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3 Publishing Tips for Today’s Songwriters

David Quan is Angry Mob Music’s Senior Director of Publishing and oversees one of the most critical aspects of our business: the collective works of our songwriters, artists, and composers. He is a constant and driven advocate who ensures that talent is being paid fairly and properly for their art. David’s long-term career in music publishing began with an internship at Warner/Chappell before moving to key tenures with All Nations Music, Music & Media International, Leiber & Stoller, and Universal Music Enterprises, as well as with NBC/Universal Television and Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he was responsible for the protection and licensing of their considerable catalogs. David has always fought for the value of music but that fight is especially relevant today as hard working music creators and artists are under constant attack from shrinking budgets, government regulation, and new technology. Here he gives 3 key tips for today’s hard working songwriters.

Do I need to join a PRO?

If you have decided that songwriting is going to be your profession, you MUST join David Quan (Fun)a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC. Performance income can be a major source of income for a songwriter but the PROs will only collect income on your behalf if you are a member and if your songs are registered with them. I spend a lot of time registering songs with the PROs. It’s not a difficult task once you do it enough, but you have to be very detail oriented because you have to input all of the songwriters, their corresponding publishers, and each writer’s percentages along with PRO affiliations. I am on the PRO websites everyday to ensure that our registrations are correct because I want to make sure we are collecting every single cent that is owed to our songwriters.

Should I license my music for free?

Music is NOT free. Music has a value. Anyone who wants to use your music needs to pay a fee. That fee is usually up to you to decide. Over the years, I’ve had so many requests to use music for free and they continue to come in. I spend a lot of my time “fighting” with music users on what is a fair and an equitable fee. Based on the terms of the deal, such as length of the term and territory, I can derive a fee that is commensurate with the rights requested. I fight very hard to get the highest fee possible without blowing the deal. I know that my negotiations have a direct impact on my songwriters’ financial well-being. If I am not able to secure a deal, that means my songwriters won’t get paid. If you are negotiating your own licenses remember that music, your music that you poured your time, energy and soul into, has value so never give it away.

How should I keep all of the song information organized?

Keeping detailed records about your songs are critical. What’s the title of the song? Who are the co-writers? What is their PRO affiliations? Are there co-publishers? What are the percentage splits for each song? To keep organized, we have just begun using a system called Music Maestro, formerly Counterpoint. It’s a prepackaged software program by Vistex and it’s the industry standard for music rights management. In order to provide excellent administration services to our clients, we have to be detailed and organized. That means capturing the right information, so when it comes time to pay out royalties to our clients, we know it’s accurate. Songwriters, whether independent or signed with a publisher, should be diligent in gathering and organizing all of this information about their song catalog. This information is absolutely critical in making sure you are paid what is properly owed to you.

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