SOCAN Tariff 22.A (Copyright Board of Canada)

This new Tariff was petitioned by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), successfully, before the Copyright Board of Canada. The Board recently released its decision on October 18, 2007. The decision dealing with Online Music Services can be found here in PDF format and is rather long, but here’s the gist:

  • Online music retailers will now be subject to the new tariff on downloaded music files.
    The new tariff allows SOCAN to collect 3.1 per cent on the sale of each song downloaded from online commercial music sites like Apple’s iTunes Music Store or the Canadian service Puretracks.

Personally, I use Zunior

Now, if I could only get published and sell a song, then maybe these downloads would translate into some cash in my pocket… Dare to dream…

Michael Anthony, Bassist, Removed From Van Halen Songwriting Credits

The Pulse of Radio (formerly Launch Radio Networks) reports: VAN HALEN may have restored former bassist Michael Anthony‘s photos to the album cover art on the band’s official web site, but it seems the group is still trying to remove Anthony from its history. According to AntiMusic.comAnthony‘s name has been taken off the writing credits for some of the group’s music.

An email to the site from a VAN HALEN fan explained, “On every single VAN HALEN song (with exception to the three new songs on the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ compilation), credits have always gone to Eddie Van HalenAlex Van HalenMichael Anthony and the lead singer who is featured on the song…However, during the credits of the film ‘Superbad’, which features the song ‘Panama’, the song is only credited to the two Van Halens and (David LeeRothAnthony continues to get snubbed by his former band as they attempt to erase him from the history of the band.”

AntiMusic checked the ASCAP database and learned that Anthony‘s name has been removed from the songwriting credits of the album 1984, on which “Panama” originally appeared, although apparently he still gets credit on other VAN HALEN releases.

Anthony was reportedly forced to sign a reduced royalty contract in order to take part in the 2004 reunion tour with singer Sammy Hagar, according to Wikipedia.orgAnthony also apparently did not play on the three songs recorded for the “Best of Both Worlds” collection.

Singer-Songwriters or just Singers?

Girlfriend Power for Avril, Chantal | E! News

Singer-songwriters, or just singers? – Yahoo! News

Singer-songwriters, or just singers?

By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP Music WriterMon Jul 23, 4:35 PM ET

Of all the names in music, Chantal Kreviazuk may be the least likely to appear in a headline. Though she recently released her own album, the songwriter usually stays behind the scenes to pen hits with artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne.

But earlier this month, Kreviazuk rocked the pop music world by suggesting that Lavigne was a collaborator in name only. Although she quickly retracted her comments and others defended Lavigne, the flap illuminated a long-standing fraud that has become more prevalent than ever: “singer-songwriters” who do much less songwriting than their publicists would have you believe.

“It’s crazy!” exclaimed Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren, who has written for artists such as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mary J. Blige. “How can someone look in the mirror and know they didn’t do something and their name is on it? For money? For credit? It’s a lie.”

This being the music industry, money is of course a factor, since the writers of hit songs can earn more than the singer over the long term. But today’s singers also press for writing credit because it gives them more of a cachet, presenting them as more of a “real artist” in comparison with a star who doesn’t write a note.

“It’s a practice that’s been going on but now it’s really prevalent in every situation,” says songwriter Adonis Shropshire, who helped pen the hit “My Boo” for Alicia Keys and Usher, and has worked with Chris Brown, Ciara and others.

Shropshire says that many artists will only allow songwriters to work on an album in return for song credit, and “if they do write, they ask for more publishing than they honestly contributed … it is the way it is.”

The practice has been prevalent for decades. Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, maneuvered to give the King songwriting credits on early hits like “Love Me Tender” even though he never wrote a word. James Brown was sued by an associate over song credits. Lauryn Hill settled a lawsuit by a group that claimed she improperly took sole production and writing credit on her Grammy-winning album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” And Diddy seemed to acknowledge claims that he wasn’t really writing his raps in the “Bad Boys for Life” song with the brushoff line: “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks!”

The notion that serious artists have to write their own songs seems to have grown over the past two decades. Today, even the fluffiest of pop acts is credited as having written their own material.

“We as an industry … don’t look at someone who has an incredible voice as an artist, whereas having an incredible voice is artistry,” says Jody Gerson, an executive vice president of EMI Music Publishing. “I think people place more of a value on an artist if they write their own songs, it gives them credibility.”

Indeed, Lavigne’s songwriting abilities have been touted since she broke out as a teen with the hit “Complicated.” But how much she contributed to her music has long been scrutinized.

On her first album, Lavigne worked with the writing trio The Matrix, but ditched them on her second album when she felt they were taking too much credit for the songs. “I am a writer, and I won’t accept people trying to take that away from me, and anyone who does is ignorant and doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” she defiantly told The Associated Press in 2004.

She connected with Kreviazuk for her sophomore album and the two became close friends. Kreviazuk lauded her songwriting ability in an interview with The AP, also in 2004 — which made Kreviazuk’s comments to Performing Songwriting Magazine all the more curious.

“I mean, Avril, songwriter? Avril doesn’t really sit and write songs by herself or anything. Avril will also cross the ethical line, and no one says anything,” Kreviazuk — who was not included on Lavigne’s latest album — told the magazine before retracting her statement. The Matrix later came out to defend Lavigne’s songwriting integrity.

Grammy-winning songwriter Dallas Austin says he’s had a manager rave about a song Austin wrote all by himself, and then tell him, “We wanna know if we can get a piece of the pie on it because (the artist) wants to feel like she has a part ownership on the song.

“And I’ll say, ‘In all fairness, no. … If you want to work with me at least sit here and put something into it, instead of coming after I’ve done everything and try and claim percentages on it.'”

Gerson calls the practice unfair but says it’s “pretty prevalent in pop and R&B … I think the way people now divide publishing splits is who was in the room. ‘OK … I changed the word “the” to “a,” and I deserve 10 percent of the publishing.'”

Sean Garrett, who has created smashes for Beyonce, Kelis, Fergie and others, says he gave up credit when he was just starting out, which is common for newcomers. “It bothered me but I knew it was just a price that I had to pay to continue my career and stay focused with the big prize,” he says.

Ne-Yo, a true singer-songwriter who co-wrote Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” says early in his career he had to deal with the same thing. He says some artists feel they are doing a novice a favor by recording their song — especially if it becomes a hit — so they deserve a piece of the royalties.

“If you’re an unknown songwriter and you are lucky enough to get on a superstar’s album and you know that the song is going to be a single,” Ne-Yo says, “and it means if it becomes No. 1 everyone is going to know your name because you wrote it, I think it’s worth giving up a piece of publishing … you are going to make your money back.”

Shropshire recalls working with an A-list singer, whom he did not want to name, who wrote two words on a song and ended up getting a large piece of the publishing rights. But he couldn’t complain when the song became a hit.

“It didn’t really bother me that much. The song came out and it did wonderfully well,” he says. “That’s just the way the industry works.”

That shouldn’t be the case, says Warren. Although she had credit taken from her early in her career, she quickly put a stop to it. Later, one major superstar demanded some of Warren’s royalties for the privilege of said superstar recording her song. But Warren refused.

“It’s like, ‘OK, you want some publishing? OK then, give me a piece of the money you’re making touring for the next five years for the hit I just wrote you.”

But now that songwriters like Warren, Garrett and Ne-Yo are established, they rarely find themselves taken advantage of any more.

“I give other people credit where credit is due, like Beyonce really did vocally arrange (‘Irreplaceable’),” Ne-Yo says. “So for someone to come in and take my credit because they are who they are? That doesn’t work for me. I don’t care who you are. … I’m not going to give you something you don’t deserve.”

Role of a Music Publisher – Article

There’s a nice article in the latest edition of Words & Music put out by SOCAN that’s entitled: The Role of a Music Publisher – A new skills study reveals the complexities of the business.

There’s a reference in the article, which discusses the Canadian Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) survey of publishers’ duties and talents, both with respect to signed artists, and in the self-publishing arena. The CHRC site is a nice resource for someone looking to make a career in the arts…

A Publishing Primer and an Open Mic

Just thought I’d set up a couple of links of interest. One is on the main reason I set up this blog, to become a published songwriter. There’s a link to an article that appeared in Songwriters Magazine put out by SAC. The article is a Publishing Primer for songwriters – some of the legal issues to look out for… Very interesting and I hope I have to worry about some of these issues one day…

The second is an Open Mic night sponsored by FACTOR at the Cameron House in Toronto. The next open mic night is Tuesday, April 17/07. I won’t be going to that one, but I will be keeping an eye for when the next one might be… It’s nice that the etiquette for the open mic is put right in FACTOR’s link to it, that way you know what to expect…

Links – ALAS and Playoke

Thought I’d just post a couple of links I’ve found for any local songwriters (in the GTA) who may be interested:

  • Artist’s Legal Advice Program – exactly what it sounds like… and as described in their intro web page, they are a collection of volunteers established “…to help provide advice to those who may not be able to access more expensive alternatives. ALAS serves as an excellent first-step for creators wishing to understand their legal rights or deal with specific problems but who are unsure how to proceed. Appointments consist of 30-minute meetings in which a lawyer will listen to your concerns and provide advice for solving your legal problems.”
  • – not really sure how to describe this one, so I’ll let the Canadian Musician magazine do it in this article. Basically, it’s a marketplace for original songs… but I’m not sure who’d be buying. I joined up, but I still haven’t been able to place a song in the Song Mart (even though the site is giving away free Gold Memberships at this time…). But the info is here for you…

Ci vedimes…

DIY Publishing Links

Well, I’m following up on some recent articles I’ve come across. One, out of the Globe & Mail, that I can’t seem to link to, discussed the SellaBand concept. It’s very interesting and to read more about it check out the “How it works” link on the main page. Basically, you post some demos on an artist’s page, see if you can sell enough “shares” in a CD project from the site’s “Believers”, and then get a chance to produce a professional quality CD of your music.

The other site involves the digital world and publishing (which, I guess, is my main focus over actually performing), but also finished CD’s for music (or, very cool, bound books if you’re a novelist, for example). Check that out at Lulu. You retain all the rights to the music you post and Lulu gets 20% of any sales (you keep 80%). But who will buy my wonderful tunes…

Ci vedimes…

The Golden Seals (Dave Merritt)

Email from my a buddy of mine from law school (Dave Merritt) about how to get published:

“Getting “published” is well-nigh impossible–most labels or publishing houses have in-house writers that do all of their songwriting for the borderline-talentless clowns who don’t write their own stuff. They don’t solicit songs, so getting your song covered/published/recorded by someone else is almost impossible. Having said that, you could register to become a member of SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers), who will register your works and distribute performance royalties. BUT, it’s a double bind, as in order to become a member, your works need to be performed either in public or on the radio, or appear on a recording. So…screw all that. The important thing is that you love doing it, and that you keep writing and singing. It’s a blast. You could finish a full length, get 100 cds done, and get a website or a myspace site, and then likely get into SOCAN that way.”

Dave’s a great singer/songwriter/musician in the Ottawa area. You can catch his band, The Golden Seals, on the web here and buy his songs at Zunior.

This is going to be a long road…