Answered by: Michael Laskow
Dear TAXI,

Is it necessary for me to wait for confirmation that my copyright registrations have been processed before I make a submission to TAXI?

Dana Jamer

Dear Dana,

You're smart to register all your songs with the copyright office, but you don't really need to wait for the confirmation to come back to you. It takes months, so I'd advise sending your forms in via registered mail, return receipt requested, and that will give you all the proof of date you should need until the confirmation comes back to you.

Good question!


Hello Michael,

1. How do songwriters get money from the Internet?

2. Is there an organization that does the policing for Internet downloads and the collecting of money for the artist?

3. How can an artist protect his/her material from illegal downloading of their material?

John Temple Zarvis

Hi John,

There are legal download sites that pay artists, but many of them still aren't all that friendly to the stand-alone Indie artist. The sites don't want to go through the pain of negotiating thousands of individual deals with each separate artist. They like working with Indie labels because they can do one deal, and get everybody on the label. CDbaby and a few other companies have done some aggregation of Indie artists, and therefore made them more desirable to the music purveyors. I'd start my search there.

I believe that Sound Exchange does collect or police money owed to musicians for performances on the Internet, NOT downloads. Sound Exchange is more like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in that regard. Streaming and downloading are two separate animals, very analogous to the Harry Fox Agency and the P.R.O.s in the mechanical and performance arenas of the "old" music industry.

And finally, the only way I know to absolutely protect yourself from illegal downloads is to never let ANYBODY have a copy of your music. Impractical, to say the least. It's a new age, and while I despise illegal downloads, I also see the value they have in promoting an artist. Somebody is always going to steal music given the technology to do so. Your job is to find a way to get the honest people who are your true market to BUY your music. And the best way to do that is to produce music that has tremendous value to them, and make it easier to buy it than steal it. That's YOUR job, so get busy. :-)


Dear Michael,

I read your recent statement about the rise of the Indies as the major labels lose their power, but I didn't really understand how this will affect me if I'm an independent artist putting out my own CD. Can you please elaborate for all of us Indie artists out here?

Johnny Connis

Dear Johnny,

So many people are talking about how the majors are going to die and the Indies will experience a revolution of sorts. I agree that the major labels are in trouble, mostly due to illegal downloading and their lack of willingness to look at what consumers really want, and how to give it to them. But I see a major rub for true Indie artists.

The Indie revolution everybody keeps talking about is really about Indie labels, not individual Indie artists. It's true that the total sales of all the Indie labels represents significant sales numbers that rival what the majors sell, but that is Indie labels—labels being the operative word here.

And while the Internet shows great promise in helping those niche labels expand their reach to larger audiences, much of that will be due to the fact that those labels also have the money, man power, and marketing expertise that an individual, independent artist can't afford.

Remember and its "revolution"? Everybody thought it would change their lives, but it didn't. Artists found that they were lost in the sauce of the other 265,000 other artists on the site, and now there are literally hundreds of sites like out there. With very few exceptions, the buying public will only be able to find you if you have the marketing budget and expertise to break through the clutter. It can be done guerilla style, but you'll need to work your butt off.

My advice? Start learning everything you can about marketing yourself as an artist. Songwriters—I don't yet know how this is going to affect you. Stay tuned.


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