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May 14, 2006

Comments

Steve Williams

I think Magnatune and this blog are extremely important. This entry is a perfect example.

I was very demoralized this morning when I read of the RIAA's latest attack on our culture:

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004679.php

So I was especially grateful for your contribution of a little rationality. I had put off reading it for a few days. I'm glad I saved it for today, when I needed it.

Thanks for being there!

Jon

Hi Mr. Buckman,

You are presenting some serious inaccuracies in your portrayal of music publishers. Let's start with this glaring error:

"this is REALLY IMPORTANT: if your music has publishing royalties collected (ie, played in a film/tv) only 1/2 the money will be paid to the ASCAP/BMI musician member, with the other 1/2 held unpaid if there is no publisher registered for the song."

Quickly, (as you have already corrected this) there are no royalties payable on film performances in the United States. More importantly, your claim that only half the performance money will be paid to the "musician member" (writer) without a registered publisher is simply wrong. When registering a work with either ASCAP or BMI, one can select "excess writer clearance" which will send the full 200% (100% publisher's share and 100% writer's share) of royalty payments directly to the writer. It is extremely irresponsible to suggest otherwise, not only because it is false information, but because setting up a publishing company is just that - setting up a company - and requires significantly more time, and can be considerably more expensive depending on your P.R.O. It is NOT a matter of simply filling out a few forms.

Second, it is ludicrous to suggest that a publisher simply fills out paperwork when a license is needed for a film. A good publisher's job is actually to find those opportunities in film and television, in addition to finding artists to perform material written by the writer, in addition to properly handling license requests. If a record company puts out your album, you are entitled to mechanical royalties for each album distributed. Who is going to deal with the accounting issues? The artist? Or the artist's publisher?

Finally, you claim that publishers do no marketing. Are you suggesting that all these film and tv placements, song covers, etc. have nothing to do with publishers? Wrong. In order for a publisher to get these "great checks" they have an incentive to promote the artist's catalogue. In the case of a publisher who owns classic hits from years and years ago, I agree with you, but to claim that publishers do not promote their catalogues is just silly.

Finally, there are a number of publishing "administrators" (you being one) who do a lot of the work of a publisher without actually owning the publishing rights. (another issue - the publisher's share of the royalty isn't the "song-writing right" it's simply the publisher's share. The song-writing right is known as the writer's share.) Your company would fall under the category of publishing administrator, as well as record label, since you are facilitating royalty-generating licenses with film, tv, and commercials. As such it is important not only that you present accurate information regarding publishing and performing rights organizations, but that you work with both your artists and licensees to ensure that songs are registered properly and that cue sheets are properly prepared and submitted.

The fact that you choose not to participate in the revenues associated with copyright exploitation is fine; and the concept behind Magnatune is good, however, it makes no sense to simply demonize the music publishing industry as a whole.

I'm writing because I am working on a publishing administration company and thought I should chime in and correct a few things...

thank you

Jon

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