If you enter into a publishing agreement which says the publisher shall keep your songs in “perpetuity” it might not actually mean forever. It could mean…only 35 years. I know what you’re thinking. 35 years? That will never come! Songwriters operate in a state of arrested development. We don’t believe we’ll ever grow up so why worry about it? I can assure you, the future always comes. We’re living in it. So listen up!
In light of Spotify coming to the table and negotiating a more equitable distribution of income with the songwriting community, Michelle Lewis and I, after receiving personal invitations, decided we’d go to the awards show this year. She called a babysitter, I got eyelash extensions, and off we drove to the Ace Hotel for what turned out to be an interesting evening…
For so many years I made a living as a professional songwriter who only wrote songs for others to sing. That’s been great. But now I’m yearning to re-connect in a more personal way with my love of that 3 minute enigma that got me hooked in the first place. It had nothing to do with getting signed or making money but with the euphoria I felt expressing myself on my own terms.
Inquiring minds have been inquiring and the answer is yes. Meredith Brooks and I received co-writing credit on Bebe Rexha’s “I’m A Mess.” The writers, Justin Tranter, Jussifer & Bebe herself, felt the hook on Mess had enough of a likeness to “Bitch” to offer up a piece. Most writers would have gone into denial and skipped merrily along onto their next co-write.
There’s plenty of talk about how the music business is thriving and worth billions. It's all true except that those billions aren’t making their way to the pockets of the writers who create the product that make a music business possible.
When it comes to the MeToo movement, Songwriters are not immune. As sole proprietors and small business owners, we are currently unable to unionize. We have no HR departments, no sexual harassment protocols, no real recourse. We only have each other. So where does a female songwriter (or artist or composer or producer) go when a line has been crossed? SONA is stepping up.
I love these young faces. College campuses. Skateboards. Limitless possibility in the air. I want to be part of the movement that helps make those possibilities possible. Perhaps it’s a different road than I traveled but even a detour should eventually lead to the same bliss, sense of accomplishment and livelihood.
Every party involved in the process of getting a song to your ears should be compensated. We’re nothing without each other. The songwriter, the record label, the delivery platform, the technology. The imbalance of royalty distribution is the result of archaic music licensing laws that are no longer relevant. Imagine how workable things would be if we had some new laws.
Kelly Clarkson refuses to take writing credit when she didn’t participate in writing a song. Imagine that. Sometimes she even refuses when she did participateif she feels her contribution was minimal. How we wish there were more of you.
There is much work to do and it’s not going to be easy, but if we don’t try we can forget the idea of a next generation being able to make music and earn a living like many of us did. And then music will be written by amateurs, imposters, and the uninspired.
I’m happy here on planet digital where I get all the songs I want whenever I want them, wherever I go. I simply want my community to have as healthy an earning trajectory as the CEOs and label heads who are running their companies on the backs of the creators who write the songs that make their business possible.
Songs got put on and taken off of H-O-L-D all the time. No one was immune. No matter your status. Even if you won a Grammy. Soon it would just roll of your shoulder. You’d dust yourself off and write another song.
The streaming revolution has been a gift to users. We can access as much music as we want, whenever and wherever we want it. For ten bucks. And, we can put our selection back on a shelf and opt for something else if for any reason we aren’t satisfied. That’s a pretty good deal. One would think that for an all-you-can-eat buffet, the value of music would have risen, not declined.