Some people believe that the most important thing an artist can do is “create or write” a song. While the quality and content of a song are extremely important, it would be a “great tragedy” if an artist did not at least “own” his or her song. Some people can ask, “How can something like that happen?” Just ask Paul McCartney from the Beatles. From the 1960’s to the present, the Beatles songs are getting played somewhere everyday and someone is getting paid each time that happens. The sad part about it is that it “isn’t Paul,” who actually “wrote” a lot of the songs with John Lennon. When they were young, the group signed a really bad publishing deal and ended up not even owning the rights to their own music. At one point, Michael Jackson, who was a friend of Paul’s before he died, joked with him and literally “told” him that he was about to buy the rights to his music. Paul didn’t think much of it then, but clearly was upset when he found out that Michael actually “did” purchase the royalty rights to his songs. That is why it is always important for an artist who composes music to “copyright” his or her material and have publishing rights. If the song (or songs) become popular enough, you can get paid money while you sleep. Here are some of the ways an artist can make money:
Chubby Checker (The man whose claim to fame rose from the “Twist” once told me that he thought he should get paid royalties from the song since he is the one who is making it popular now. The problem is that Chubby was not the original writer of the song nor was he the first to even record it. That honor went to Hank Ballard. Chubby gets to perform the song, even though every time he does he has to pay money to the actual copyright owners. Jeffrey Osborne wanted to do a remake of a Teddy Pendergrass song “Close the Door.” When I was performing with Teddy in Detroit on the same bill as Jeffrey, he saw me and asked me to take him to Teddy so that he could get “permission” to do the song. That’s because the owner of the song “has” to get paid when someone else records or performs their music. I heard Jeff’s version actually “play on smooth jazz stations” and I was happy to know that I helped make that happen. It is important for an artist to know details of how the music industry works. Otherwise, you may find yourself making a “lot of money” with your artistry… for “someone else.” If you don’t know what to do, then hire a good lawyer who can tell you, but it is extremely important for you have the rights to your own songs. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always, I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
Chubby Checker and Brett Jolly