Goodnight Kiss Music

Daily Updates : July1-15, 1999

Hello everyone. It is July1.
Today's Topic concerns is a type of Question Collage. I collected some questions that have come in through the Newsletter and my email, and placed a random sample below. Read on down the page.

New readers interested in pitching songs:
Sign up for our Newsletter, the first place we announce whatever new projects are under way. Please never send anything without first reviewing our "How To Submit Material" page and here, at Daily Updates, just to insure that we are accepting. I invite you to surf through the Past Posted Pages for articles that apply to anyone seeking information about the Music Business from a Publisher/Writer/Artist's point of view. "Today's Topic", a little lower on this page carries some valuable hints, too. And just for fun, come on and enter our FREE Song Title Contest. Nothin' to it!

TODAY's TOPIC ~ Variety of Q&A

for Nashville Q&A, click here

Q. Hello, as a songwriter I have composed a music library of sequences of various lengths of under 30 seconds that will be especially suited for action, drama, science fiction, horror, suspense & ominous, ironic situations for background for film, television, commercials etc. I am looking for a publisher, can I send you a demo?

A. Hi Patrick. To be quite frank about it, there is a market for EXACTLY what you just described, 10/20/30 second cues that actually are "bought" as opposed to "signed." These are the little jingle-like things you hear under the "movie of the week" ads, etc on the various networks. The networks themselves buy them "out right", i.e., no royalties are paid on uses. You should be able to get 100-200 for each, though, so not a bad return. The best way to do this, is call the networks (or your local stations) themselves, and talk to their music department to find out their policies. As far as samples to represent film scoring, I would suggest sending a sample reel to the Music Supervisors at the Film Companies themselves. (The smaller ones are usually more receptive, but I'd start at the top and work my way down, if it was me!) As a Publisher, I, personally, only work with single songs, and 99.9% of those include vocals. Since the Film Companies take the Publishing for scoring (unless you are a legend and have a few MegaHit Scores under your belt), and the Writer keeps his/her writing royalties, there is no financial incentive to represent Composers in our company. There are a few Composer agents, but they mostly sign those with track records (to my limited experience in that field.)
Q. Someone wants to Publish a song I co-wrote. Any advice on licensing fee negotiation? Contracts are in the mail.

A. Hello, David. If it's for a Major Production, I'd grab an attorney to represent me. If it's for a smaller production, I'd probably test the waters myself. If it's for a publishing contract without specific immediate use, I'd be sure to have a reversion clause after a reasonable period of time, as well as a few other conditions (see the SGA list of ten things that every contract should have, probably at their site, or call their office and request one.) Not knowing the specifics, it's hard to say exactly what I might do... and please note that this is not advice, just what I myself might choose. It's usually better to have the help of an attorney when the situation warrants it.
Q. If you received an unsolicited demo with a copyright date of 1995, would that make any difference in your evaluation of the music? Your response would be greatly appreciated.

A. It would make no difference to me when it was written. But there are all types of publishers, so I can speak only for myself. Some are looking for that "cutting edge" sound that has never been heard before, so an older copyright might influence someone like that... but if your song is not of that nature, the date shouldn't matter. Or, at least, that's what I think!
Q. If I am going to put a demo together to demo the songs I have written, what is expected to be on the demo. As far as vocal quality and is it just listened to for the lyrical content? Thanks Again,

A. Hello, TBS. Remember this... your competition sends their songs on top quality tape or CD, performed by the best session singers and players in the world. Chances are they have already written hits for someone, and know people in the Industry. I'd like to say a song can stand on its own, no matter what, but let's be realistic. It should be the best it can possibly be on ALL counts. .
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Q. I feel I need to thank you for your web site, the things you tell us are so encouraging and positive. Songwriting is a tough business when you have not been recognized yet, ( even though I have songs under contract nothing has been recorded yet) but your articles lift me when I feel down and impatient waiting for some news on demos that I have sent out. Just one question on your demos, when you say mastered does that mean through a studio with a professional vocalist and mixed and mastered properly? I have a few songs recorded through a studio, but I have most of my songs with my husband playing keyboards and putting it through a Singing Machine. The studio was just too costly so I have been going this route. Thanking you again.

A. Hi, J.R., thanks for appreciating the site! I know how hard it is to "wait" for your first cut....and the second.... and the tenth..... and so on. We always are impatient for the "next one." Since I still write songs, as well as publish music, I empathize. This question is similar to the letter above. When I say that my company needs Master-quality material, it is because I find that to be the ONLY thing accepted in Film and Television (which is where most of my success lies.) Even if the song is supposed to be "bad" for a specific scene, it is almost always recorded well. Another point is, that in my 20 years experience in pitching artists and acts, the best "demos" are reacted to favorably by the greatest number of people. No matter what anyone SAYS, it is more work to listen for the song THROUGH a bad demo than it is to have the song SHINE because of a wonderful demo. The problem is that most prolific songwriters can't afford to demo a song a week. That's why a support system (a songwriter organization, teacher, Industry pro friend, etc.) makes a good reflecting board to help get a sense of the song, as well as an opportunity to make repairs before you make a more professional demo. J.R., you are fortunate to have the luxury of having keyboards, and some means to record a demo to play for reference, and do some experimenting. Was the contract offered to you on a pro demo or home one? Is your response rate better to one than another? As you climb higher within the Industry, the demands will be greater, the competition more fierce, and the level more expensive to maintain. Best wishes, if you want to do it bad enough, long enough, you will.
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Q. Hi my question is this when submitting a song do you require a finished master or just a good recording ? Why I ask is that some companies have sent songs back asking me to re submit them after re recording to master standard now. i never send a song off that hasn't been professionally recorded to a good demo standard usually using session musicians etc, but it seems for some companies that is no longer good enough. Now you hear about the old days when people just used to demo the song on a piano or strum it out on acoustic guitar as these guys say if its a good song then you can tell it from the most simple of arrangements. I do realise those days are long gone but what is your companies view on this? I like to know now as much as possible what the companies are looking for before i send anything saves wasting each others time so to speak. Not blowing my own trumpet but i have some songs commercially available although no big sellers as of yet this is one of the reasons i like to find out as much as possible before i send material nowadays.
thanks from N. S.

A. Hello, N.S. As the competition gets fiercer (the closer to getting real cuts you are), and since most record labels provide Film and TV with free CDs of their new acts to help break them out to the public, and since most Major Labels are now run by Corporate Execs, rather than guys who started in a band way back when, the need for more perfect demos becomes more aggressive in order to just compete as "an unknown." Because I shop a lot of songs to Film and TV, and many times they want to cut it into the film "yesterday", I need ready-to-go Master versions of what I sign. Of course each publisher's needs are different.
I would like information on how to sell lyrics. Does it need to be musically produced, or is there a market just for the written word? Any help would be highly appreciated. Thanks :-)

A. Let's first talk "sell" lyrics. I am against "selling" almost any intelluctual property outright. It's too hard to create quality product, and too hard to place it. Unless it's ALOT of money, or some special usage, I doubt I would ever SELL my rights to anything, lyric or not. However, if you are serious about the Music Industry, then you might want to research some composers (songwriters) who are seeking lyricists, put something viably commercial to tape, and shop it for publishing or straight to the appropriate acts for cutting. In that instance, you'd get an advance (size depends on who's cutting your song on what label) and all the writer's royalties for the next 75 years. Even if you need to go through a publisher to get a cut, you still should retain your writer's royalties. You are the writer, right?
Q. How does one go about becoming a company staff writer ?"what is the plus and minus factors of being a being a staff writer"?

A. I think there are good and bad reasons about both. Your publisher suddenly becomes your personal postal person for taking care of presenting your songs to the appropriate targets. The songs they want demo'd, they demo. There are suddenly two of you equally concerned with your interests. A good publisher will review and help edit your work without going after any writer's credit. You get a paycheck (however small at first) for writing songs. And the latest thing that publishers are trying to do is hook their writers up with other good co-writers. The bad parts are that the publisher keeps all your publishing, whether it's cut or not for 40-50 years (and that's a GOOD contract!), and you normally have to pay back all those salary checks they paid you out of your royalties when they start coming in. Of course, there's usually a cut or two that you are the force in creating, and most writers feel " the publisher didn't get this, I did!", disregarding the time, encouragement, phone calls, pitches, copies, favors, co-writing without credit, on and on, that the publisher puts in on the songs. I find that if you work together, and remember you are a team, everyone wins. And, if you don't write something that makes money, your staff deal may not last too long. And, just like any other, you get some experience, call the company you want to write for, and make an appointment for an interview... just go well-armed with charted hits.
Q.... why don't you send me a copy of the tune which I will pay you for.

A. Hi, again, Dave,
(This was a request for us to send a copy of the song that was selected for the Christmas project.) Just like our other "sampler CDs", the reason we can't sell them, is, they are not RECORDS, but rather a presentation of the songs to professional parties who might cut them. If we sold them, we'd owe royalties to the writers, the players, the singers, and who knows who all else. So, the best I can do is promise you that as soon as there is Goodnight Kiss Product, we will have a link here. Thanks for offering, though.


(C) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Janet Fisher Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)