Answered by: Michael Laskow
Hello Michael,

I read with interest your e-mails on placing songs in TV/film etc., and have had a couple of songs forwarded by TAXI as well. My question to you is about what happens if these companies want to use my songs? One of the listings I got forwarded in said the company offered a fair five-year reversion clause. As I have only been able to afford a few professional demos (despite having written hundreds of songs), I'm a little fearful about giving up the rights to those songs for five years! I had planned to contact a lawyer if approached by one of these companies, but you have said that many don't fully understand these clauses.

Therefore, can you provide some more information on what a reversion clause is? What an exclusive deal means? Am I giving up the right to use my songs for a period of time? Is my use limited and if so, how? (e.g. Can I enter contests, can I perform my material, can another artist record my songs?)


Thanks for your advice.
Adrienne Leopold


Hi Adrienne,

I've edited your letter for length, but here are some of the answers you requested.

A reversion clause simply means that if they don't get your song cut, placed or used during the five-year period, then all rights revert back to you. Exclusivity means that you can't sign a deal for that song with any other publisher. You could still put the song on an album of your own, and if you sell a million copies, you (if you're your own label) or the label you sign with would pay the publisher the statutory rate to put that song on the album.

When other artists license your songs, the publisher would get paid on that use, and so would you as the writer or co-publisher, depending on the deal you strike. As to your ability to enter your song in a contest if it's published would be up to the contest rules for each individual contest.

There are so many great books on this subject that I'm surprised you haven't read any of them yet. Start with Todd and Jeff Brabec's book Music, Money, and Success. It explains all of this stuff in great detail.

Warm regards,

Michael



Dear TAXI,

I've been a member for over five years now and the feedback I receive from TAXI is invaluable. In fact, I think it is a major tool for honing my craft. Nevertheless, some critiques I've received lately have me confused. I've had reviewers return Country listing submissions telling me that I should include a bridge to make it "more radio friendly." I re-write and submit the same song and another reviewer tells me that bridges aren't radio friendly in Country format. This feedback puts me between a rock and a hard place. I recognize that each reviewer has his or her own opinion and that the song may not have been appropriate for a certain listing, but this is not about opinion or appropriateness of listings. This is about TAXI's industry experts in their genres not having agreements on what constitutes A STANDARD in their particular area of expertise. If I'm to count on TAXI being a resource to further hone my craft as a writer, I would expect consistency in feedback on how to improve my writing. In spending both time and money on TAXI membership I expect that the feedback on songs has consistent standards within a given genre.


Lance McCollum

Hi Lance,

I've handed off your letter to one of my A&R staffers to begin researching. But the only way I could really comment on your predicament would be to see the actual critique sheets.

Lo and behold, my staffer just came back in the room, and I think I've got the answer for you already. You've been a member for about five years (thank you), and you've only made a few submissions. I'm guessing that the critiques that said bridges aren't cool was done years ago by one of our earliest Country screeners who was a very traditional person—he loved songs that were "stone" Country. At the time, there were still plenty of people in the Country music business who disliked bridges. He was one of them.

Times and styles have changed, and bridges are "in" now. I'm also guessing that the critique you got that said the song could use a bridge was more recent.

To cap all this off, these are just opinions... they are expert opinions, but experts are human, and their worldview is their own. To have two different people that have differing opinions about whether or not bridges should be in Country songs doesn't blow my mind.

I can understand why it might confuse you, but I know the solution—look for consensus. If you've got three out of five screeners telling you the same thing, it's probably worth consideration.

Thanks,

Michael



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