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Thread: How do you interpret publishing credits in CD liner notes?

  1. #1
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    Question How do you interpret publishing credits in CD liner notes?

    Hey everyone. I have a question about music publishing.

    All CD liner notes contain publishing credits.

    The following is an example.

    Publishing for one particular song-

    "Martin Johnson Publishing LLC (ASCAP) admin. by Almo Music Corp./Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI), o/b/o itself and Anaesthetic Publishing (SOCAN) / 3 Weddings Music (BMI), all rights administered by Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing / PS Publishing / Where Da Kasz At? (BMI), all rights administered by Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing / MXM Music AB (ASCAP), all rights administered by Kobalt Songs Music Publishing / J Kasher Publishing / Prescription Songs (ASCAP), all rights administered by Kobalt Songs Music Publishing / Sony / ATV Tunes LLC / Kevinthecity Publishing / J Kasher Music (ASCAP)"

    What do all these names indicate?

    What's with all the forward slashes?

    What is the meaning behind all the acronyms within the parentheses?

    How can you explain the "administered by" verbiage?

    And why are there so many publishing credits for just one song?

    Thanks everyone.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    What do all these names indicate?
    You didn't say anything about the writing credits. Presumably, the song was written by several co-writers, all of whom had publishing deals (or self-pulbished). Sometimes deals are co-published between several publishers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    What's with all the forward slashes?
    No meaning. It's just how everything was differentiated on that record sleeve instead of separate lines for each publisher.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    What is the meaning behind all the acronyms within the parentheses?
    ASCAP, BMI and SOCAN are performance rights societies that collect performance royalties on behalf of the songwriters and publishers. ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. BMI is Broadcast Music Inc. SOCAN is the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers Canada. There's another one called SESAC that is becoming increasingly popular among artists, however, unlike the others you have to be voted in based on work you submit. IMHO, SESAC is the one to join, but that's just me.

    Membership in these societies by rights holders - i.e., songwriters, publishers, lyricists - is how they collect their airplay and certain other royalties. The societies each have a deal with the broadcasters and are able to track the airplay of music (including commercials). After everything is tracked during a calendar quarter, the money from the broadcast deals is divided pro rata among the members of the societies depending on the frequency and location of airplay on terrestrial radio, TV, cable, etc. The percentages vary as well, with network TV paying far more than cable, and there are different rates for songs, commercials, and other background music, say in a radio show that has background bumpers.

    Songwriters and Lyricists can only belong to one society at a time, so a publisher will often have several different publishing companies so that they can publish the work of the writers of each society. (the societies want the publisher and writer to match). So you'll see something like EMI Music Publishing (ASCAP), EMI Music Publishing (SESAC), EMI Music Publishing (BMI), etc.

    For a very long time, the rights societies actually employed people to sit and listen to the radio or watch TV and keep manual track of this stuff, but now it's done digitally. In the case of airplay of movies or TV, the broadcasters file cue sheets for all the background music or songs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    How can you explain the "administered by" verbiage?
    Publishers are often the artists themselves. It's extremely difficult for touring and other artists to actually handle the business end of their publishing. However, record companies also need to have contact people to handle licensing requests, etc, for things like TV synchronization use, movies, commercials, and so on. In addition, the mergers and acquisitions in the industry over the past couple of decades have truly shuffled the "who publishes what" deck. So some publishers hire publishing administrators to do all that inventory and tracking of their rights.

    There are times when several publishers are involved in the licensing of one song, and coordination can be very difficult. The administrators know how to handle it quickly, and yet it can still take several weeks to line up a licensing deal, because believe it or not, this stuff gets very, very busy!

    I've been involved in several licensing deals where writers or publishers literally had to be tracked down in remote areas, and flown to meetings to sign off on a deal! One involved publishers in three countries. So...that's what no doubt makes publishing administration somewhat complicated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post
    And why are there so many publishing credits for just one song?
    See my first answer. Several writers, each retaining his or her own publishing, or co-publishing. Deals between labels, especially acquisition deals where one label acquires the assets of another, complicate things.

    Listing all this stuff answers for the world a few important questions:

    1. Who are the rights holders, if a music license needs to be cleared?

    2. Who needs to be contacted in order to use the song for a non-compulsory license?

    3. Which performance rights society will be collecting royalties on behalf of the songwriter and publisher?

    Etc.

    In addition to all this, it lays out the copyright to the work, so that in case of a copyright infringement claim, the parties involved can prove their prior claim to the work.

    All of this information is very, very important to the artist, the publisher, and the label, and in the case of hit records, it means millions of dollars. Mechanical royalties from record sales are only a part of the picture when it comes to earning money in the music business.

    People rarely understand that copyrights were incorporated into the 1787 US Constitution, they are not a creature of the modern electronic era. And copyrights confer exclusive rights on their rights holders. The co-participation of publishers, administrators, creators, rights societies and broadcasters is what makes radio and TV airplay of music possible. And synchronization rights for things like TV, movies, videos, etc., are not covered under mechanical rights like making records.

    Unlike certain aspects of the internet, where people get music without paying for it, the rights holders in the broadcast world can actually profit from their creative output and respective rights.

    I hope this helps.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-20-2014 at 10:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jericho-79 View Post

    What do all these names indicate?
    The number of people that have fingers in the pie. If you wonder how you can have a hit and still go broke, there it is.....

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    Angry Southern Gentleman Hopeful Sinner's Avatar
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    Les, you have a lotta knowledge stored in that noggin of yours... You should write a book!!!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Dancing Frog View Post
    The number of people that have fingers in the pie. If you wonder how you can have a hit and still go broke, there it is.....
    Horsefeathers!

    For the most part, today artists retain their own publishing rights. And that's why you see such a proliferation of names on the CDs. In the old days, everything was owned by the label. In fact, the major labels aren't even asking for publishing any more when they negotiate, and if they do, it's often a throwaway issue. The administration things you see are mostly about what I discussed earlier - artists don't have the time or ability to administer their catalogs. So they will have administrators. In some cases, where there are co-publishing deals, both parties will have administrators. These all have to be listed.

    However, some publishers front money to writers and artists, to develop them. A good publisher also has sales reps marketing the work to other artists, and for TV, movies and commercials. My publisher and partner company, North Star Media, that is a very small company, has reps in LA, Nashville, Detroit, NY, etc. They are making sales on behalf of their artists and the artists are very happy with their deals.

    If the publisher develops the artists, and takes a percentage for actually going out and selling their work, please tell me what the problem is? If you write music and can't sell it, you have 100% of nothing. It's useless to you without having it published. And I guarantee that most artists do not, and never will, have the time, experience, and contacts to go sell their work.

    Note also that regardless of who owns the publishing, one half of the royalties paid by ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc., are required to go to the songwriters, and cannot be assigned to the publishers. So if your hit record gets substantial airplay, you get tons of money in royalties. If you don't spend it wisely, that's how you go broke! Enjoy that big-time lifestyle while you can, because it doesn't last forever.

    Understand, also, that the writer's royalties get paid to content creators, and except for satellite play, not to the other folks in the band. This is about copyright ownership, not being a rock star.

    So while this may have been true way back when in the case of certain unscrupulous labels (many of which no longer exist) it's really no longer the case. Also you should be aware that California law prohibits certain contract lengths that used to tie people up forever. This has had a substantial effect on how everyone operates, because so many recording artists live there.

    This isn't to say that labels aren't occasionally pissy with their artists, and that they don't cause all kinds of other problems, because they certainly do. However a lot of this has to do with outrageous studio expenses, artists not meeting deadlines, and tours that lose money. And some of it has to do with the label taking for granted an artist that is making them millions - which I'm totally opposed to.

    The fact that labels no longer are patient enough to develop an artist's career, and that they sign too many artists, throw them against the ceiling to see what sticks, etc., is nuts. So they're still making mistakes.

    But what you're talking about...no.

    Though I am all about the artist's rights - after all, I write music for a living and I earn an income from royalties, including my publishing - I try to be even-handed, and I can't waste brain cells on urban legends from the 70s. Reality is just not like these myths any more.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-21-2014 at 11:24 AM.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Hopeful Sinner View Post
    Les, you have a lotta knowledge stored in that noggin of yours... You should write a book!!!
    Thanks, but there are folks who know much more than I do. I don't consider myself expert enough to write a book.

    I've been fortunate to be in the music business for nearly 25 years, and as a result, I've picked up a lot of information, but it's by no means comprehensive. Before I got into the music business, I was a practicing lawyer, but didn't work in the entertainment field. Gradually, I was forced to learn what I learned, but I know my limitations.

    I've been honored to be a guest lecturer on music rights issues (especially synchronization rights) at the University of Michigan School of Music, and at Cooley Law School, so I do try to get the information out there.

    It's always fun to put people to sleep with my droning on and on about this stuff.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
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    Thank you for clearing that up, Les. I had a course in music law and had forgotten a lot apparently.

    I had been watching Artifact which documents the struggles that 30 Seconds to Mars had with EMI. They basically tried to sue under the clause in California law that limits contracts to eight years, and got sued for breach to the tune of 30 million dollars. In the end, they wound up signing back up with EMI to make the lawsuit go away on better terms.

    They also talked about these new "360" deals where the record companies take pieces of merchandizing and ticket sales. They were presented pretty negatively in the documentary. What have you heard about them?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Dancing Frog View Post
    Thank you for clearing that up, Les. I had a course in music law and had forgotten a lot apparently.

    I had been watching Artifact which documents the struggles that 30 Seconds to Mars had with EMI. They basically tried to sue under the clause in California law that limits contracts to eight years, and got sued for breach to the tune of 30 million dollars. In the end, they wound up signing back up with EMI to make the lawsuit go away on better terms.

    They also talked about these new "360" deals where the record companies take pieces of merchandizing and ticket sales. They were presented pretty negatively in the documentary. What have you heard about them?
    Interesting that you mention Artifact!

    Check out the credits for that movie -- my son Jamie was the Music Supervisor for Artifact, as well as the recording engineer on 30STM's subsequent album, 'Love Lust Faith & Dreams.' In fact, he's briefly in the movie, because he started out as an assistant engineer on their album 'This Is War' while they were filming it.



    This is one of the situations where the label was stupid and idiotic. But it wasn't about the publishing.

    Here's a shot of Jamie on tour with the band in London this past summer; he performed with them as well. He's on the right with the curly hair:

    And doing a radio show with the band in Finland:

    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-21-2014 at 04:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dancing Frog View Post
    They also talked about these new "360" deals where the record companies take pieces of merchandizing and ticket sales.
    I've had labels take a percentage of merch before but never ticket sales.. Not too sure I'd be pleased about that. But I have also worked for some bands that have had production deals that required them to pay a percentage from all their revenue to the label, but they were more like "puppet" acts that were assembled by them in the first place.

    I have to keep an eye open for that 30STM movie.

  10. #10
    A 360 deal generally involves a substantial advance. Or it should if it's properly handled.

    Here's the problem: the labels aren't coining money. The business has changed. Yet they are obligated to spend money when they release an album, and that costs. Radio promotion alone for a record for a single major market like NYC can cost upwards of $200,000, for example. Now think about how many major markets there are in the US, and you can see that they don't know whether to...um...poop or go blind.

    So they're looking for ways to recoup their investment.

    I think the biggest problem with the labels is that they are so worried about the short term, that they're no longer doing much to develop their roster of talent. And that's a shame, because in the long run, it costs them when they simply abandon an artist and hop the train to the "next big thing."

    But that's just my perspective.

    We, the public, are rather fickle, too.

    Over 95% of acts signed by the major labels sell fewer than 3,000 records. It's a great way to lose your rear end! But they perceive their record buying public as so addicted to something new that they stop promoting what they have that is actually capable of doing well.

    Sigh. I'm no apologist for the labels. But something's gotta give.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-21-2014 at 05:57 PM.
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    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    A 360 deal generally involves a substantial advance. Or it should if it's properly handled.
    OMG! Never take the advance!!! I had to build drum risers for Pigface one summer because of "recouping".

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    OMG! Never take the advance!!! I had to build drum risers for Pigface one summer because of "recouping".
    Depends on the advance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Over 95% of acts signed by the major labels sell fewer than 3,000 records. It's a great way to lose your rear end! But they perceive their record buying public as so addicted to something new that they stop promoting what they have that is actually capable of doing well.
    A band we shared the stage with several times here in Phoenix went to a major, Virgin to be precise. They had an album out with a local record company, did some touring, sounded great, had a following. Virgin signs them, and in two weeks they're playing the warped tour "generating buzz" and getting tight to record. Great! We're all stoked for them. Virgin sends them to the studio afterward, they had an album's worth of music ready to go. After a month in the studio, Virgin rejects the album - they throw it in the trash (this is what they were playing live when they got signed!). Virgin says, write and record another album, which they did. The band isn't as happy with the second record. They hadn't played live in over a year by the time Virgin puts out the second record. It sells 1500 copies in two weeks. Virgin drops the band - spending over $1 million to record two albums and gave it a whopping two weeks to sell before dropping the band.

    It's my favorite major label story.
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    Defender of the Universe HANGAR18's Avatar
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    This is a really educational thread. Great stuff!
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    A band we shared the stage with several times here in Phoenix went to a major, Virgin to be precise. They had an album out with a local record company, did some touring, sounded great, had a following. Virgin signs them, and in two weeks they're playing the warped tour "generating buzz" and getting tight to record. Great! We're all stoked for them. Virgin sends them to the studio afterward, they had an album's worth of music ready to go. After a month in the studio, Virgin rejects the album - they throw it in the trash (this is what they were playing live when they got signed!). Virgin says, write and record another album, which they did. The band isn't as happy with the second record. They hadn't played live in over a year by the time Virgin puts out the second record. It sells 1500 copies in two weeks. Virgin drops the band - spending over $1 million to record two albums and gave it a whopping two weeks to sell before dropping the band.

    It's my favorite major label story.
    I completely get it. I have lots of friends and session players who suffered the same fate.

    Publishing and money aside, what is the freaking point of spending money to record a band and then dropping them after such a short time? It's ridiculous. This is what I object to.

    And imagine how bummed the band was.

    This is not how decisions should be made for and about artists.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    This is not how decisions should be made for and about artists.
    Well.. The first decision to sign to a label is actually made BY the artist. One of the problems is that some bands think that just getting signed is the end of their struggles ,whereas it's really just the beginning.

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