Good bedtime read for budding songwriters -
just a paragraph or two from Patrick's fascinating depressing story
"Those of us who were, however tangentially, involved in the folk music revival of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s wished not only to partake of various folk traditions but also in our own modest creations – written in what we perceived to be the Folk Idiom (or Idiot) – to become part of The Tradition. My own salient experience of this desire came one day in the late ‘60s when I was at Puck Fair in the Co. Kerry town of Killorglin. I was merrily slip-jigging from one pub to another when I heard a man I took to be a Traveller busking in the street. He was singing “Old Woman in Cotton”. I thought, “That’s it! You are now Trad/Anon. It’s all downhill from here.” On the other hand we would not have scorned a little recognition and, if there was any going, a bit of money for our efforts.
So, in sum, we then had a 49 year-old folk revival ditty that has been commercially recorded at least eight, probably nine and possibly ten times and has been at one time or another claimed by various different music publishers and once listed as Copyright Control. Neither of the song’s writers has ever received a penny in mechanical or performing royalties in respect of their creation. The present publishers having at one time – speciously in my view – dismissed the above-related history of the song as being none of their concern, did at one point undertake to do some chasing. The original dismissal of old history seemed to me to be somewhat cavalier as my understanding has been that a condition of any transfer of songs from one publisher to another – and I have as a publisher been involved in such transactions – stipulates that all outstanding royalties due to the writers have been paid. "
At one point the song had earned royalty credits of £19.30 but the publisher's policy was to pay when the balance reached £20.00. They then sold the rights to another company and the next statement he received was for £26.00 ... but the policy of the new company, of course, was to only pay out when the credit balance reached £30.00 !