Yesterday I talked about publishing in less than glowing terms, tho I did describe, ideally, what a good publisher would do, and the successful publishers do, indeed, do all that they can to derive income from the songs that they acquire. And a good publisher is also plugged into producers, record labels, tv and movie production houses and the networks themselves. A good publisher can get in to see people that you simply could not gain access to, unless you were extremely lucky or related. That explains why there are so very many really bad songs in so many films and tv shows. Nepotism.
I described yesterday the various means of actually deriving income from your compositions and I said that today I would talk about some other opportunities. One is performance of recordings in venues. Many people don’t realize this, but in the rest of the world, if a club or any business plays your music, you get paid for it. Performance in Europe can be very lucrative. I had a dance hit called, “Coming Out of Hiding” that my sister Pamala (www.pamalastanley.com) took to the top of the charts around the world. I still derive income from that song. But when it was a hit, monies poured in from Europe because every dance club that was playing it a couple of times a night had to pay for it. So when you cut a deal for a song or for you as a writer or co publisher, make certain that you have a participation in that revenue and make certain that the folks you are signing with are aware that you are aware of that income stream.
The other opportunity is licensing. TV shows must pay a fee to the owner of a song for it’s use in a film or TV show, and there are different rates for different uses and for repeats of the same show. BMI or ASCAP or SESAC can lay out all the rates for you but I wanted you to know that they are all available for you to see and make yourself aware of, and of course, most of the rates are negotiable. If you have a hit song that someone wants to use in a film, then the sky seems to be the limit, but for the rest of us, what you want to do is get your song into the film or tv show or even, (shudder til the residuals roll in) commercials. The publishing and writing on that can pay for your home, but the field is very competitive and very much who you know.
Speaking of which, it helps to get your music into any kind of production. If you know of an amateur film maker, semi pro film maker, or editor, then submit your music to them. Frequently when a project is begun, the film editor simply puts in music that he thinks fits the scene. After repeated viewings the producer and director can actually come to love a piece of music that isn’t famous, just very effective for their scene and just like that, your song is in the film. So check out the film directors as well as the producers and the directors. And even the actors.
Chris Isaak has a career because Melanie Griffith loved his song, Wicked Ways (I Want to Fall in Love). The recording with that haunting guitar and his plaintive voice simply captivated her. And it sounded like nothing else. Isaak and his producer just followed their instincts and made a remarkable recording. Ms Griffith brought the music to the director of Wild at Heart and it was used in the film. The recording was off of a CD that was already several years old and Chris was close to being dropped by the label at that time, but this song took off and he’s still recording, still working and still collecting residuals on a song he loves, he wrote, he’s proud of and he probably has to sing every single night. Small price to pay for a career. The lesson there is to make the music you want to make and then never give up on it. That’s my plan.