Answered by: Michael Laskow
I'm a songwriter. I don't have a band and don't perform my stuff live. When I submit songs for placement, am I correct in the belief that the critique of the song is a lot tougher for the songwriter than for a band?

The reason being, when a band submits its material a lot of other factors are being considered: the band's look, maybe their live shows are amazing, they have a huge local following, etc. They have really good songs, but their overall appeal can be attributed to many other things.

Conversely, a songwriter's submissions are listened to much more objectively. They need to be great. Period. There aren't any other factors to consider other than the song itself. And the labels/production companies want undeniable hits (and rightly so).

I arrived at this conclusion after hearing a song on the radio (and reading many TAXI articles), which I thought was good but wouldn't necessarily pass a TAXI listing criteria for a "song submission." It didn't have classic song structure or a huge, instantly memorable hook, but it was by The White Stripes. Can't mess with them!

Are the songs under song-only submissions under tougher scrutiny than the songs under artist submissions?


Thank guys!
Ron Gatty


Hi Ron,

I will admit that an artist or band that has a huge following and has sold 10,000 CDs on their own might get signed based somewhat on that success, but their label will still WISH they had great songs. Often times, a band has ONE great song, and those other things going for it, then becomes a one-hit wonder. Why? They only had one hit!

And it's true that a band with a lot going on and NO hits can GET hits from some great writers, but the labels will almost always sign the band that has its own hits before they'll sign one without.

The bottom line is that it's always about the song, and an undeniable hit is exactly what you want and need. If I were going to sell TAXI and work on getting myself signed (chuckle), I'd work 15 hours per day on my songwriting, and take no prisoners in the process. Write hits my friend... write hits.

All the best,

Michael



If I write a song and someone produces the music behind it, how are the royalties paid, and where do publishing rights come in? Thanks.

Willie

Hi Willie,

I'm not sure if you mean that you've written the music and someone else is producing it, or that you meant that you wrote the lyrics and they wrote the music.

If you actually wrote both the music and the lyrics, and they just produced it, then you own all the publishing. If they substantially contributed chord progressions and melody (and you only wrote the lyrics), then they are your co-writer and automatically own half the publishing and their name should be on the copyright.

If they didn't write anything substantial, but produced the track, then you should have worked out the terms prior to going into the studio with them. You should have determined if it was a work-for-hire situation with no back end, or if they worked with no upfront compensation but get production points (typically 2 to 3%) on the back end. It's also not uncommon for a producer to get an advance upfront, and participation in the back end as well. There are many great books that cover these issues, and I strongly recommend to all of our readers that you take the time to read them and figure out your deals BEFORE you go into the studio. By not doing so, you are only setting yourself up for major problems down the road.

Michael



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