Music publishers were once thought of as safe havens for artists. They nurtured songwriters, introduced them to the industry and sought ways to broaden their income with covers and placements. Now, it appears that they want more - a lot more - than a piece of the act's publishing in exchange for their efforts.
At a recent Association of Independent Music Publishers luncheon at LA's House Of Blues, a panel of business affairs execs made it clear that now music publishers are demanding additional rights akin to major label 360 deals when signing new artists.
Panelists including David Lessoff (New West Records), Alan Melina (President New Heights Ent.) and Greg Saunders (Warner Publishing) shared a variation of common message according to those present: "If you plan on signing with us, make sure you come with all your rights intact."
What they said:
- Melina: “If the artist already has a [label] deal we basically say you have to re-negotiate so you can give us the 360 rights so we can up stream them to [our sister] major."
- Lessoff: “If an artist already has his publishing tied up and then there is only those shiny disks to bring in revenue the deal is not as good for us."
- Saunders: “A home run for us is signing a writer who is a producer and has direct access to [other] artist[s]. The self contained singer/songwriter is still possible but difficult."
But how many rights does one artist have to give? And who - if anyone - should they share them with?