Songmine: Administration Deals & Starting Your Own Company by John Braheny

A John Braheny Songmine column from the archives…

Songmine: Administration Deals & Starting Your Own Company by John Braheny

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Songmine by John Braheny

Administration Deals & Starting Your Own Company

I. PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATION- If you have a catalogue of recorded works or a record deal as a writer/artist or group, and want to set up your own company, you’d do well to shop for an administration situation. You need to already have some recording action happening because an administrator doesn’t own any of your copyrights (one of the advantages), and depends on the 15% of the songs’ income as a fee. If there is nothing to generate income, they receive nothing for their paperwork. Administrators do the following things to varying degrees: (1.( The paperwork and negotiations of granting recording and synchronization licenses (film/T.V.) and registering copyrights. (2.) Digging up royalties that you may never have received from previous recordings of your songs. (3.) Sub-publishing – setting up publishing or administration affiliates in foreign countries who can pitch your songs locally and assist in royalty collections there. (4.) Collecting money in the U.S. and Canada from record companies. Some affiliate with the Harry Fox Collection Agency and some do the collections themselves. Fox gets three and a half percent. (5.) Pitch your songs to producers and artists. Some administrators won’t do this at all and are basically acocunting firms. Others consider that the more action they generate on your catalogue, the bigger their 15% becomes and since they don’t own any of the publishing rights, they can’t look down the road and say, “Someday this tune will get recorded and make me a lot of money.” They’re working for you on maybe a two year contract and need to make these songs pay off now. (6). Follow-up – if you’re being your own publisher and making the contacts with producers or artists but want to preserve the friendships without having to negotiate with or hassle your friends with follow-ups, the administrator should handle it. If an administrator wants more than ‘15% you should be assured that you’ll receive more benefits and they should be able to explain them thoroughly to you. Please shop those deals. BMI or ASCAP can refer you to a list of administration companies.

II. STARTING YOUR OWN PUBLISHING COMPANY- Assuming that you feel your best play of action is to start your own company, here’s how to proceed: (1). You must have a song recorded and a release date of the record in order for BMI or ASCAP to process the paperwork. They adopted that policy because thousands of people wanted their own companies but never had a recording; consequen-tly, no airplay, nothing to collect and a lot of wasted time and effort on their part. (2.) Clear publishing company titles with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC. Remember that you can’t have a company with the same name affiliated with more than one performance rights organization. Unless you intend to publish the songs of other writers who may belong to other performance rights organizations, you need only set up a company with the one you’re affiliated with as a writer. Give them three alternate titles. Pick something unusual. Remem-ber, they have thousands. (3.) Once the name has been cleared, call the Metropolitan News, 205 South Broadway, L.A., Calif. 90012, 213 628-4384, and ask them to send you the forms for a DBA (Doing Business As.) They will send you the forms and tell you how to pay for it (the total cost is $35.00), then they will print, in a local paper, a notice that you’re doing business under the fictitious name of ‘Crass Commercial Publishing Co.’ or whatever the name is. (4.) Copyright the songs being recorded in the name of your publishing company and get all the forms you need from BMI or ASCAP, whichever you’re affiliated with. They’ll explain their use. (5.) If you know that you will be hiring people to work for you, then you will have to go to the Internal Revenue Service and get a business tax number. Also be sure to contact the State Board of Human Resources and get a State and Federal tax number.

Previously in the Songmine Collection:

About Songmine and Music Connection Magazine:

John Braheny met Eric Bettelli and Michael Dolan right before they were going to publish Music Connection magazine. Eric and Michael wanted to get their publication out to as many songwriters as they could. They had already heard of the LA Songwriters Showcase, and of John and his partner, Len Chandler. John’s goal was to advertise the schedule of guest speakers and performers at the weekly Showcase… so they made a deal. 

They published John’s Songmine column (he had never before written a magazine article!) in their very first edition, in November 1977. Trading out the column for advertising, this arrangement continued for many years. Plus, Eric and Michael came to the Showcase each week and distributed free copies to the songwriters!

Those articles became so popular that (book agent and editor) Ronny Schiff offered John’s articles to F&W Media, where they became the backbone of John’s textbook, The Craft and Business of Songwriting. As a follow-up, Dan Kimpel (author, songwriter, teacher), who had also worked at LASS, took on the Songwriting column at Music Connection magazine which continues to this day! You can subscribe to get either hard copies or online.

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