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Informational Articles

Informational Articles

Business Entities

There are mainly four forms of business that can be used to organize your music business affairs. These are (1) sole proprietorship (a single self-employed individual running the business); (2) partnership (two or more self-employed people running the business); (3) corporation (which can be owned by one or more individuals and is organized under specific state laws); or (4) a limited liability company, which has elements of a partnership and a corporation.
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How to Set Up a Money Deal

This chapter explores some of the forms of financing that are available and shows how to analyze and structure a financial package to obtain the money for your project. The examples used will draw on the music industry, but the concepts and ways of structuring deals apply whether you are a musician, writer, actor, or, for that matter, if you want to establish your own instrument manufacturing company.
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Digital Downloads and Streaming: Copyright and Distribution Issues

In prior versions of this chapter, we explored how the development of digital compression technology, concurrent with the wide acceptance of the Internet created an environment that shook up many of the old rules of the music industry and challenged the traditional music business to adapt to changes in consumer preferences. There have been many changes since that time, including continued development of digital delivery technology, statutes, court cases, contractual agreements and new economic models, creating a whole new paradigm on how to provide consumers with recorded music, with music publishers and record companies attempting to control the economic returns due to them and to the creators of music and sound recordings. This chapter discusses the rights of master owners, recording artists, music publishers and composers in this ever-evolving landscape. It will explain how the recent changes to the Copyright Act, including relevant recent litigation and business developments, are working to create a mechanism to provide an economic return for music and recordings in the digital media world.
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Club Contracts

Many bands get their start playing in clubs. There are several types, for example, draw clubs, clubs with walk-in trades and lounge act clubs. A club or hotel room that has been booked by a private party for a special occasion, such as a wedding, anniversary or industrial convention, etc., is called a “casual.”
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Collaborator/Songwriter Agreements

If you cowrite a song with someone, both of you own the song as “joint owners” in what the copyright law calls a “joint work.” This is irrespective of whether one of you writes the music and the other the lyrics, or you both write music and lyrics. Both of you have an “undivided” ownership in the song (i.e., you each own 50% of the whole song). There is not a separate copyright in the music and lyrics. There is one copyright in both.
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Recording and Distribution Contracts with Independent Labels

An alternative to seeking a major label recording contract or raising funds to produce your own recording is to approach independent record companies. Many independent record labels have become very successful in reaching and developing niche markets. By researching these labels, you may find one that successfully markets music that fits your style and is interested in producing, manufacturing and distributing your record. Some of these independent labels have been very successful and have become subsidiaries to major recording labels, such as Def Jam (Universal), Aftermath (Interscope/Universal), Maverick (Warner Bros. Music), and LaFace and Zomba (Sony BMG), or have developed affiliations with major label branch distribution, such as Rounder Records and Concord Records.
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Ownership and Copyright Registration in Songs

One question most frequently asked by songwriters* is “How can I keep my work from being stolen and how can I prove my ownership in the songs I have written?” There are various ways that proof of ownership can be obtained. The best form of proof is registration of your copyright claim with the Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. This article explores Copyright Office registration and alternative forms of proving ownership and the merits of each of them.
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Sources of Music Publishing Income

The following explanation describes the basic sources of music publishing income.

The primary sources of income from the commercial exploitation of a song include performance rights, mechanical licenses, synchronization licenses and print rights. These sources can be exploited through film, television, videos, records, tapes, sheet music, commercials, broadcasting, internet distributions, as well as other forms of exploitation.
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Outline of Issues to Cover in Negotiating Recording Agreements

  1. Initial Term – Duration.
  2. Options.
  3. a. Number.
    b. Exercise mechanism.
    c. Duration of each option.
    d. Seven-Year Rule and LC 2855.
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Clearance of Content for Audio-Visual Projects, including Film, Television, Video, and Internet Usage

The following outline identifies the intellectual property rights and issues with regard to the clearances necessary to use specifically identified content in audio-visual projects, including film, television, video, and Internet usage.
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Copyright, Clearance, and Related Issues concerning Digitally Distributed Content


  1. Exclusive right to reproduce.
  2. Exclusive right to distribute.
  3. Exclusive right to display.
  4. Exclusive right to perform (Section 114 qualifications regarding sound recordings).

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