Years after you heard that first album that inspired you to become a musician, there you are, sitting with your own original music in front of you. You’ve worked long and hard, it is a labour of love and your creations are now ready to be shared with the world. This is where the ‘business’ part of the music business comes in.
How do you ensure that your work is not stolen? How do you protect your rights and collect the dues owed to you? How do you get your music out in the first place? Welcome to the world of music publishing. The Record gets the experts to deconstruct this essential concept.
What is a music publisher?
Before the invention of the phonograph, songwriters earned income by relying on music publishers to sell sheet music of their songs. Even as radio and television replaced the piano in the parlor, music publishers continued to play an important role as popular singers continued to rely upon established songwriters to provide their material. However, with the advent of rock and roll (and especially the Beatles) popular recording artists began to write more of their own songs. Today, music publishers are concerned with administering copyrights, licensing songs to record companies and others, and collecting royalties on behalf of the songwriter.
Indian Copyright Law
Matters related to copyright in India are outlined under The Copyright Act, 1957. This extract defines the basic meaning of the term ‘copyright’:
Section 14. Meaning of copyright:-
For the purposes of this Act, "copyright" means the exclusive right subject to the provisions of this Act, to do or authorise the doing of any of the following acts in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof, namely,-
(a) in the case of a literary, dramatic or musical work, not being a computer programme,-
(i) to reproduce the work in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means;
(ii) to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation;
(iii) to perform the work in public, or communicate it to the public;
(iv) to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work;
(v) to make any translation of the work;
(vi) to make any adaptation of the work;
(vii) to do, in relation to a translation or an adaptation of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-clauses (i) to (vi);
(e) in the case of a sound recording-
(i) to make any other sound recording embodying it;
(ii) to sell or give on hire, or offer for sale or hire, any copy of the sound recording regardless of whether such copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasions;
(iii) to communicate the sound recording to the public.
For more detailed information visit the following websites:
www.education.nic.in/copyright/cpr.asp - Copyright Act 1957, registration form
www.indianmi.org – copyright and music industry information
www.indiavibes.com/iprs – online home of the Indian Performing Rights Society
UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS
To get a better understanding of what music publishing is all about, we spoke to Mr. Achille Forler, Managing Director, Deep Emotions Publishing. He outlines the fundamentals of publishing for us:
Intellectual Property is divided into two distinct fields:
a) Artistic and Literary property - called Authors’ rights or Copyrights - which rewards creativity;
b) Industrial property - Patents and Trademarks - which rewards invention and branding.
Unlike Patents and Trademarks, copyrights need no registration to be effective: you own a copyright when you can prove that you have created it.
The Song: From Creation to Distribution
- Now let’s turn to the music industry, which is my field of business. A lyricist and a composer write a song. The phase of creation is finished and the creators are the exclusive owners of a bundle of rights, called ‘publishing rights’. Usually, the creators entrust the worldwide administration of these rights to a professional called ‘music publisher’ who exploits the song and collects royalties worldwide on their behalf.
- This song can now be communicated to the public through a variety of ways. Up to the 20th century, it was communicated through sheet music and public performances (performers and orchestras). Printers would pay a royalty to the creators for every sheet music they sold. Performing right societies would collect royalties on every public performance and pay them to the owners of the works performed.
- Then came sound recordings and record companies. Then came the ‘talkies’ and film producers. Then radio and television (broadcasters). Then came telecom companies and ringtones. A song can also be exploited in graphic form: music sheets, lyrics published in a book, printed on a T-shirt… Since all these users - record companies, film producers, telecom companies, book publishers, apparel manufacturers, etc. - invest money in the reproduction, promotion and marketing of their version of the song, they enjoy what is called a ‘derived’ or ‘neighbouring’ right in that version, be it a sound recording, a ringtone, a book or a T-shirt. But not in the song, which remains the property of the songwriter.
HOW TO GET PUBLISHED
Now that you understand the concept of publishing, the question remains, how exactly do you go about getting your work published? The process is fairly straightforward according to Mr. Forler:
- He or she should send a demo CD or email (sorry, no cassettes, old technology!) 4 of their best songs.
- We don’t pay attention to the arrangements or the production quality. What we look for is individuality, capacity to tell a story in a few lines, architecture of the tune.
- A good publisher is someone who will sign even music that he doesn’t like, but one that has originality and is well crafted. As signing has a cost for the publisher, he will sign only if he believes in you. It is then up to you not to disappoint him. The greatest temptation for songwriters is to believe that they are also performers, they want to see their CD in the market with their photo on it! They must realise that it is (very) good business to write for others.
Visit www.deepemotions.com – detailed information on publishing, licensing and other resources
You can read the rest of our special feature Getting Started in the April 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.
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