Moral dilemna - Songwriting royalties

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by smallbutmighty, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

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    Here's the situation: A certain song I wrote is under contract w/ a Nashville publisher. The contract was for 24 months, with an automatic reversion clause. The contract is up this month, and all rights will revert back to me.

    Meanwhile...

    The song has been cut by an indie artist. The cut came about because of my networking - 100%. The publisher not only did not contribute to finding this cut, but was unavailable to help with any of the logistics involved in bringing it to fruition. I tried many times to contact them for assistance, and was completely stonewalled. I've tried to contact them several times since - same results. There is a good chance the publisher has no idea this cut has even happened.

    The artist has sold enough CD's that I should have a check coming....perhaps even enough to go out to Red Robin. The artist is also on the verge of making some real headway, possibly leading to much more money in the future.

    Should I:

    1) Assume the publisher is unaware of the cut, lay low until the contract expires, and then proceed as the owner of the publishing - collecting all the royalties.

    - or -

    2) Resign myself to the fact that while the publisher did absolutely nothing to bring to pass this cut, it still happened while under contract with them. Continue to wait for them to collect the royalties and give me my share.

    - or -

    3) A better option of your choice.

    I should point out that up until this last year, I have enjoyed and profited from my relationship with this publisher.

    I should also point out that I now self-publish all my songs. This particular song was one of the last I signed to an outside publisher.

    ac
     
  2. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    What does your contract say? Therein lies the answer....

    I'd be amazed, however, if the contract doesn't legally bind you to #2
     
  3. dantedayjob

    dantedayjob Member

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    Tough call... I was in a band where the manager only got paid for gigs he secured, if we got the gig without him, no $, if someone else got the gig for us, no $ (the someone else might get a finders fee)... but, like Mark, I think there is a pretty good chance that you are contractually obligated to #2... the moral dilemma comes in wondering whether or not you should bring it to their attention, or let it ride and see if it comes back... the worst that could happen is that they would later be able to claim their share of the royalties, if you can prove that you sought their aid, but no aid was forth coming, it could constitute a breach of contract on their part and you get to keep your yummy shake from Red Robin...
     
  4. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

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    That's just the thing.... I needed their help getting everything done in preparation for the song's release, and got nothing. They are contractually obligated to use "every means at their disposal to exploit the song".

    I would say that did not happen.

    It should not be my job to wake them up when my hard work nets us both money.

    ac
     
  5. Chuck King

    Chuck King Member

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    You are in a legal morass that will be tough to clarify without litigation. Does the contract give you remedies if they breach, and if so, do you have to give them notice, etc.? You need to talk to a lawyer, not a web forum. Issues of competence aside, nobody here has enough information to give you appropriate advice.
     
  6. jay42

    jay42 Member

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    I would hope that this can be cleared up via negotiation, not litigation. It's tough because Red Robin scale royalties don't justify the bills you may be about to receive.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2009
  7. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    I am thinking they're in breach.I would stay quiet and let the publishing revert.I am thinking if they knew about this,they would try to get everything they could get out of their share of royalty rights.They don't deserve it as this is all on a case by case basis:each song has it's own respective contract.
     
  8. Dave Shoop

    Dave Shoop Member

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    Not a lawyer, but it would seem you didn't do the wisest thing posting this here should you choose a sneaky path. If there isn't any significant money to be made it probably is a non issue either way.
     
  9. Electric I

    Electric I Member

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    Bingo.
     
  10. The Captain

    The Captain Member

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    Trouble is, you are about to discover the joys of Catch 22.

    If the song doesn't get big, they won't find out, but your royalty cut will be small.

    If the song goes huge, your royalty will be bigger, but they will certainly find out.

    Let's face it, teh original guy Jimi signed a recording contract with did squat for him and never recorded note, but it still cost a biscuit for Hendrix to get out of the contract with him once he was successful.
    I think you need to accept that your contract with the publisher has been satisfactory and profitable for you up until now. Going teh routte of sudden sour grapes and incurring a bunch of dirty legal stuff is probably not in your interest.
     
  11. yakyak

    yakyak Supporting Member

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    I have a friend that wrote a song that was done by a country duo in the '80's. The record topped at number 14 on the charts. He was told that he needed to move to Nashville if he expected to be a songwriter. He did just that. He hooked up with some publishers that wanted ALL of his songs. They said they would shop them around. Of course there was a contract involved. He gave them everything he had. He told me that they did absolutely nothing to promote his songs. They did eventually revert back to him. It is my belief that they prey on your vanity. They get you signed up and THEN they have a piece of your pie in case YOU do something with the songs (as is your case). Chalk it up to lesson learned. You are under a binding contract and you will be the loser if the indy artist does anything with the song. I suspect the publisher would eventually find out. Do the right thing now or pay later (assuming that you have faith in the song). Remember this in the future. Nobody looks out for number one like number one!
     
  12. thintele

    thintele Member

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    4) take the publisher to Red Robin, buy 'em some garlic parmesean fries ...call it even
     
  13. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

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    As I mentioned, I now self-publish all my songs. The internet has mitigated the need for an outside publisher to a certain extent.

    I will probably make more attempts to contact this publisher...if for no other reason than it's not in my nature to trick people.

    ac
     
  14. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Supporting Member

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    Best suggestion so far. That will teach 'em.

    ac
     
  15. plexistack

    plexistack Member

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    A contract is a 2-way street. I see no reason to continue to honor your end if they have not done the same.
     

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