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Saturday, November 26, 2016


Attention: Songwriters!

How long does it take you to write a song? A very silly question actually. One of my longest songs, “Sarah”, took less than twenty minutes to write. Assemble is perhaps a better for that particular song, which when performed, takes around seven minutes. That is another story unto itself, I'll explain in another blog. However, I've had three-minute songs which have taken two weeks to write, others an afternoon Yet others, somewhere in between.

The reality is that songs, particularly quality songs, which hold both a great melody and a great story, that married the melody in perfect union, don't get written in three minutes, by and large. The time invested may vary, however, a significant time will take place between writing the music, lyrics, and adding the arrangement.

What is your art worth? What is your time invested worth?

If you are a songwriter, how seriously do you take yourself as an artist? Is it something that you take nonchalantly, carefree, and pretty much as a hobby, while your main income may be anything from a mechanic, to a stock broker?

On the other hand, perhaps you perform your songs at venues in order to earn a living, or perhaps augment your income, in addition to the feeling of self-fulfillment and sharing your creations?

Guess what?

Either way, you are entitled to get paid for what you are doing!

There are three organizations in the United States which will help you with this, BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC.

There are several different functions these organizations do, all of which fall under the umbrella of protecting your rights as a writer.

The Performing Rights Royalties are the ones that most of us will be concerned with to start. Here is BMI's explanation:

BMI royalties are performing right royalties, which are earned when a musical work is performed publicly. Public performance occurs when a song is sung or played, recorded or live, on radio and television, as well as through other media such as the Internet, live concerts and programmed music services. BMI grants licenses to perform, use or broadcast music from its extensive repertoire to hundreds of thousands of users of music in public places, such as radio and tv stations, hotels, clubs, colleges, restaurants, stores, and more.

For most of us, the first part of this statement applies: “... when a musical work is performed publicly...”

In other words, when you play one of your songs out at a venue, you will get paid for it. On the same token, if I play your song at a gig, you will again, get paid for it. In other words, I'm playing your song, you have every right to be compensated for it.

Likewise, if your music is being played on a radio station, be it terrestrial or internet, a tv station, or being played on an internet site, you are entitled to be compensated for it. The same holds true for music suppliers to businesses such as Muzac.

It should be noted that artists have the option to give permission to establishments and radio stations in writing, to forgo paying royalties. The logic here is the exposure has the opportunities to the artist of gaining new fans.

We all know that people like say, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Bruno Mars, Carlos Santana, James Taylor, Alecia Keys, Burt Bacharach, Willie Nelson, all get paid their performance royalties. If YOU play their songs, they get paid for it. But guess what? You get the exact same amount as they do for each performance, or media player of one of your songs, weather you play it, I play it, or Willie Nelson plays it! It's an even playing field for everyone!

As a matter of fact, the estates of deceased artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison get paid, even though they've been dead for over forty years! The royalties are in effect for seventy-five years, at which point, the estate can renew for another seventy-five years.

What do you have to do to be part of this?


You'll need to join one of the aforementioned organizations, BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC.

Why? Because in the Performing Rights Royalities, THEY are the ones who pay you.


You need to report each your performances and at least the songs of your own that you performed.

I'm with BMI since 2000, whom I'me very happy with. I joined them when I signed with McClure and Trowbridge Publishing up in Nashville.  BMI pays quarterly.

One thing you must be careful of is not to report things like House Concerts. In the end, nothing will become of it, but the owners of the house concerts may get a pile of inquiring calls. Bear in mind that radio stations, and venues, such as bars, restaurants, and the like, are required to pay an annual fee to BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP for the right to play your music. House concerts generally don't keep a penny, with all of the proceeds going to the artist.

In short, BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP are the bridge between songwriters and businesses and organizations that wish to play their music publicly. Or, in other words, they make sure that you are compensated fairly for your art, work, and efforts.

If you don't belong to one of the three organizations, pick one that you're happy with, and join.

As I say, BMI works very well for me and I'm very happy with them. They've got me into the largest songwriting festival in the U.S.A. six years running.

However, if you're a songwriter, don't cut yourself short. Get paid for what you do! If you play your songs out, or others do, get paid for it. Likewise with the radio.

If you haven't joined one of the aforementioned organizations, it's time to raise the bar.

You're a professional. Get paid for what you do. Get paid for your art. 

This is part of how you make your living.

Please check out my book, Bar Stories!

Bar Stories! A bit of adventure, a hint of mystery, some gray matter stimulation, laced with travel, and peppered with humor throughout! Take a unique trip with this Trop Rock musician through bars and the unique, odd, and funny goings on in them! Take a trip from Key West to London to Cape Cod, to Miami and more! So grab a libation and join the author on this wild ride! Seventeen 5-Star Ratings!

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