publishing. It's usually a mechanism for guys to get free studio time by offering the dreaded "percentage" of "nothing
I'm assuming that they're offering you points instead of actual cash.
If not please disregard.

Run don't walk from this "deal". As stated before 100% of nothing is nothing.
Get paid by the hour or whatever per song deal you have worked out and let them keep their publishing.
The chances of their tunes generating anything are like winning the lottery.
I just remembered my last client wanted to give me publishing in lieu of payment. Of course they're convinced that they'll be the next whatever, but until that happens I still have to pay my bills and can't wait around for them to become famous!!
It's nice to get paid.
Old 30th December 2012
  #9
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by henge View Post
I'm assuming that they're offering you points instead of actual cash.
If not please disregard.

Run don't walk from this "deal". As stated before 100% of nothing is nothing.
Get paid by the hour or whatever per song deal you have worked out and let them keep their publishing.
The chances of their tunes generating anything are like winning the lottery.
I just remembered my last client wanted to give me publishing in lieu of payment. Of course they're convinced that they'll be the next whatever, but until that happens I still have to pay my bills and can't wait around for them to become famous!!
It's nice to get paid.

When I am offered a lousy five or ten points by an artist, I suggest to them that they make the same offer to a wealthy relative, get the cash and use the cash to pay me.

A few of the smarter ones think it through and realize the cash-risk-reward calculations are terrible. They would be embarrassed to approach an actual businessman with such a sketchy deal.

But I guess having a studio is not being an 'actual businessman' ....

Once I had a guy, professional musician mind you, offer me "double my rate" once his band was signed! That was his deal! Not even a percentage, just a cash bonus! I literally laughed out loud.


There is a chance the OP still wants to play this game. For fun or for lack of anything else going on... But he should understand that HE is the one financing the album or singles.

In a very real sense, this makes him The Label, not just The Engineer. His percentage should be really really big, so that on the off-chance that this product does take off it pays him for all the other percentages of nothing.

If the artist doesn't like it, let him take the financial risk or find a backer that will.
Old 30th December 2012
  #10
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Trask View Post
The 50% that is the publishers share may be sold, traded, given in part or in whole. The other half is as inseparable as a persons consciousness. .
This is generally true. However, as with all generalities, there are legitimate exceptions to the rule. The most notable here is the "band" scenario. One person writes the song, the band depends on writers income to live and work as a band, so the "writer" becomes all the band members in equal shares. Or unequal depending on their arrangement.

Also, although the writer does own 100% of their share, certain publishing assignments may leave certain parties out in the cold with no income from a piece of music. In these situations it is not unusual for the writer to share writers credits & royalties with another person. For instance.....our OP records a song, and the writer instead of payment gives our recording engineer friend 50% or 100% of the publishing. Which of course at this point is nothing. Somewhere down the line, said artist gets courted by a major label or publisher, but the label / publisher demands 100% of the publishing and is not willing to buy out the 50%/100% from our recording engineer. Writer delivers or the deal goes south. So the writer asks the engineer to release his share of the publishing in exchange for putting him down as partial writer. Happens all the time in various scenario's and for various reasons.

right? wrong? legal? Not for me to judge. But it's a "legitimate" business practice that greases the right wheels and keeps the machine running.
Old 30th December 2012
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
This is generally true. However, as with all generalities, there are legitimate exceptions to the rule. The most notable here is the "band" scenario. One person writes the song, the band depends on writers income to live and work as a band, so the "writer" becomes all the band members in equal shares. Or unequal depending on their arrangement.
The assumption that I was making was that the engineer was not being listed as a co-writer. When bands share songwriting income equally, one of the main ways that is done is to list the song as being written by the band. i was trying to offer the likeliest scenario in which an engineer with no writing involvement might get access to publishing income without being listed as a writer. I wasn't proposing that it isn't possible to list non-writers as writers. Film composers do this all the time. I've done it myself.
Old 30th December 2012
  #12
By the way, Poi Dog, you never said wether the bands were offering royalties in lieu of payment or just as some kind of bonus.
Old 31st December 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
Just ask for a producers credit .
but only if the band actually makes it or sells a specific amount of stock.
Would you really go see the band play live at the bar and say,
You sold 4 CDs this week, wheres my $1.50

I tell people if they get signed and use the recording we make, I get a producers credit. But Iv never asked anybody to ever sign anything, because its really just a joke
Old 31st December 2012
  #14
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
When I am offered a lousy five or ten points by an artist, I suggest to them that they make the same offer to a wealthy relative, get the cash and use the cash to pay me.

A few of the smarter ones think it through and realize the cash-risk-reward calculations are terrible. They would be embarrassed to approach an actual businessman with such a sketchy deal.

But I guess having a studio is not being an 'actual businessman' ....

Once I had a guy, professional musician mind you, offer me "double my rate" once his band was signed! That was his deal! Not even a percentage, just a cash bonus! I literally laughed out loud.


There is a chance the OP still wants to play this game. For fun or for lack of anything else going on... But he should understand that HE is the one financing the album or singles.

In a very real sense, this makes him The Label, not just The Engineer. His percentage should be really really big, so that on the off-chance that this product does take off it pays him for all the other percentages of nothing.

If the artist doesn't like it, let him take the financial risk or find a backer that will.
Back in the 80s, a lot of studios in NYC did "spec deals" very similar to what you've just described, only with "down time," and usually only with people who they had a pretty close relationship to. I had such a deal with Richie Kessler at Platinum Island. I was Chief Engineer there, and part of my arrangement was that I could use free time for my own projects, as long as it was understood that Richie would be paid "book rate" (about double the going rate) for the studio if anything was signed by a label. As it happened, one of my projects did get signed by Atlantic, and we tracked the album at Platinum for book rate. So it was a win/win in that instance. Richie was always a gentleman in his business dealings, so while not the norm, there are examples of this sort of thing working out to everyone's advantage.
Old 31st December 2012
  #15
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beautyfish View Post
Back in the 80s, a lot of studios in NYC did "spec deals" very similar to what you've just described, only with "down time," and usually only with people who they had a pretty close relationship to. I had such a deal with Richie Kessler at Platinum Island. I was Chief Engineer there, and part of my arrangement was that I could use free time for my own projects, as long as it was understood that Richie would be paid "book rate" (about double the going rate) for the studio if anything was signed by a label. As it happened, one of my projects did get signed by Atlantic, and we tracked the album at Platinum for book rate. So it was a win/win in that instance. Richie was always a gentleman in his business dealings, so while not the norm, there are examples of this sort of thing working out to everyone's advantage.
Yes it's great that it worked out, but certainly not the norm! If one of the spec bands I dealt with ever got signed, I would need to use the money to pay for my heart attack!

But it doesn't sound like he made those offers EXPECTING a financial "windfall". Or expecting any money at all. If you added up all the free time he gave away, vs this one success story, would he be 'ahead'?

The situation you describe is also different from others in that the studio owner's spec 'investment' consists of handing you the keys and going home, not sitting there for hours and hours engineering for no pay.
Old 31st December 2012
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
If one of the spec bands I dealt with ever got signed, I would need to use the money to pay for my heart attack!
Spit out me drink!!
Old 31st December 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 
ksandvik's Avatar
 

Just a note, you don't need to belong to the same royalty society in order to collect collaboration related royalties. Both ASCAP and BMI accepts across-society splits.
Old 1st January 2013
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
When I am offered a lousy five or ten points by an artist, I suggest to them that they make the same offer to a wealthy relative, get the cash and use the cash to pay me.
Very sage advice. Also, if you really are expecting to get a percentage of something, you should fairly ask to see three years of audited financials from the band. What? No audited finanicals? Then how do you know they have the financial controls in place in order to track what they earn, what they spend, and what they owe you? Without financial controls, the best intentions in the world cannot hope to deliver a proper accounting to you.
Old 1st January 2013
  #19
i'm right there with folks' skepticism about cutting rates in exchange for a piece of publishing of the master (points are meaningless) I think if someone has a desire to be a producer, or have a small label and feels that they have the taste and the instincts to find those groups that will make money from their recordings and invest time and talent into them, that shouldn't be discouraged. not every musician that wants to make it does but that's not a reason to tell every budding rocker to give it up and become a lawyer. The same holds true for a studio owner. As long as one keeps in mind that studio fees pay the bills, finding bands that one believes in and becoming a part of their career is something some people might need to try and see if they are good at.
Old 1st January 2013
  #20
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Trask View Post
I think if someone has a desire to be a producer, or have a small label and feels that they have the taste and the instincts to find those groups that will make money from their recordings and invest time and talent into them, that shouldn't be discouraged.
I agree if you want to be a label or a producer, you need to take these types of risks, especially to get started.

I am only complaining about such offers being bad news/bad deal for someone in the position of engineer.

as the label or the producer, you are calling the shots, thereby presumably increasing the odds that a viable commercial Product will come out of the session. You might even have some fun.

But if you are an engineer being asked to work on spec, you are not only working for free, but most likely taking orders from people you consider your inferiors as Producers. And since your time is "free", no one will mind wasting lots of it.
Old 1st January 2013
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I agree if you want to be a label or a producer, you need to take these types of risks, especially to get started.

I am only complaining about such offers being bad news/bad deal for someone in the position of engineer.

as the label or the producer, you are calling the shots, thereby presumably increasing the odds that a viable commercial Product will come out of the session. You might even have some fun.

But if you are an engineer being asked to work on spec, you are not only working for free, but most likely taking orders from people you consider your inferiors as Producers. And since your time is "free", no one will mind wasting lots of it.
i couldn't agree with that last paragraph more. It's very important if someone is a studio owner/engineer that they understand that working for a piece of the recording and for a credit is an entirely different business than renting out their time, expertise, equipment and space by the hour or day and to treat it as such. in fact, that kind of goes for any position in the musical field. The less I get paid as a composer, the less respect I usually get. And I tend to cut my rate only if it's a project in which I believe strongly.
Topic:
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
James Roper-Kum / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
48
af_analog / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
13
burst / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording
67

Forum Jump
 
Register FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.