I was going to send something for a listing and it said that the submissions must not contain samples or other elements that require clearance. I am sorry but I am not sure I know what that means. Could you please clarify that?

Thanks,Vicki Elliot

Hi Vicki,

"Clearance" means getting the rights (permission) to use material that you don't own

Music supervisors for film and TV productions are required to get clearance from, and usually pay a fee to, the owners of the copyrights (the song) and masters (the recorded version of the song) prior to placing music in a film.

If an artist owns both the song and the recording (as most independent artists do), the clearance process is relatively simple. If an artist is signed to publishing deal and a record label, separate negotiations must take place with both the publisher and the label. This is obviously more complicated (and more expensive) for the supervisor.

By using a sample from another artist's recording, the sampled artist now has to give his or her permission in order for a music supervisor to be able to use the song. This can get mighty complicated, and the sampled artist can easily kill the deal.

Since music supervisors are often in a time crunch, they can't afford to have legal squabbles interfere with the schedule of the show, therefore they often require submissions that contain no samples.

Dear Taxi, It doesn't seem to me that publishing houses looking for staff writers are listed very often. Is there another inside resource or trade publication that deals with this?

Ken Brophy, South Canaan, PA

Hi Ken,

The staff writer thing these days usually depends on how much "pipeline" income you have as a writer. Meaning: if you have gotten your own cuts with artists who are selling records and/or getting airplay then there are royalties already in the "pipeline" to be paid.

This means virtually no risk for the publisher. They will then give you an advance that is relative to the amount of money they expect you to earn in a year. You as a writer get the attention of the publisher, necessary administration of your catalog, including collection of royalties worldwide, and your money a little quicker than you would if you waited for it to come down the pipe.

The days of a publisher hearing someone with talent and, through hard work and persistence, developing that writer into a successful "commodity" are by and large, gone. There are still a few brave souls who might act on talent alone, but most want to see not only a minimum of financial risk in the deal, but also to know that this writer is connected, networked, and persistent enough to make things happen for himself. This is a good sign for future success.

They are always open to hearing writers that meet these criteria, the hard part is getting the credits under your belt.

I should add that there are good publishers (usually smaller companies) who will do single-song deals, and these can be an excellent way to strike up a potentially fruitful relationship as well as to get songs cut.

Another good way to accelerate the process is to co-write with writers who already signed to publishers. That way, you also get to know the publisher, and you get to have them pitching your songs, as well!

To answer your question specifically, I know of no other source that focuses on staff writers. In fact, I know of no other resource that features publishing opportunities as much as TAXI does.

One of the great things about TAXI (if we do say so ourselves) is that it gives you the opportunity to pitch to many of the same projects that publishers themselves are pitching to, and to create exactly the kind of action that creates publisher interest in a new writer.