Copyrights, I say? Yes. Made easy, I say? Yes.
Between my first two solo albums (“Phase 1 – Neolyrical” and “Phase 2 – Lyrics to an Identity“) and the one I just released, “Phase 3 – L.Y.R.I.C.A.L. Without Fear“, there was a five year gap, 2005 to 2010. Of course, within that gap, so many things have come to the internet, including ways to make it easier for us at-home musicians/hobbyists/aspiring musicians. From a marketing aspect, you have MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter for your social networking, and you also have internet radio stations like Jango and Last.FM. Even Performance Rights Organizations like BMI have ways to register music online.
Recently, ADM told me about this one site called Pump Audio who offers services in getting your music to filmmakers and such who need music. Basically, there’s licensing involved, and you get a cut of the royalties when someone decides to use your music for their project. Not a bad thing, right?
I have read about the positives and negatives about sites like Pump Audio. Some talk about the royalties split, some talk about whether or not they give you the exposure that you expect, and some even say that they take your music and try to repackage it. That last one is the scariest. Money to me isn’t that important, since I have a full-time job that pays ok. Exposure, well I can take any exposure I can get. As far as repackaging it, although only 1 or 2 claim that and it was never truly proven, that scares me a lot.
With that story told, you should now know why I’m now talking about copyright, and hoping that this post will give people some insight on what they can do for copyright. I’ll be updating this post with some more information to make sure I’m 100% accurate, as what is a resource when it’s not fully reliable?
FRIENDLY REMINDER: You copyright music. You don’t patent or trademark music.
To start off, copyright law says that if you made it and it can be shown, you own it. (See the When is my work protected? question in the government’s copyright official copyright section)
That’s quite easy to say, but unfortunately, that’s hard to prove in court.
Secondly, let’s address the “Poor Man’s Copyright,” which basically is the method of mailing your work to yourself and using the postmark as proof. The copyright site debunks that as well since there are ways to presend an envelope then put the materials inside. So no go with that. (See the I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it? question in the government’s copyright official copyright section)
The best way, albeit a little pricey, is to go with the REAL, AUTHENTIC copyright. Meaning, you go straight to the government and submit your music to the Library of Congress. If you’ve got the certificate of copyright, you’re good to go in court.
Back in the day, (sounding like an old man, yet not at or above the age of 30), there were different forms you had to fill out if you wanted to do it the right way. Those familiar with the process know of forms like the SR form, or the PA form. You would pay $45 and submit your music on CD along with the proper forms. Like doing your taxes, different forms were used for different situations, and you really had to read the print to know what’s going on. It would get confusing also. One of the biggest questions for me was, do I need to send $45 per song? I have a 16 track album, so that means I have to shell out more than $700 just to copyright an album?
Well the answer to this is yes and no, depending on what you’ve got. If you are the sole writer/performer of all the songs, you could actually submit one CD with all the songs, and only have to pay $45 once. Good deal, right?
If you’re like me though, that won’t work. Half of my songs are collabs on my albums, usually. Since I’m not the sole writer/performer, you can’t submit just once. You need to submit each song separately due to the spread of copyright between different writers/performers.
Examples are on this page. Scroll down to see the examples.
Then there would be the long wait time, because you’d have to mail it, wait for them to receive it, and then wait for your certificate. One thing to note though, YOU ARE PROTECTED THE MINUTE THEY’VE RECEIVED IT. So when you mail, you would attach a return receipt, and you can deem the song as properly copyrighted once you get that receipt back acknowledging that they’ve received the package on whatever date.
Since the last time I’ve had my hand on this, the copyright office has done two things that have made this easier.
The first is now there is only one form: The CO form. Great!
And as an allusion back to my whole 5 year gap and the internet thing, the copyright office now allows ONLINE SUBMISSIONS, or what they call the eCO. The price of submitting an eCO is $10 lower, probably because of smaller admin costs. You can peep here if you want to see what’s up.
So with all that, we musicians can now do our copyrighting online!
I just tried it, and I submitted two songs up on one CD (both solely mine), and coincidentally the same songs I’m going to use for Pump Audio. It was very easy to do. I signed up, filled out the online form, paid through their ACH/Credit Card system, and submitted the mp3’s. Can’t really get much easier than that.
Now that I know they’ve gotten my payment and my mp3 submissions, I can consider those two songs copyrighted! They’ll be sending me the certificate after going through the processes. I can now send to Pump Audio without fear of them stealing stuff and not having any protection.
Hopefully that helped you out, if you wanted to know anything about copyright. I’ll be studying this more to see if I can add in some more useful info.
And as far as Roll Call ’10 info, aside from the work previously announced, Brian Bullion’s submission looks like it will be an Incubus style track, and ADM is submitting a rap beat (yes, a rap beat!) for use in the compilation. People are leaving their comfort zones to mix stuff up. Let’s see how this all goes down!
More to come, as always! Keep it locked.