If you are a veteran artist, you should know a thing or two about copyrights. If you are a newbie to the music industry, then here is the perfect opportunity for you to learn. But regardless of the time frame in which you as an artist have been affiliated with the business, many of you still misunderstand the specifics regarding copyrights. Thus, we hear of copyright infringement lawsuits and wonder how did the artist get himself or herself in such a financial mess.
Well, copyrights are tricky. When the concept of copyrights was first outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, Congress later established specific ground rules regarding infringing upon those rights (i.e. 1909 U.S. Copyright Law, 1976 Copyright Revision Act, and the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act). These laws helped artists understand the various types of “works” that are protected.
Types of “Works” Protected By Copyright Laws
- Musical works (words included)
- Dramatic works (musical compositions included)
- Motion pictures
- Other Audiovisual works
- Sound Recordings
These “works” are not protected, however, if they do not contain these statutes: an original work of authorship and a tangible medium of expression that is now known and later developed. In other words, you must prove that you are the ORIGINAL OWNER/AUTHOR of the work. Secondly, the work must be solid and/or material enough that it is recognized and can be proven to have been later developed.
Your exclusive rights are spelled out in the laws. Exclusive rights apply to each individual work created by the author. Although this may seem a bit confusing, Brabec’s ‘Music Money And Success’ book does a great job at clearly defining each law:
1. “The right to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords.” – This right includes the ability to authorize copies of a work that are fixed in practically any form, including tapes, records, CDs, and sheet music.
2. “The right to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.” – This very important right allows a copyright owner to authorize arrangements, motion picture adaptations, abridgements, translations, sound recordings and so on the that are based on the copyrighted work.
3. “The right to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work on the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending. ” – This right gives the copyright owner initial control over the first authorized record or copy of the work. After the first “copy” is authorized, all others may record the work simply by complying with the compulsory licensing provisions of the act.
4. “The right to perform the copyrighted work publicly. ” – Financially, this is one of copyright’s most important rights, as it forms the basis of all ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC licensing, as well as the direct and source licensing of music users.
5. “The right to display the copyrighted work publicly.” This right authorizes individual images of a wok such as projecting an image of the copyrighted work on a screen.
6. “In the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.”
BUT…with most laws, there are provisions or ways to maneuver around the laws. Exclusive rights can be exempt is the artists’ work is reproduced under the “fair use” rule. “Fair Use” exemptions include reproductions used by educational facilities/programs, religious performances, charity or non-profit performances, and even home-based performances can be used without the authorization of the copyright owner.
One last factor to note…copyrights can be and are oftentimes transferred to another party. The creator of the work MUST authorize the copyright transfer through written agreement…signed (and sometimes notarized).
Jermaine Dupri is in the news again. To no surprise, however, it is due to another financial mishap. This time with one of his ex-business partners.
In January, Eddie Weathers filed a $1 million civil lawsuit against Jermaine Dupri for unpaid profits earned from a business they both owned. According to the court documents retained by RadarOnline, both men established Dieniahmar Music LLC in 2005. The name derived from the names of Dupri and Weather’s first born children. A year after the business was established, Dupri entered a co-publishing deal with EMI Music. Weathers says that Dupri told EMI, “he was the sole owner of Dieniahmar Music, when in fact he was not.”
Therefore, from 2006 to 2013, royalties were paid to Dupri and his business manager directly from EMI.
“On April 11, 2008, Weathers received a check from Mauldin’s new business manager…in the amount of $275,752.97 which represented two years of back pay royalties due Weathers,” the civil suit states.
Weathers claims that when Dupri hired a new business manager in 2011, Willie Carter, his payments ceased, or came late, or were just a fraction of what he was owed.
And when Dupri told Weathers he planned to sell Dieniahmar Music to EMI in April 2013, he claims he was promised a $238,000 cut — which he never got.
Weathers is suing Dieniahmar Music, Jermaine Mauldin, and Willie Carter for $250, 000 plus any other royalties owed. He is seeking $1 million.
It is time for me to be honest: I had no idea that Beezy was taking producing seriously. Of course I understood/admired his access to all of the instrumentals that hip hop had to offer. I also thoroughly enjoyed his commentary about production and how they mesh with lyrics through his album reviews. But Beezy as a producer? This was not the expected direction of a man better known for calling A.S.A.P Rocky’s mixtape trash or recycle binning Mac Miller’s last retail album.
Plus, the main attraction over his beats was going to be Nova. I haven’t heard Nova since “W.E.E.D.” off of the Dead End Hip Hop mixtape.
So, what could really be made of Tangents & Distractions?
With thorough listens, it can be said that this was a project of dope rhymes, well-crafted production, and chemistry.
Impressively, Beezy’s production is both fresh and vintage at the same time. Just as easily as he will flip a sample inspired production, he will also use something that is actually more electronic and/or sample free. With gems like the soul stirring “Everything’s Change” matched with the sonic madness of “Armageddon”, there will be some diversity to the project. While Beezy’s production isn’t “fully developed”, it is far from “amateur sounding”. In summary, it is apparent that Beezy is acclimated to using different musical approaches.
As far as being an up and coming microphone master, Nova puts in much effort. Any man that flips lyrics about “soul being in flux capacitor”, “time travel/Delorean trips”, and “getting Doc to make him a beat” is someone that is working to make some connections with subsequent line and rhyme. On “Omelette/World Is Mine”, Nova takes note that “people turn to ashes for the money you earn (urn)” and if he “didn’t poop/would people be shit?/ Nope”. Although his style isn’t for everyone, it can be understood that the listener has to respect his exertion. In short, Nova puts in work and it shows.
To be honest, the only thing that I could say to detract from this project was its lack of a theme/focus and talent not fully realized. This project screams “people coming together to have fun in the studio”. With that, you have the variation of production from Beezy and Nova mainly ripping mics. Once Beezy really envelops himself into being a “full-fledged producer” and Nova concentrates his nimble lyrical expressions will we truly realize the possibilities of this duo. However, we haven’t truly seen what their potential can actually produce.
With Saire Music’s airy vocals being the only guest appearance on the tracks, Nova and Beezy crafted a project with some replay value. Even if they haven’t reached the zenith of their talents, they constructed a free album that eloquently expresses their labors to make good music. Tangents & Distractions can come off as atypical from the norm in hip hop. This is actually fine. Be forewarned: this is only the beginning for this due because there is more to come.
If you are in the know, then you would understand that Evidence and The Alchemist has some of the best emcee-producer chemistry there is to have. Anything that they have worked on together has been practically dope to even classic underground greatness. Many go back to their work together on the Dilated Peoples’ albums. However, their obvious harmony evolved into the demand for an album to complete the cypher of musical synergy they share. With that shared, they came together to form The Stepbrothers.
After releasing their first album Lord Steppington, it is easy to see that their work together is just two “brothers having fun in the studio”.
The production on this album veers toward the range of “good-pretty good-banging”. The hard hitting track on “Byron G” does nothing but accentuate the lyrics of Evidence, Domo Genesis, and The Whooliganz. Meanwhile, the subjective darkness on “See The Rich Man Play” only gives Roc Marciano and The Stepbrothers room to express what the production demands them to. Yet, the 3-beat-for-the-price-of-1 “Swimteam Rastas” allows them to rhyme with style and fluctuating subject matter and literary devices. Keeping things short and sweet, the production worked.
Lyrically, The Stepbrothers didn’t delve too far into any type of territory of justified meaning. To explain even further, they were in it to flex their skills and have fun over the beats. While there were different hints of truth, ideals, and beliefs, there were never any overwhelming messages being presented. Then again, having a lot of “messages” would have taken away from the fact that these guys are in the studio to have fun and bang out a synergetic album. Thus, the wordplay remains wordy with very few burdening messages.
With Lord Steppington, you get more no frills hip hop: banging beats, dope lyrics, and not too many controlling concepts. This is the perfect display of what The Stepbrothers need to offer. Instead of an Evidence album reflecting on life in reference to the weather, we get an album of two guys gelling together to make great music. So, I suggest taking that step into the realm of Lord Steppington.
Strangely, rapper The Game’s name has been brought up in a copyright infringement lawsuit between Sony/ATV and a 1970′s/1980′s rock group.
Donnie Iris and two others associated with the rock group, The Jaggerz, have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Pittsburgh. The lawsuit claims that their song “Memoirs of a Traveler” was sampled in the song “Letter to the King”, which was included on The Game’s 2008 album LAX. Iris, his co-writer Eugene “Benny” Faiella, and the estate of their former manager Joseph V. Rock are claiming that there are a substantial amount of unpaid royalties not accounted for. Thus, they are suing Sony/ATV.
But why if The Game is signed to a different label?
The Game is signed to Geffen/Universal. However, the label says that the royalties from the song were paid to EMI Publishing Company. Unfortunately, the lawsuit states that EMI never passed the money on to the plaintiffs. Plus, Sony bought out EMI in June 2012. This is why Sony is being sued.
The plaintiffs also claim that they have tried several times to settle this issue out of court. But, since January 2013, they believe Sony hasn’t made any real effort to pay them, even after being sent several correspondences throughout the year.
The guys are simply tired of waiting. Therefore, a lawsuit was filed last Wednesday. The amount the songwriters are suing for are unknown.
For producers who may be sitting on boat loads of music and would like to make money in television, here’s some information that may be of benefit. With the television and film projects on a never-ending cycle, there are many opportunities for talented producers to get their songs placed into a TV program. But, to go about doing this, you have to be diligent, patient, business-minded, and importantly…connected to the right people.
First, if you are connected to a music publishing company, this is good. Most of the time locating television opportunities will start there. The publishing company can help promote your music catalogues to various television and film production outlets. If you have a hardworking publishing representative, he or she will work diligently to push your CD packages, catalogue lists, email samplers, songbooks, etc to various places. If not the rep, then the publishing company’s TV and film department will search for opportunities and secure placements for its clients.
Another way to try to get your songs into television programs is to network with film production companies. Establishing a good working relationship with the key individuals who work in the actual music department of these companies, can prove to be very valuable. The tighter the relationship the better chances you have in knowing what programs are coming down the line. This way you will have the heads up and an opportunity to submit your samples first.
In addition, independent music consultants or music clearance companies can be of help too. Of course, the internet is always a good source. There are music websites that allow producers to upload their samples and catalogues for others to listen. You never know when or which television production company is scouring through music online. Who knows? They may hear one of your tracks and contact you directly.
A key thing to know is what exactly are they looking for. Television production companies may be working on a futuristic 2050-inspired show and is in search of music that can represent that time frame. If you are privy to that info, sort through your catalogue and only submit samples that can represent 2050. Do not send over music that sound like it’s from the 1990′s or 1980′s. That is not what they asked for. However, if there is a television scene (at some point) that reflects back to 1990, then wait until they make the request before you submit any songs.
The goals is to make the right connections in this business to where you can hop on these opportunities first. If you are serious about your craft and know that your music is worthy of air time, always keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in television and film, make the proper connections, and be ready to hand over some great music when that time comes.
We’ll get a little deeper into the business of television and music production later on. Until then, use this info as a reference to help you get started.
Jermaine Dupri is under some financial strains. Dupri started off owing the state of Georgia more than $493,000 in back taxes for 2007. Also, he owes $14,000 in unpaid property taxes on a home in Fayette County. Even his mansion was to be foreclosed on. Yet, the auction was stopped at the last minute. To add insult to injury, he has missed his child support payments for his youngest daughter. It is safe to say that Dupri somehow managed not to pay people.
The biggest concern is this: how did all of this manage to happen?
The reason why this is confusing is because he is a producer and not an artist. Producers are known to get percentage points of whatever an album sells. Also, there is always the consideration that producers don’t have to worry about recouping costs. Recouping Costs are costs that are incurred because the record company has to earn its money back from what was spent on the album . After those costs are recouped, then the artists can earn their percentage points. Unless a producer is producing an album for themselves, they don’t have to worry about those costs. In turn, producers usually tend to make their money without worrying about if the album is a success or not.
So, a multi-platinum producer all of a sudden has financial issues and there is little known as to why?
At this point, one can only use the evidence and draw a conclusion. From what is seen, Jermaine Dupri created a lifestyle that he may have some trouble sustaining. Either that or he has become irresponsible at paying his bills.
To start, having issues with the IRS tends to happen to musicians. Most musicians should always have a bookkeeper and an accountant to make sure that money is accounted for and taxes are paid on the income . This is especially true for artists who have a tendency to do plenty of touring and have to take note of their road earnings. Many musicians have to realize that, for better or for worse, they are “businesses” within themselves. All businesses need to keep their income accounted for. The taxes have to be paid. Extensively, bookkeeping and accounting practices are ways to not worry about IRS issues.
Another concern is Dupri’s recent work output.
To shoot frank, he hasn’t been doing much of anything. Back in 2006, he did production for Dem Franchize Boyz, Avant, Isley Brothers, Monica, Jagged Edge, Donnell Jones, Chingy, 3LW, Daz Dillinger, and Bow Wow. However, his production output and placement on albums has dried up. In 2009 and 2010, he lent his production talents to Fabolous, Bow Wow, Hot Dollar, Nelly, Monica, Usher, and Mariah’s Christmas album. Only one of those albums went platinum (Usher) and another one went gold (Monica). Fabolous may eventually go gold, but that won’t be anytime soon. And the rest of those albums?? I wouldn’t even worry about the sales they have produced. Plus, his production on most of those albums was limited to a placement or two. Conclusively, his production output has staggered.
Even still, with a lack of production and album sales for the artists Dupri works with, there is still a consideration of cash flow inputs and outputs. There is no real confirmation of what he spends and what he still consistently brings in. What can be understood is that he is accustomed to a lifestyle. Having millions of dollars bring about millionaire habits. Once that money is lessened, a person is still left with their old habits, bills, and debts. In the end, it remains to be seen what Dupri’s money is actually doing.
There is plenty for the average person to learn from this situation. For one, a person should make sure taxes are paid. Another lesson is to live either within his/her means. Better yet, how many will make sure they live below their means? It is unfortunate to learn lessons from another’s hardship. Still, Dupri showed all of us how important it is to take care of their finances.
Article by Mark Harris, contributing writer for STACKS Magazine
It is no surprise that Sean “Jay-Z” Carter is the second richest hip-hop artists [read here]. With a net worth of $450 million, his ability to strategically create a successful brand and various business ventures proves that this former street hustler is smarter than your ivy-league spun CEOs.
Forbes writer, Zack O’Malley Greensburg, recently penned a book about the mogul titled Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office. The book highlights the highs and lows of Jay-Z’s rise to the top. With many successes under his belt, the book also shines a light on several failed business ventures of Mr. Carter.
Check out this video of Mr. Greensburg with Dan Gross/Yahoo!:
To read the full article, check out Yahoo! Finance.
If you are a music lover, such as myself, I’m sure it’s frustrating when you purchase a CD and there’s only 3 or 4 hot songs on it. No wonder why people download their favorite tracks straight from the internet. Right? I mean really. Why waste your hard earn dollars on a wack CD? I often wonder do artists and their producers really devote real time to create the songs. Also, the record labels are adding fuel to the fire by green-lighting these wack a** projects! If you are an artist, I’m begging you to please at least give your fans 7 good songs on a 14 track album.
Off the top of my head, I can think of several artists whose albums have been undesirable. But I won’t use this outlet to call them out. LOL. The music speaks for itself. I’m sure if you sit back and think long enough you too can come up with several that you wish you’d never purchased…even if the CD only put you back $9.99 at Target. So what is the key to making great music? I did a little research on the net and was able to comprise this list of helpful tips. Artists this is your time to pay attention! The next time you go in the studio try out these tips to making a great song. Let your next song be your BEST song.
Key Ways To Making A Good Song
1. Create a Diverse Musical Repetoire – Listening to various types of music not only helps you expand your creativity, but it can also maintain your uniqueness. The key to standing out is to be different. Although there has been some artists who has gained a little stardom from jumping on the bandwagon [copying the next guy], this technique jump started their inevitable downfall. So be yourself! Do you!
2. School Yourself About Music – The worst thing is to pay for studio time and you have no idea what you are doing. You are not only wasting the producers time, but you are wasting you or your labels money. If you are not sure how harmonies are developed or how to sing in key, take voice lessons. Go to the library and pick up a few music books to read. Or ask an expert to help you understand chords and the correct format to recording. Be prepared!
3. Seize Inspiration – You never know when words come to mind or when you’ll be inspired. This happens all the time. So why not capitalize off of these moments. Keep a pad and pen handy. Use your cellphone to document lyrics. It is these spontaneous moments that a re proven to be beneficial for artists. Some of the greatest lyrics ever heard were written at the spur of the moment.
4. Create A Catchy Hook - The most memorable part of a song is the hook. Hooks are a vital part of a song. If you have a wack hook, the entire song will be wack. Hooks or choruses are not complicated either. Keep it simple…something your mom, little sister, auntie, homeboy, etc can all repeat and say.
5. Beat Up The Beat Man If The Track Ain’t Hot – No, just kidding. But please pick production tracks that compliment your flow. You do not need the assistance of top super producers to get a hot track. There are plenty of up and coming beatmakers or musicians that will be more than willing to work with you…and they cost less! Just make sure the track is tight and well mastered. You never know when one of your CDs will end up in the hands of a radio disk jockey. The last thing you want is your song to be played for millions of listeners and it’s of pure quality.
6. Ask For Feedback – What better way to validate if you have a hot song or not? Reach out to your family, friends, even strangers on the street for their feedback. Put together a showcase of some sort if you want. The goal, after conducting this little survey, is to gain some insight on how people are jiving to your song. Not everyone will like it. But at least you would have garnered honest opinions. If the majority give it two thumbs down, retreat back to the studio to tweek some things or start from scratch with a new tune.
For those aspiring artists who have no clue, try to practice these tips when creating a hit song. The goal is to produce consistently good music. Before you throw together a wack CD, check your track record. And if you need STACKS Magazine to help gain additional feedback, feel free to send us your music so that we can let our readers preview it!
Ever wondered why you and your music hadn’t quite got off the ground yet! That Retail Chick lays it all out as to why you might be having a hard time.
Here are 10 of her top reasons why artists don’t make it in the music industry:
1. Myspace.com/W T F????
- Myspace started out as a great tool for new artists trying to make a name for themselves in the music industry. But now there needs to be a new rule: All artists that sign up for myspace music must be approved by the Myspace A&R Department! They need one BADLY!
2. “I gotta do a lot of mixtapes so I can be like Wayne!!!”
- Now, let’s do some research. Lil Wayne has been rapping since 1997. And after 9 CD’s, over a dozen HOT mixtapes, and 10+ years in the game he is where he should be. Wayne has laid his ground work. Remind me, what number mixtape were you on??? And why was the last one so whack???
3. “I’m from OHIO and I moved to ATL to break my music because OHIO ain’t feeling me???”
- If you can’t make a name for yourself in your own city, do you really think it will be easier in ATL? If you just moved to Atlanta thinking this is the place to make a name for yourself in the music industry, take a number. Because you just got in line with a slew of other folks that came here to do the same.
4. “I just need to get a distribution deal so I can get these records on the shelf.”
- Records on the shelf at every music retailer in the USA will not equal sales unless you have a GREAT marketing campaign, HUGE promotional budget, and GOOD Music. National distribution is no good without a national marketing campaign. Can you afford that?
5. “I paid DJ (fill in the blank) to host my mixtape and everybody knows him but nobody knows me!”
- It doesn’t matter who you pay to do your mixtape. If the music is whack, it’s whack. And there’s not a DJ in the world that can cosign it and make it sound better.
6. “I paid (fill in the blank) Magazine for a feature story about me & my music.”
- Just make sure that the other artists that were featured in that issue aren’t the only people reading the magazine you just paid!
7.”Artist development…man f–k that, I got SWAG!”
- For all of the artists out there, that have deals, songs on the radio, reality TV shows, or the ones that have no buzz at all; Swag is no good without PERSONALITY and media training is a must! Fans want to see a STAR! And grabbing your pants to hold them up while try to walk or acting stand-off-ish around fans will not work! You may have swag on a record or in a video, but your personality is at Level Zero in person!
8. “Billboard…what’s that?”
- The words Artist & Business are like oil & water, for some reason they just don’t mix. Artist that don’t ask questions or seek information are candidates to be SCREWED! Take a little time and pick up a Billboard magazine. It’s the best $7 bucks you will have spent in a LONG time.
9. “I just signed to this indie label with major distribution!!!!”
- Ok Cool, but do they know what a record label is supposed to do??? I see so many distribution deals that don’t work because the indie label didn’t realize how much of the marketing cost was THEIR responsibility!!!! Don’t blame distribution because your CD didn’t sell…blame the team of people you hired to work at your indie record label.
- Don’t get taken advantage of in this industry. There are hundreds of people out there ready to sell you a dream and take your money whether your music is good or bad. Music in order to be sold has to have what I call the “PRESS PLAY FACTOR.” I will get into what that is a little later.
Funny indeed! But most importantly, TRC’s reasoning is dead on. Hopefully artists will take these bits of advice and re-evaluate their situation.
To read the rest, check out That Retail Chick!
Amidst numerous accounts of low record sales and artists being dropped from their contracts, music labels are making the adjustments to withstand the storm. One of the major music labels doing just that is EMI and they have the financial statements to prove it.
In 2008, EMI saved $72. 1 million in annual spending costs through staff cutbacks, expense reductions, and record sales of their top artists.
“These results were achieved in a physical market that declined aggressively due to structural changes in the global retail environment,” the label stated. Best-sellers on the year came from Katy Perry, Lily Allen, Darius Rucker and Herbert Grönemeyer.
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