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I've left my publisher but now what?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 20:03
by paxvet1970
My contract expired in May with my publisher. The CD which was co-written by myself and a somewhat well known artist was released in 2005. I'll spare you the details.
They ( the publishers) were unsuccessful in placing any of the songs onto t.v or film soundtracks which is their specialty. As the contract expired, blaming each other of course took place. They irrationally wanted me to reimburse their mailing costs out of the blue. The known artist is still in their stable with his full catalog represented. 12 CDs from various bands. This one CD that I co-wrote with him and sang on is what's the issue. They, the publishers ( nor he,( co-writer) who owes me money and is a jerk )won't respond to my inquiries. I'm asking what happens now with our CD? I have no contract , my former writing partner does and they are actively promoting and streaming my/our songs on their website. I plan on setting myself up as my own publisher with my solo CD released Oct 2009. Sorry for being long-winded. Any advice is most welcome.

Re: I've left my publisher but now what?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 19:27
by ahh OM
I'm not a lawyer and I haven't read the contracts, so any advice I offer has to be taken with a grain of salt. From my understanding of standard music publishing contracts, at least the ones I've read, the co-writer has to sign off on any co-written material or the publishing company can not legally publish it. Unless it was a work for hire or you somehow relinquished your copyright on the songs that were co-written in which case you may need a lawyer. Again, without reading the contracts it difficult to be sure.

Here's how I would have written the contracts. Let's say writer "A" is a current client and has co-written a new CD with writer "B" and I want to offer writer "B" a 2 year publishing contract. I would add the CD to my current clients contract and have writer "B" listed as a co-writer with the royalty info as a standalone contract. Then I would offer writer "B" a contract and list writer "A" as the co-writer with the same agreed royalty negotiations included. That way if either of the contracts expired, for what ever reason I could still maintain publishing rights for the CD. My guess is your name must be included in your co-writers contract or the publishing house could not continue to actively market the material.

As far as the demand that you reimburse the publisher for mailing costs, it may have been in the contract, but it is probably just an attempt to make you stop pursuing any money they might owe you. I found a great break down of a music publishing agreement ... eement.htm .

I think self / independent publishing is a good way to go, it's a lot more work, but these kind of problems are minimized when your at the helm. Moreover, who cares more about getting your music to succeed in the marketplace than the artist?

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 20:17
by paxvet1970
Thanks very much for your insightful response. I got some advice from another friend:

Who said: I don't know all the specifics of your situation and your contract, but it doesn't seem to me there is a major legal problem, yet.

No one seems to be disputing that you are a co-writer of the CD. The only thing that seems to have transpired is that your contract has expired and these jerks aren't returning your calls.

If these publishers are successful, now, in placing a song, even though they only have a deal with the other co-writer, they still would be responsible for paying you your pro-rata share of whatever was agreed upon for you as a co-writer.

I think, the same would hold true for you, too. If they don't contest you exploiting the rights to the CD in whatever ways you want, and if you do derive income from it, you would owe them ( other co-writer's) pro rata share... what you had agreed upon between you two.

Where this can get complicated is if they feel you breached the previous contract by not touring, or if they want to deduct unreasonable expenses off the top, if and when they ever do get a sale, which may be unlikely, or if they dispute your right to exploit your rights in the CD all together. Then everything could get very messy.

But I don't know if I'd lose any sleep over it, now. The fact that they are not returning your calls actually frees you up to do what you have planned.

In the music biz, as in the film biz, much is promised, but seldom is it actually delivered. If we fought over every failure to sell what had been promised, we'd be fighting all the time and have energy for nothing else. Well, maybe we do.

And sometimes to resolve these things you have to be long winded and lay out all the specifics. Possibly, your lawyer could sent them a letter specifying what your intentions are with the CD, now, that you are no longer under contract to them. And let them know that if they should accrue any monetary gain from your co-writer efforts on the CD, you would expect to be paid an equal amount as is due the other co-writer, as you will do, also, for them, if you should accrue any income from the CD.