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Composer Royalties

Anglo 12 Jan 01 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Phil Cooper 12 Jan 01 - 03:04 PM
Bert 12 Jan 01 - 03:43 PM
Anglo 12 Jan 01 - 04:45 PM
Jeri 12 Jan 01 - 05:10 PM
Anglo 12 Jan 01 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Phil Cooper 13 Jan 01 - 12:56 AM
Seamus Kennedy 13 Jan 01 - 03:59 AM
Anglo 13 Jan 01 - 03:20 PM
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Subject: Composer Royalties
From: Anglo
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 02:20 PM

If I, as a singer in the US, sing someone else's song, I pay a statutory royalty to the author/composer, currently 7.55 cents per song (of less than 5 minutes) according to the Harry Fox Agency webpage.

But I have some further questions, and wondered if anyone here knew the answers - I tried a DT search to see if it had been covered but the search timed out, so I apologize if I'm going over old ground.

If there are different words/music authors, is the royalty split 50/50? If the words are public domain, do I just owe 50% of the royalty for the music?

If I record, say, a British song, do I owe royalties according to the Harry Fox formula, or to the equivalent British formula? If the latter, what is it? Is it on a webpage somewhere? I had a quick look at PRS and MCPS but they weren't specific.

Thanks for any help.


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: GUEST,Phil Cooper
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 03:04 PM

I believe you pay the standard royalty if you record the song. I understand that any licensing of live, performed material is the responsibility of the venue, thus the ASCAP and BMI stickers you see in bars sometimes. I've sometimes had contracts specifying that all material that we perform be either traditional (public domain) or orginal (to avoid ASCAP and BMI fees). Hope that helps.


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: Bert
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 03:43 PM

It can also depend on who wrote the song. For example there are different rules at Áine's Mudcat songbook. The rules there are...

Anyone is welcome to perform these songs in public without royalties; however, if any of them are recorded or published for profit, the writers/composers expect the usual royalties.

So stick to Áine's Mudcat songbook and you'll be fine.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: Anglo
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 04:45 PM

I'm sure they're very nice, but singing Áine's Mudcat songbook isn't really what I had in mind :-)

Part of my question was, Phil, how do I find out the "standard royalty" of a song copyrighted in the UK? Can I pay them the standard US royalty since I recorded it here or do I have to do something with the British Performing Rights Society?

Seems to me, for example, if you wrote a song and I wanted to record it, I have every right to do so so long as it is "published," e.g. if you have recorded it first - so long as I pay you the royalty. Now I could send a check to ASCAP and say, "Please give most of this to Phil," or I could send the check straight to you; either way I think I'd be clear, at least I'd _feel_ clear.


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: Jeri
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 05:10 PM

Anglo, please forgive me - I know very little about this, but what I do know tells me the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) would be the organisation to ask.

Their website is here.


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: Anglo
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 06:06 PM

Thanks, yes, Jeri. I went to their web page and looked around, but found no real specifics (unlike the Harry Fox Agency, which lists the US statutory mechanical royalty rates for the last several years). I did email a question, but it's late Friday night there and I don't expect to hear back for a while.


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: GUEST,Phil Cooper
Date: 13 Jan 01 - 12:56 AM

Dear Anglo,

The one time we recorded something from Britain that didn't have a publisher here we recorded Huw Williams' song "Rosemary's Sister." In that case Dirty Linen Magazine's Paul Hartman got us in touch with the authot, who said to put MCPS after the song in the credits on the recording and then send a check for the standard US rate to his then record company (Steam Pie Records I believe). A few months later he wrote and said he'd gotten the rights back for the song from Steam Pie and to not send more checks. The amount we were sending we in the tens of dollars and I think the bank may have been charging more for the service fee than what the check was worth. Here we have dealt with Harry Fox, but usually try and find the songwriter themselves and see if we can pay directly (I like to know the money gets to who is supposed to get it). Quite a few British publishers do have reciprocal deals with Harry Fox in the US. But there are also surprising gaps in what Fox licenses or doesn't.


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 13 Jan 01 - 03:59 AM

To the best of my knowledge - and I pay royalties to British songwriters as well as U.S. songwriters - if a Brit publishing company has licensed a work to the Harry Fox Agency, you must pay the HFA the statutory U.S. rate. And if that means the author doesn't get his full whack, so be it. I got in trouble once for paying royalties directly to an author because I wanted him to get the full amount. His British publisher had licensed the song to HFA for U.S. publication. HFA found out that I had recorded the song and came after me for royalties. Fortunately, I had kept all the cancelled checks and explained that I was unaware that they had publishing rights on this side of the Atlantic. They were reasonable about it and didn't try to punish me for the transgression, but told me that I had to send all royalty payments to them in future. Which I did. I have recorded one song where HFA gets 50%, and another publishing company gets the other 50%. Your best bet is to check with HFA and find out if a song is licensed by them or not. MCPS and IMRO (Irish) register with them as a matter of course. The songwriter is only getting a portion of the royalties but that's the price he pays for licensing his work with several companies. Essentially, when a publishing company takes your song, you are no longer in control of it.

All the best.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Composer Royalties
From: Anglo
Date: 13 Jan 01 - 03:20 PM

Thank you all. That has been very helpful.


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