A Dirty Truth About Songwriting & The Music Business

A Dirty Truth About Songwriting & The Music Business

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Hey, guys I'm Steve Freeman and welcome, back to, the, Steve Freeman podcast, it is good to have you here on this, Friday I'm preparing, to head, to the. Beach down south, for a week of relaxation. What. Sounds good to say in my head but I know that I'll be working just as what's down there as I, do here but you all know working with the ocean, in view is a lot different than, just. Working, period. But. I wanted to be sure and get this podcast, in today because I think it's one of importance, we're, gonna talk about songwriting, we're, gonna talk about expectations. And we're gonna talk about a subject that was. The topic, of one. Of my, revolution. Newsletters. That went out to all this with the subscribers. Earlier. This week about the lawsuit, over, the Sunday, night football theme, song, game on. From. Carrie Underwood. Before. We get into all that though you got to do what you got to do guys, if you're watching the, podcast on YouTube, it looks a little different today and, that is just because we're we're packing we're getting ready I didn't want to go into the to the other studio and set everything up so we're doing it this way but, nevertheless while. You're here please subscribe to the channel hit. That subscription button and make sure that you hit that Bell icon next, to it so that you're notified every. Time I upload new. Content also, don't forget to follow me across social media at these. Steve Freeman on all social, media, platforms we've. Even got a brand, new Facebook, page just. For the. Steve Freeman podcast, and you can find that on. Facebook, and speaking, of the revolution, if you haven't already sign, up for my weekly newsletter the. Revolution, it's absolutely, free I don't sell or give your information to, anybody it's just between you and me but, it's a great source of information for things like that are gonna be the topic of today's. Podcast. You can find, and join the revolution sign, up for it at my website V Steve Freeman dot-com, or the. Steve Freeman. Podcast.com. Alright. Let's jump into it so. There, was an article that got posted in. And I of course saw it all across social, media the other day. And that is here we go again there. Is a another, lawsuit another. Songwriter. Team, of songwriters, suing. An artist. For quote-unquote, stealing. Their song, this. Suit stems from, the, Sunday, night football theme song, from Carrie Underwood, game.

On And. Those. Of you that are football fans like me you're very, familiar. With that song it. Has a wide audience. Millions. And millions of people hear it every week so it is kind of a it's, kind of a big deal and let's face it lawsuits, don't get filed over songs that aren't beg or aren't generating revenue, it's just not the way things work but. In this case it's all too familiar what, you see is some. Songwriters. Suing. Carrie, Underwood, NBC. And the NFL over this, song because. Earlier. This same, songwriting, team and this artist who had written this song called, game on had. Actually, pitched, it to Carrie Underwood, and her team, so. What you've got in this lawsuit is you, know and you can look you can go research and you can find both of these songs and a, lot of these like Fox News I believe had it where they put both of videos for both of those songs back-to-back you, can listen to them and determine on your own whether you think that, they have a case here. Listening. To it myself and, being involved in these sort of things it's. Very difficult, to prove, and. We'll get into that but the linchpin, of this case is. Really. About that. Carey's, team did have access to this song they do sound very similar, they're different in other aspects, but the, the titles, the same kind. Of the melody structure, is the same and. Then, you add in that element that Carrie Underwood's, team had heard this song had. Heard the version that was pitched. And. So, here we go with, another lawsuit. Now before. I get into how I want to address, you guys and, tell you how you need to prepare yourself, and what steps you need to take I do. Want to talk a little bit about the legal aspect, of this because like I said it is extreme. Extremely. Hard to. Win one. Of these type of cases. Because. The. You have to hire a musicologist, and yes that is a real thing and those. Musicologists. The plaintiff will hire one the defendants, will hire one sometimes, they hire multiple. But. What they're going to do is they're gonna analyze, these two songs and in order for this case to move forward and even have a chance at at. Winning, this case these, musicologists. Are going to have to find enough unique, identifiers, that both of these songs share, to. Prove that this song wasn't stolen but that it is in fact an original. Composition. By. Carrie Underwood and her team, now. Nashville. Songwriters, and people, in the music industry they. Know what those unique identifiers, are and they've gotten really, really good at.

Listening. To other. Content. Or at let's give them the benefit of the doubt and let's just even say being inspired. By. Other works they. Know what they have to change the exact, amount of the things they need to change for it to be considered. Not. Stolen. But an original, composition. That. Leads me into talking. About how it affects us as, songwriters. And things that. Those of you that want in this business that you need to know the, first of those things is that, it is easier. For a record, label to. Steal your song than. It is to actually be, creative, and come up with one on their own, it's. A sad fact but it's true in our business one. Of the things that I went. Through and I talked about in, the. Revolution, newsletter, this week was how things have changed and, the. Music business is completely different than. It ever used to be and it's not ever gonna go back to. The way that it was before. Then. That's something that you've got to realize there, used to be a lot more money to go around and there, used to be almost two sides of the business you had the record label side of the business which signed, the artists did the marketing did the promotion, and sold the product. The other side were the songwriters. And the, producers who wrote the music that, the other side cut and released, and they worked very seamless, together and it, was ever there was enough money to go around for everybody well, that's. All changed music, isn't selling anymore that's when you started seeing the, advent, of record labels doing these 360. Deals with artists, so, that the record label gets a piece of the artists. Publishing, songwriter. Royalties, merchandise. Ticket, sales. Endorsements. They get a piece of the entire pie. And. It's. Smart for them I mean when, you think about capitalism. And you think if you were the record label and you, wanted to be successful that's exactly, what you would do - so I can't, fault them for doing, it is it. Hurting the songwriting, business, it is absolutely. Hurting the songwriting, business and it's actually, making it, impossible. To. To. Advise, someone, to have a career, in just, songwriting. That's, why I encourage. Every, artist, that I work with or every songwriter, that I work with be, your own vehicle because, the days of writing. Songs as an, outside songwriter, and getting. Any cut that matters that's going to generate any kind of revenue, or buzz to. Get you on that inner circle of being one of the go-to songwriters. It, is. Very slim its slim to none and slim. Just left, town because here's, the way things work now and. You're. Not going to want to hear this but it is the truth and you've got to understand, you've got to know what you're up against, so. That you can approach the business properly here is the way that it works now. Because. There, are no longer those two sides of the music business the people who create it and the people who sell it now. It's all one thing every. Major record, label, whether it's Warner Brothers or Sony. Universal. You, could even throw big machine in there all of, these major labels. Have, affiliated. And sister, publishing, companies, each. One of those public publishing. Companies is signing. Songwriters. Take. Sony for example, they have Sony ATV, here. In Nashville sony/atv, probably. Has 200, 250. Maybe more I don't know it's been a while. Songwriters. Signed to, Sony. So. Think about it from the record labels percent perspective, for a second if you've. Got and you've signed in you're paying all. Of these songwriters, to write songs why, would you not have the artists, that are signed to your record label cut, the songs that are written by.

The Songwriters. That are signed to your same publishing, company, that. Way all of the money flows back, into one, spot, and again another. Example from. Their point of view why, in the world would, they want to cut your song and give. You a. 25%. Or 33%. Or, 50%. Stake, in the publishing revenue. And royalties of a song when, they can cut a song that, was written by one of their in-house, staff, songwriters. And they. Make all the money. Now. As a songwriter, that's depressing and you think oh well how do I ever have a chance that's what I'm trying to tell you those, chances, are slim to none the, record, labels, have. Closed, their doors to, independent. And outside, songwriters, because. Of the fact that the, music sales. Aspect, of it is not, generating. The kind of revenue, that it used to in the past that, money's not there, to go around anymore so the, record labels perspective, is we've got all of these signed songwriters. To our publishing. Company we're, going to use. Those songs we're gonna have our artists cut those songs because, that keeps the wheel turning that keeps all of the money funneling, back into one singular, location and, we. Can keep the ball moving why why. In the world have our artists cut a song from an outside songwriter, and share any part of that revenue, they're. Just not going to do it you. Know think about it in these terms I was thinking about this earlier thinking and this is a kind of off-the-wall thing, but I was trying to find a way to make this seek. In and, and get. You to get it try, this let's, say you owned a company and, your. Company. Built. Websites for, Pete that's, what you do so you as the owner of the company you. Go out and you hire, five. To ten other people, to work underneath you you go out and you. Sell these services, of building these websites, to, other companies and individuals. Well. Why, in the world when you've got five or ten people working for you and let's. Say you've got them on salary, so to build one website for a client it costs. You seven. Hundred and fifty dollars but you sell that website, for five thousand, why. In the world would you not, have the. People that work for you build, your websites and then, go outside, and hire somebody else that charges four thousand, dollars to, build a website that you can sell to a client, for five thousand, and only make a thousand, dollars that. Is, exactly, what's going on in the music business right now, it doesn't matter how good, your. Songs are, those. Of you that are listening that have never had a cut or never had a major cut on a major artist, let. Me tell you this and I'll be quite honestly because I work with so many of you I can tell you a lot, of your songs are better, than. What's being written by the staff writers at the major publishing, companies, they, just are they. Are better because over. What's going on over at Universal, and it's sony/atv and. Warner Chappell is they're putting all of these writers in a room with, one directive, and that is Right pop, bubblegum, country, songs that.

Are Are easy, to listen to easy, to repeat easy, to absorb for about two weeks and then they're on to the next one nobody's. Being tasked with writing great, or. Memorable. Songs so you've got all of these people in these rooms doing. The exact, same thing where you on the other hand you're out there thinking about writing a great song writing something that's that means something, to you and and, technically, writing, better, songs. But. Better doesn't matter anymore, I keep, saying that and people keep not listening, to me it doesn't matter that your songs are not as good what, matters is they can't make as much money using. Your song as they can with. One of their own, the. Second big problem that we're running into with the industry right now is the artists themselves have, closed their doors and they all have these camps, made up of between five and ten riders, that. They rely on that they write with or they only cut their material, it's it's it's, that whole insider, thing, of I'm. Creating. A wall around myself as an artist and I'm inviting, these five to ten people in and that's it. Because. I promise, if you go look at the album, cover of, in. The liner notes of any album, that you from an artist that you think is. What. You would like to have a cut on I guarantee, you you're going to find the same names as far, as songwriters are concerned on 75. To 80% of, that. Album if not a hundred, percent and now. All of the artists, are writing, well whether I do, writing, in air quotes most, of the artists are writing, themselves now, because, they've all signed, 360. Deals with the record label, it's. Another way for them to make money, because. They're not making you know they make so much percentage. Or points on a record every time a record sold records aren't selling so the artists, are in the same position as the record label. So. The only other way for this artist to make even more money is to be a songwriter on the. Song. Those. Are the two areas that you and, and. Obstacles. That you guys are up against right now number, one the, record, labels are cutting their own material. For. The simple fact that it's more economical, to do that and they. Make more money when they do the second, is that, artists, have their own camps, now they're not looking for a song from you they're looking for a song from people that are already, established, within. Their community, within their inner circle. Whether. It be because they've had success together, or whether it be in in, like take, Luke Combs for example, none, of the songwriters, that have written any of his hits to this point were necessarily, known, hit, songwriters, in town but they were his buddies, they're. The guys that he grew up with they were there with him in the beginning and he's one of these guys that's ultra loyal and he's going to stick, with the ones he's gonna dance with the ones that brung him and that's. Admirable. That's. Why I encourage, any new songwriter go and find an artist, to attach yourself to whether. They are you. Know small-time, medium, time on their way, attach. Yourself to an artist so that you are a part of that team, now the the, problem, that. Comes in with that line of thinking is that very few artists are actually. Like Luke Combs and they. Go any which way the wind blows and they, may work with you right now and then they will cut you off when big things start happening because. That's what labels do labels, want you to cut all of the fat they, want you to get rid of anybody that you have in an association, with that. Have an interest in you as an artist or they. Want you to get rid of those people so that they can implant, and place their own people in there again, so, that they make more money on their. Investment. Which, is you, the artist, so. This does create quite, a problem for. Songwriters, and. So. We enter back into, the. Issue at hand and. Because. Of all that the, last five six years we've, seen lawsuits.

From Songwriters. Suing major. Label artists, and and. Record. Labels and publishing companies, skyrocket. I, know. Of a couple offhand, that have not been made public but that are. It's. Just amazing, the songs were just outright, stolen. But. They're very difficult to win now. I don't know for a fact that this song was stolen, but I do know that they are extremely. Familiar and that Carrie, Underwood and her team had access, to this song they. Heard this song now, whether it's stuck in the back of their mind and it just happened to come out and influence, in the writing room without without, other things happening, does that happen yes, that absolutely. By mistake happens, I can't, tell you the number of times that. I've been in a writing room and we've been writing a song and we're like man this is really cool I really love that melody, and we're. Three hours into writing a song and somebody look up and, wait. A second, we're, on the same melody line as this, song over here we're like no, wonder we liked it so much. You. Know music is a thing it's, it's nobody's. Reinventing. The wheel here right there's only so many chords, there's only so many chord progressions, there's only so many words there's only so, many different, ways to tell the same story. So. Not every there's no song that you're ever gonna listen to that is completely. 100%. Unique ever. Because. We're not reinventing the wheel. But. In cases like this, I I. It. Just seems to me that the writers of Carrie, Underwood's, GameOn were. Extremely. If, not. Directly. Influenced. By hearing. This other song and if. That's the case then, it's not right to do what they've done they deserve to be sued or they. Need to attach the writers of the other song to, their version of the song, because. It's just to, me it's no different, than an. R&B, artist or urban artist sampling, a previously, released, song in their own they have to pay for licensing, for that they have to attach those as songwriters I think, it went and if I get this wrong I apologize because I didn't I didn't. Realize I was gonna talk about this but, so I'm not hundred. And ten percent prepared, but I'm almost positive that it was Thomas, Rhett that released a song. Last. Year of the year before and they used Earth Wind & Fire's, I think it was Earth Wind and Fire they, used sampled, some of their products, some of their music, and lyrics but, what they did was they went back and gave writing, credit on the new song to, all the members of Earth Wind & Fire and, then. They got the appropriate licensing. To be able to use those samples, that, is how you do it the right way that. Is making sure that you, are are everything's. Aboveboard your, best foot forward and you. Are covering. All of your basis. This. Is becoming a wide spread, problem. Less. Than a year ago and I think the suit is still going on unless it's been sampled, ed. Sheeran, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Are being, sued for a song that they wrote together. Because. Another writer in Canada, had written the exact, same song and pitched, it to them and they. Turned it down and now all the sudden you. Know Tim McGraw shows up for a writing session with, Ed Sheeran, and, you. Know this song just magically. Appears out of nowhere and there was an interview, with Ed Sheeran saying they wrote this song in 45, minutes. Now. Yes. It's possible for people to write songs in 45, minutes.

Unless. You've put a lot of work in up to that point with thinking about melody and thinking about hooks and thinking about lyrics, and all of that I find. It very hard to believe to be that creative in that short amount of time without. Being directly influenced. By something that's already stuck in your head now. There is an intent, aspect. To the legal part of this did, they intend. To rip, off this song in this, case with Carrie Underwood, did her and her team intend. To rip off this, other song game, on I don't. Know it's. Very tough, to prove. What. I want to get to as far as you guys that are listening and watching this podcast is, that. I know you want, to get your songs heard, I know, you want, to get your songs cut by major artist and make money and make a name for yourself but. Guys you have, to be so. Very. Careful. And, who. You play your music to I'll be honest with you one of the reasons I get asked all the time to do songwriter rounds and I, won't do them the only place I'll play is the. Bluebird Cafe, that's, it I do. Not go out and play rounds, anymore because. I don't want my material. That. Hasn't been cut yet out there, because it's, widely known other, writers, and producers go, to writers rounds and they listen to these songs and things that they find great, they. Get, influenced. By them, and I. Put too much hard work into, what I do for, somebody else to come along and. Steal. It from me or be. Influenced. By, me to, go off and create something on their own or just out now. Steal, it from me. So. Be careful I know that, you're eager I know that you're passionate and, I know that you want somebody out there pitching and plugging your songs but, you've got to be very difficult, yeah. I mean you've got you've got to be very vigilant about protecting. Your, songs and realizing. You know what you're, up against and I think when you think about in terms about what we've talked about today and. That. Is. Knowing. What. The possibilities, are and, keeping. In mind that it's easier, cheaper. And faster. For. An artist or record label to, steal or be. Influenced. By. Your material, than. It is to come up with something original. Creative. And, 100%. Their, own. Then. You need to realize what, you're up against. Think. About it like this if. The. Music business is anything. I think, we can all agree that, it's. Greed at its best and. Gordon. Gekko always said greed is good. Well. Greed is the underlying. Vessel. And vain. Is built. On that it thrives on and that. It lives on. Think. About things in that turn in those terms when, you're thinking about wanting to pitch this artist your material. You. Have to be prepared for that because. I don't want to see any of you in that situation, I don't want you to finally have. Written this song you've. Hired a song plugger or somebody to go out and pitch your material, and they're pitching out your songs and then seven months later you're driving down the road and you hear a song on the radio that sounds, a little all too familiar. Guys. It happens every, single. Day. So. I know what you want to accomplish I know what your goals are but you also need, to know what. You're, up against, how. The business, really, works you. Stand a much better chance, to. Find, an artist that you believe in and that you're passionate about former. Relationship with, that artist right with that artist, then. You do of writing. Songs and thinking you're gonna get outside, cuts because that is just not the way the business works anymore, I'm, sorry. To say that it's just not, if. You're. Not writing, for or, you're. Not a staff, writer for. The. Publishing, company, that is affiliated with the record, label that these, artists, are on your chance of getting a, cut on one of those artists, is less. Than 1%. Way. Less than 1%. You have, nothing, going in your favor. The. Only thing you're doing when you're pitching these. Record. Labels your songs the only thing you're giving them is. Material. To be, inspired. By. Because. If they hear something that they like they're. Gonna pass it on to their own riders, and say hey this, is a really cool idea why. Don't you and you and you get in a room and and come. Up with something similar to this. Because. The one thing you're never going, to overcome, is their. Need and desire, to make more money and the. Fact of the matter is is, they, make more money not. Involving. You not. Cutting. Your song, they. Make more money when it comes from within and that. Unfortunately is. The. New music, business model. Guys. Thank you so much for joining me for another episode, of, the, Steve Friedman podcast, I'm heading to the beach we are going down we're gonna have a great time but that, doesn't mean that the podcast, is going to be off next week I'm going to be shooting the episodes, live from. The beach and we'll. Be uploading them as always, available Monday, Wednesday. And Friday.

You're. Not following me across social media please do that it's at least Steve Freeman on all social media outlets, and if, you're listening to the podcast on, Apple podcast, please leave us a review give, us those five stars, but, also know that you can get the podcast anywhere, and everywhere you get, your audio podcast, and you can see the video version if you just want. To see my beautiful, lovely face then. You can do that they're always uploaded, to YouTube and twitch. As well. If you want to join the revolution which, is where this the topic for this whole thing started, you can join it at my website d Steve Freeman com or the Steve Freeman. Podcast.com. You can also join it from, any of the links in my BIOS on, social. Media, as well. Guys. As always keep, being creative, keep. Pressing the boundaries and there's. Nothing, wrong with. Being independent. See, in the next one.

2019-06-23 07:07

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Comments:

Thanks for watching and I hope to have provided a little clarity as to how the songwriting, publishing and music business work as it related to songwriters. Feel free to leave a comment and/or question here in the comment section! You guys rock!

Thanks for the professional insight once again. What’s the best way to help protect songs from being stolen? Should they be officially registered with the U.S. Copyright Office as soon as they are in a tangible form (demos) before any kind of casual circulation or local public performance?

Steve Freeman Yes, I guess there is only so much you can do. I’ve had songs stolen, titles and lyrics changed by former band mates in years past. Even on that lower level, it feels like a violation, but there wasn’t much recourse. Anyway, thank you for your response. I’m always listening.

the honest answer is there is no way to completely protect your songs. Sure you can copyright them, but just because you do that doesn't mean nobody would ever attempt to steal your song. You would still wind uo in a costly legal battle to get to the point to prove you have the copyright for a 100% original composition. The fact is that pro's know what they are doing. They know how to take something they hear and change it just enough to be considered an original composition. Like I said in the video, these lawsuites, even when warrented, are VERY difficult to win. The best way to be prepared is to know that the chance of this happening exists and be careful who you share your music with. Now I will say that taking all of the steps to try the best you can are very important. Register your songs with your PRO (Performing Rights Organization) and batch copyright your songs at the end of each quarter.

Steve, are you a Miranda Lambert fan?

Thanks for the insight Steve. always a pleasure to learn a bit more ;)

Thank you man!

She lost me for a few years, but the newer stuff I'm liking alot

Remember the lawsuit pitting the estate and family of Marvin Gaye against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke?

Trust me, I’m not wrong. Major labels and publishers have a direct relationship with the music supervisors, directors and producers with the production companies and film studios. They don’t use Taxi, they don’t have to. You can say anything you want to say on a website, the facts are facts though. Companies like Taxi are a scam. The only reason I have had so many songs placed in TV shows and films is because I’m represented by a major publisher.

is this why major labels, a & r's, publishers and producers place listings with companies like taxi and songlink, so they can find tracks to be "inspired" by?

@Steve Freeman thanks for your replies. i'm not a taxi member anymore. i think that, like you said, finding an artist to work with, someone with the potential of really getting somewhere is a much better way to go. or doing something that can go viral on youtube;-)

poppy paul I will concede that if they are, then the only reason they would be searching the Taxi database would be to find ideas they can steal :)

@Steve Freeman i think you're wrong, i've seen countless of major labels and superstars (at least that's what the listing says) on taxi looking for songs. however, i've never heard of a taxi member getting a deal with any of them, except one song with rascal flats many years ago. that's why i wonder why these companies bother to run these listings in the first place, if it's not just to steal ideas, or to be "inspired".

poppy paul the short answer is, yes, however no major labels, major publishers use Taxi. They are a service that is specifically for indie artists and songwriters who don’t have a major affiliation to get their songs placed for synch.

poppy paul they pay them to be associated with their brand. It’s just an endorsement deal.

​@Steve Freeman just one question. i'm curious...what are the general perception on companies like taxi in you professional community? if it's a scam, how come they're able to attract names like diane warren and kara dio guardio to their panel at the taxi rally? seems that taxi have a lot of successful members on film and tv stuff, but on recording artists it seems to be a different world...

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