Major Labels

Music Publishers Demanding 360 Rights From Artists

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Music Publishers Copy Major Label 360 Model

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?

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  1. ““A home run for us is signing a writer who is a producer and has direct access to [other] artist[s].”
    (Having therefore done all the work we used to have to do.)
    Seriously, are these guys just turning into collectors of ‘sure things?’

  2. If the labels/publishers could find another way to be making money (ie ISPs) then we wouldn’t have this problem. Seems like they think constricting the rights of the artist will make them more money.

  3. There’s less reason these days to sign with a publisher anyway.
    In the past a publisher might give an advance based on anticipated earnings (usually as a result of a pending or anticipated label deal or because the publisher has hired you as a staff song writer), so you signed a publishing deal because you got substantial money upfront or a guaranteed salary cranking out songs for them.
    But now that there are fewer label deals and there are fewer staff writers hired by publishing houses, the opportunity to collect a big advance isn’t there. Plus many of the money-marketing opportunities that publishers might have been able to offer in the past (like getting your music licensed for sync deals) have become financially less rewarding.
    So if the publisher isn’t going to be able to make you money, you might as well be your own publisher and hang on to your rights.

  4. I can understand them wanting to be greedy, but do they realize this does not make sense..from their perspective? Let’s look at the scenario. The days of getting signed off your demo are just about gone, so now you have to have some buzz. I have that buzz, I secured a label deal and you come chase me, but then tell me I have to renegotiate my deal, so you can get your greedy hands on more of my income.
    Um, what label – with them having taken a chunk on a 360 deal deal basis, is going to allow you to renegotiate your deal? Since when could a new artist go up to their label and say, hey I need to renegotiate that contract we signed last week? Heck, once they get his signature, Bruce Springsteen couldn’t pull that off. So this is fantasy.
    Also, a record label is involved in other aspects of your revenue stream, then can help coordinate your touring etc, so I could see where they get the audacity to try to claim some of that income. How does a publisher figure they have a right to it. Unless you’re offering ten million up front, a publishing deal is not a must take for an artist. Hopefully, they all have good counsel that will tell them to reject the deal. Its not gonna work. Their greed will cause them to lose out.
    This is all just copycatting. EMI has tightly integrated its publishing division with its label and now calls itself a multiple rights organization and I guess others are looking at it with envy. Warner, if as a label you want to do 360 deals, cool, but your publishing company can not make these type of demands, especially from people that have already signed record contracts.

  5. Don’t cry about it. Nothing can beat a good song. The public audience is who rules the air, not these goons. Pick up your boot straps, write long and hard and it will pay off. Gain fans with your sincerity and truth. Believe in yourself and your music enough that other people have no choice but to be infected with your passion. If you do this your audience will give the publishers and people in high places of power no choice but to play your songs on the radio, in movies, and on television. Crying about it is a waste of time. I hope that this is the last comment on this thread because it’s 2010, we’ve been having this conversation for 20+ years. Lets spend our time on more productive things, like writing. If you’re passionate, some person in a suit cannot stop you. Only you can. A 360 deal isn’t all bad. Is your career about making a few more points per dollar or sharing your passion with the world? If you eat every day and have a place to rest your head and the ability to live comfortably all while living daily in your passion then what do you have to be worried about? Play on.

  6. There’s even less reason for an artist to sign a 360 deal with a publisher than with a label.
    Why should an artist give up any additional rights to a company that has no ability to leverage them?

  7. Wow. Yet another discouraging move from the major music world. Frankly, I don’t understand why this should even be necessary for publishers. In theory, they should be better of than the labels to begin with because their income sources were always far more diversified. They don’t need to just rely on record sales and there are countless new income sources related to publishing: streaming services, mobile, possibly digital public performance eventually, etc. I agree with James’ point too about the label deals. How can you possibly have a 360 deal from a publisher and a label. Better question, how is it possible that artists can get screwed over even more than the old model?

  8. Take a tip from Walt Disney and hang on to all your rights. It took 78 years but the Disney corporation finally got the rights to Oswald The Rabbit back in 2006. Disney’s very first lesson was a hard one and took a very long time to rectify but he learnt that lesson very quickly and never looked back.
    A while back at the Amsterdam Dance Event, A major US publisher presenting at a panel openly admitted that their systems could not keep up with the digital delivery of music and they were still missing a large chunk of the digital revenue that their artists were owed, and their systems had no way to collect it, and now they want more of your piece of the pie to mishandle. Hmmm.

  9. And now… Who believed that they are “protecting” artists right anyway…
    In Turkey now they started to ask the same amount of money as labels for a single stream. They are trying to kill the digital also like they did with phsical products…

  10. It simple: Kiss my ass. Don’t give these suits your power. And if you do, don’t complain.

  11. We all find it sickening that artists rights are being taken for granted and yet the vast majority of us still download music illegally… Somethings gotta give or things fall apart #mytwofavoritemaxims.

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