By Michael Laskow
Question from Gary Shore.

Gary writes: "What are the legal issues involved with people in the industry not accepting unsolicited demos?"


Hi Gary:

There are basically two issues at hand here, the first being legal.

If a company accepts a demo directly from an unknown artist or entity and that artist or songwriter later sues them for copyright infringement, they've got no 3rd party to say that they did or did not receive that demo. An important part of a copyright infringement suit is the plaintiff being able to show that the defendant actually did have access to the song or songs in question. That's why most companies prefer to get their demos through music attorneys, publishers, managers, and of course TAXI, so there's a 3rd party that can act as a witness, should that ever be necessary.

The second reason is that A&R people at major labels don't have the time necessary to listen to the tons of unsolicited material. Think about it, if an A&R person got just 50 songs (not to mention albums) per day and they spent just 5 minutes on each song that would be more than 4 hours per day of listening, not to mention the 50 phone calls per day the A&R person would have to make to the people who have submitted.

Each one of those people would want a 15 minute explanation as to why they weren't accepted and what they could do to improve their chances next time and that would require 750 minutes or 12.5 hours per day. As you can see, that would leave them no time to take care of the acts that they've already signed which includes a walk through the process of picking their songs, selecting their producer, engineer, studio, session players, etc.

Thirteen years ago, I took a hard look at this process and realized there was a huge need for a 3rd party company that could make it easier for the labels to find the very best of what was out there on the street, thus creating a vehicle for the average person to get heard if their music was great and on target for what the company was looking for. I hope this answer helps.

Michael



Question from TAXI member, Pete Lampron

Pete asks, "A common theme I find is that my submission is not close enough to what the listing is asking for. Is it possible that when a reviewer spends time reviewing a song he or she thinks it's excellent but not right for the listing , they could suggest some listings that might be the type he or she would expect to receive that submission for?"


Dear Pete:

Good question. Something that we don't advertise in our brochure, or talk about all that openly, is that the screeners do have permission to take a song that they think is excellent, but not right for the listing they are currently working on, and shove it over to another listing.

That being said, it doesn't happen very often, and here's why: The person screening listing "A" would have also had to recently been screening listing "B" and know what that listing was looking for. Listing "B" would also still need to be an open listing, meaning that we still have a day or two left on the deadline. As you can see, several stars have to line up for this to happen.

Let me pose a question to you. Do you think Diane Warren or any other pro songwriter would have this same problem? Obviously, that was a rhetorical question and we both know that the pros know which song to pitch and to whom. Now I realize that the majority of our members aren't yet pro, but knowing what to pitch to whom is one of the most basic and important parts in becoming successful as a songwriter.

So many of our members seem to not take the time to get familiar with the targets that we put under their noses. It's so easy to do, that we sit around scratching our heads and wondering why more of our members don't take a minute to go to Amazon.com or hundreds of other sites and click on sound clips that are free and can tell them everything they need to know about an artist in a very short amount of time.

I hope many of our members read this and take this advise to heart because there is nothing we'd like more than to see our members be more accurate in their pitches so they can ultimately land more deals.

Thanks,
Michael



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