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It All Begins With A Song
How a Sound Choice karaoke disc is born


Songwriter -- the very lifeblood of the music business and one of the most lucrative aspects of the music industry. Writing one song that becomes a standard (Willie Nelson's "Crazy") would set you financially for life if you did not sign your rights away (like the Beatles or any group of the Sixties). The songwriter needs the publisher for several reasons. They hope the publisher collects, distributes and administers all royalties to him from: live performances of the writers song(s), radio airplay of his song, jukebox collections, sale of albums via an artist, TV rights, commercial rights (Nike, Coke, Reebok) derivative works (parodies, Muzak and other variations) and now Karaoke licenses. A publisher's second job is to place a songwriter's song with an artist or use.  A publisher tries to match an artist's personality with the songwriters' tunes. This is what is known in the industry as "shopping a tune." (Amy Grant would not sing a song titled "The Horizontal Boogie") Enforcement of the songwriters' catalog of copyrights is also one of the publishers' duties.

Where friction is caused between the writer and publisher is the age old battle of art verses commerce or the commercialization of art. Most artists seek a publisher with common ideologies. Examples would be "make money anywhere, anytime, anyway" philosophy or "my songs are sacred and no one gets them" school of thought. Finally, my songs are gifts from heaven and should be shared by all, free of charge.

ASCAP - BMI - SESAC -collect performance royalties. This is one of the most misunderstood areas for KJ's. Any bar or club that plays any kind of music whether it be a jukebox, live band, radio or Karaoke host must pay a fee for the use of music in a public place. If the club has no music then the KJ or club owner must work out a deal as to who is going to pay the fees for the license of the bar or club. Other examples where fees would be collected: coliseums, arenas, stadiums, TV stations, Radio stations, restaurants night clubs, bars, music on hold, buildings that have piped in music (Muzak), malls, talent shows, airplanes, hotel/motel, aerobic clubs/health clubs, Circus's, educational institutions -- anytime music is used for public performance.

There are generally three types of ways to collect: Blanket license for most buildings and fixed installations of music playback equipment where there is a commercial use. Per Event/Use for one time shows or events. Reporting, Audits, and Monitoring which is generally used in the radio and broadcast industries. Sound Choice does not have to pay any of these royalties. 

Songwriters affiliate with one of these organizations to collect performance money. These groups do not collect for the sale of any product.

Remember, the physical product (CD, cassette, videotape etc.) and the intellectual material (performance) are two different things.

An analogy would be a book is just paper, but take thousands of words arranged a certain way and you get a scary Stephen King novel.

Sound Choice deals strictly with those royalties that make up our product. We are not concerned about performance royalties. We need to be granted different licenses to make up our  different products.

Mechanical Rights- a license fee - a flat fee called the Statutory Rate set by the Copyright Royal Tribunal (US Government) that sets the rate (currently at .075 per song per copy) for every time a song is "mechanically fixed" in a medium ( i.e. CD, CD+G, records, cassettes, video tapes etc.).  The main clearing house for mechanical licenses is the Harry Fox Agency in New York City. Harry Fox is not a living person.

Compulsory License- If a publisher does not wish to "participate"  in the licensing of the song, you can record their tune and  "force" them to take the money by filing for a Compulsory License. With this type of license you must report accounting once a month as opposed to quarterly with Harry Fox .

Reprint Rights- are requested directly from the publisher who controls the copyright. These organizations may be large and well known or in the back of someone's trailer. Sound Choice tries to include lyrics for each of its songs. Lyric licenses are for the words only and not the musical notation or notes found in music books. Those are standard musical notation reprint rights and are different from just having the words.

However not all of our product receives reprint licenses. We may not be allowed to use them (some Disney or ABKCO), or one writer may hold out on his share of ownership of that song (Jackson Browne - Take It Easy) or are to expensive to use (Clint Black written songs) or they hate Karaoke and do not wish to be associated with the format (Gloria Estafan, Andrew Lloyd Webber). These lyric licenses may be granted or rescinded at the will of the songwriter at any time. Getting the lyrics in the catalog one time does not mean it will always stay. Likewise a songwriter may change publishers or publishers may buy or sell a writers catalog. The ability to deny or receive a lyric request sometimes moves with a writers publisher.

Synchronization Rights- Using visuals or graphics with the music. In the sense of CDG it is a mechanical and reprint right all in one. Sound Choice will probably go directly to each publisher to ask for this permission. We will pay an advance against future sales as well as a fixing fee which allow you to "affix" the music with the visuals. MTV, movie scores and movie soundtracks and Karaoke LD's are clear examples of synchronization use.

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