I Want Cuts, But I Don’t Want To Give Up My Publishing!

Ask Your SWP

Today, I want to tackle a question I got from a Songwriting Pro / Man vs. Row reader.  If YOU have a question you’d like me to address in a future blog post, email me at brent@songwritingpro.com.  (I can’t get to them all, but I’ll answer your question here on the blog if I think it’ll help the Songwriting Pro community.  Oh, and I’ll leave your name out, so you’ll keep your privacy.)

QUESTION:

“…I don’t have any cuts, but I don’t want to give away my publishing. I feel the publishers work for the songwriters and should be given, if any, no more than 30%, which is the amount you’d give to a waiter/waitress. I know there are writers who keep all their publishing, and that it’s easier to get a song cut if you have a publisher. So I don’t want to come off as mean, impractical, or ignorant.”

ANSWER:

If you’re dead set on not giving away any publishing, you either need to do all the publishing work yourself or hire a good song plugger for a monthly retainer.

Expecting to sign a good publishing deal for only 30% is simply not going to happen- unless you get a bunch of cuts without a publisher and basically don’t need one.  Or if you write for them with ZERO advance/draw.  Meaning, they don’t pay you anything but the royalties your songs earn.  And maybe some demo expenses.  But even then, that’s a long shot.

With so many songwriters out there (many with cuts to their credit) who can’t even get deals or a co-pub, you simply don’t have the leverage.

Publishers usually do a few things in exchange for your publishing: 1) pay you up front (a draw or advance) so you can afford to write full time or thereabouts 2) they have connections you don’t have- and they leverage those connections to get your songs cut 3) they handle the licensing and other administrative paperwork 4) cover your demo expenses 5) fly your flag around the music biz- building your personal brand and helping you get cowrites.

That’s way more value than you get from a waiter.  (And I say that with love for waiters… I’ve been one!)

If you can handle that stuff without a publisher and actually BE your OWN publisher- rock on. If not, a pub deal may be a good idea. If you can get one (which is NOT easy.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please leave a comment!  And, again, if you have a question, email it to me at brent@songwritingpro.com.

If you want to become a songwriting pro (in how you think, write songs or do business), then a great place to start is RIGHT HERE.  I want to help you on your songwriting journey.  I’ve been in the music business for years, and I’m here to help you get the cuts – and avoid the bruises.  CLICK HERE TO START HERE.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

Man vs Row

 

40 thoughts on “I Want Cuts, But I Don’t Want To Give Up My Publishing!”

  1. 100% of nothing is nothing. 50% of something is money in the bank. I’ll take the pub contract please (in keeping with the waitress theme.)

  2. Half your publishing is 25% of the potential song royalties. You should expect to give that to any publisher pitching your songs and getting a cut. That’s a good deal even without a draw from the publisher. Why? They’re administrating for you also. If you are your own publisher and pitch a song yourself, you are still going to have to hire an administrative publisher to collect your publisher share of your royalties. You will pay between 15% and 25% for that. Your PRO will collect any performance royalties for you. So, you’re essentially paying a publisher 25% of the royalties from a song that gets cut for both pitching and administrating. That’s a good deal in my opinion.

  3. “It’s insanely difficult to get a cut in today’s market” Direct quote from a Hall Of Fame songwriter.

    Given that getting a cut with a major artist or any artist on a label is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome you don’t want anything to stand in the way of that and you should be happy to acknowledge the difficulty of it and willing to pay a premium for anyone who will go to bat to deliver a cut for you.

    Apart from yourself and your co-writers that’s your publisher and as someone already said 100% of nothing is nothing.

  4. Great info, thanks! I am wondering what percentage of publishing is reasonable to give up? Thanks so much!

  5. I publish and record my own songs. My problem is that I write traditional country. I go to pitches and occasionally get picked but I have yet to get cuts. My only cut was several years ago and the album flopped. Didn’t make a cent. I would be willing to share or give up publishing for a decent cut. I’m doing my best to keep traditional C&W alive.

    1. Thank you so much for your reply. That makes me think about things in a new perspective. Also, good luck to you – I hope you get your first cut soon!

  6. Good advice. Selling a song is like creating a new product. Who’s your market? How good is the product? What’s the competition like? You can sell it on a little stand by the side of the road and hope someone passing by will take notice, or you can hire a PR firm to publicize the product. Guess which one will most likely be successful? Good publishing companies, PROs, they all do a job to get you something back for your work, despite the cost. I would take a contract with a publishing company any day.

  7. So many writers don’t know how much work it is to pitch songs and to do all the administrative work the publisher has to do. That includes signing agreements, negotiate a licensing fees or upfront fees for a release, knowing all the legal stuff, and to make sure you get your performance royalties from your PRO, including sub-publishing entities. When you have done that yourself, you really appreciate and realize all the work behind even a smaller cut like in a background track in a TV show. Focus on your music instead!

    1. Songwriting is a business. You need to treat it as such. Fact number one is you’re going to give up publishing to someone for a major cut unless you’re the artist who wrote the song and is releasing it. If you’re strictly a writer you should never give up more than half your publishing to a publisher for a major label cut unless they are giving you a significant draw, paying for demos, administrating the song and both paying for and filing copyrights.
      You should expect to give up half your publishing to any publisher who gets you a major label cut, but no more if all they are doing is pitching and then administrating songs of yours that get cut. You can expect to for a give up publishing to a label for a single. How much is negotiable as is everything. If you’re getting a Luke Bryan single it makes more sense to concede a larger amount of your publishing than on a new unproven artist. Why? It’s going to be a top ten single or better and you’re going to make significant mechanical royalties. With a new artist you may not crack the top 40 and may make virtually nothing on mechanical royalties. Treat songwriting as a business because that’s what it is.

  8. Hi Brent.
    Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the publishing end of the business of songwriting. First, to me, the question in this article is more about education than the appropriate publishing percentage. The comparison of a publisher to a waiter made this happen for me.
    Secondly, for my business model, making the right publishing decisions are just as important as writing a great song. Neither one will do me any good without the other, therefore I need to know how to do both to be successful. So, my comments are more toward the education of publishing, if you don’t mind. I also need to note: my comments are based solely on my own personal education, with no prejudgment toward any other.

    I agree with Jeff Green, in the respect that songwriting is a business. My comments here are based on that very fact, treating my songwriting as a business. I believe that for every songwriter, the ways and means in which they run their songwriting business is of a personal and individual nature. But, as with every business, there are solid principles that must be applied to insure a business is a successful one.

    For me, learning the business end of songwriting, whether I intend to do it myself or hire someone to do it for me, is essential. This “some other person” could include an administrator, song plugger, publisher, etc. Any business decisions made, whether by me personally or by the person I hire, are my responsibility. If I do hire someone to do a part of my business, that is a huge business decision. And I need to make sure that decision is a good one for my business. My business’ success is directly related to and depends on how well and in what means that other person makes decisions for me.

    In order to make a responsible decision of who to hire for what, I need to know the why’s and what’s myself. How can I chose to hire someone that is good at the job they do if I don’t know what it means to perform that job well? How do I even know I need or want them to do that job if I don’t know how doing that job for me would effect my business? And how do I know how much their job is worth if I don’t know the job?

    For me, learning about publishing has to be at the top of my educational list. Again, whether I choose to do it myself or work toward being signed by a publisher, it’s in my best business interests to know exactly what entering into a contract with a publisher means.

    I think a lot of new, and maybe some not so new, songwriters see a publishing deal kinda like a great romantic relationship. If you’re lucky enough to get a publishing deal, you’ve made it. You are now credible and deserving of the music industry’s love and desire for your songs. Thing is, is that there’s no romance in that publishing contract. It’s all business. As it should be. A publisher can’t live off of romance. The publisher may love a particular songwriter’s style of writing, but unless the publisher believes that songwriter’s work can make money and is worth all the efforts the publisher will put toward making money with that songwriter’s work, there won’t be a contract. That’s just good, responsible business on the publisher’s end.

    The same holds true for me as a songwriter. I have to be willing to look beyond the romantic fog and educate myself on publishing, in order to make responsible decisions for my own business. Reputable publishers can be a great asset to a songwriter, if being signed is part of that songwriter’s business desire. For my songwriting business, as in any type of business, I need to know the pros and cons of signing with a publisher to know whether or not it’s best for what I want for my business.

    I read a lot about all the pros of signing with a publisher. Brent lists a lot of them here in his article. I believe most songwriters agree that a good publisher will work hard for a songwriter he or she believes in and the publisher’s efforts are well worth a fair pay and trade. But I don’t read so much publicly about the cons of signing with a publisher. And for some, these things are not cons at all, but just part of the process. But I believe knowing both sides beforehand is a responsible part of doing business.

    I think it’s great that a publisher will pay me to write every day. After all, that’s what I love to do. Write all day, every day. But, as a good business manager of my songwriting business, I need to know that the pay the publisher gives me is a draw against any songwriter’s royalties I may get while signed to that publisher. So, if that publisher is able to land a cut of one of my songs, I’ll most likely not see any songwriter royalties from it until my recoup-able draw is paid in full. Of course, every contract is different and could be negotiated different than this scenario, but through my personal education, this is what I find to be the norm.

    Then, there are the copyrights of all the songs I write while under contract. They will belong to the publisher. I will have no say so as to what is done with any of those songs. If I wanted to record one of those songs myself to my personal EP, I’d have to request a license from the publisher, because they own the exclusive copyrights. If they won’t give me license, then I can’t record it. I find this holds true with single song contracts, as well. Again, the details of the contract would determine whether the song’s copyrights are returned to the songwriter or not, after the contract has ended. But, I’ve not recently heard of any songwriter regaining ownership of a song’s copyrights under any circumstance.

    I’m not making judgment on any songwriter for either being self-published or working toward landing a publishing deal. But I am trying to make the point that first being educated on publishing will help to make much better business decisions for any songwriting business model.

    Personally, my business model does not include giving away my copyrights. But, that’s not to say one day a situation won’t arise to where I’ll make the decision to trade a particular song’s copyrights to better benefit my business. At the same time, my business model does allow room for trading a song’s publishing, in whole or part, for any publisher’s work I believe will benefit my business. The amount of publishing traded depends on what my business gets in return. To best benefit my business, I have to first know what is a good and fair trade, on both my and the publisher’s part, in that particular situation.

    As a matter of fact, I didn’t make any of the above decisions until after educating myself on the business end of songwriting. I can’t possibly make a responsible business decision without first knowing how that decision is going to effect my business model. Heck, I didn’t even know what having my personal business model meant or how to run it, once I knew what I wanted in one, until I learned the business end of songwriting.

    In saying all of this, I have to include that my education on the business of songwriting, as well as the craft, is of a continuing nature, throughout the life of my business. Therefore, my business model is always evolving and growing. Man v Row and Brent play a large part in my continued education in both the craftsmanship and business end of songwriting. For that, I am grateful and very appreciative.

    1. Hi, Anita. I can clear the air on some things you’re concerned with and give you my opinions based on experience and I’m sure Brent will do the same. First, it’s very hard to get a decent publishing deal now and it’s harder to keep it if you do get one. Let me explain. The draws they are giving writers are much less than that they used to be. If you’re lucky you’ll get $3,000.00 to $3500.00 a month and they will pay for your demos, copyrights, administration and pitch your songs. They will want all of your publishing and may ask for them to own the publishing for 2 years or longer even if they don’t get a cut. You’re going to be on a very short leash as far as your songs getting cut. With a few exceptions for cuts on artists who are still selling lots of units (like Luke Bryan) they want cuts that are singles (played on major market radio) . That’s the only way to make any decent money off of a song now. That’s not a very attractive business situation in my opinion. First, I think you are better off paying for your own demos and copyright registration, not taking a draw and only giving a publisher half the publishing for any major label cut. Also, you should have a reversion clause in any agreement with a publisher that all publishing returns to you in a year if they don’t get a cut. Never any longer than two years. Giving a publisher half your publishing (25% ) of the royalties for pitching and getting a cut is good business. Giving a publisher all of your publishing (50%) of the royalties for a low draw, paying for demos, copyright registration and pitching your song is a bad business deal. It is harder than it has ever been for most writers to get a single cut in Nashville. The odds are low. And publishers are quick to let writers go if they aren’t getting cuts. Let’s do some business math. Let’s say you write 12 truly great songs in a year that are better than what the established writers are pitching (That’s what it takes to get a cut). Your demo costs are $1,000.00 per song including the demo singer. Copyright registration is $40.00 per song. That’s $12, 480.00. Scenario one is you pay for your demos and copyrights and give the publisher half the publishing (25%) of the royalties for a song that is cut. They are pitching the songs for you and administrating the publishing if the song is cut
      Scenario two is they give you a monthly draw of $3,000.00 and pay for demos, copyright registration, pitching the songs and administrating your publishing on any cuts. You get lucky and get a Carrie Underwood single. It’s on an album that sells 1,000,000 units and goes number one on the radio. That song will generate royalties of at least $300,000.00. In scenario one you will keep $212,520.00. In scenario two you will keep $150,000.00. You gave away $62, 520.00 on that cut for a draw of $3000.00 a month and having them pay for your demos and copyright registration. That’s a lot of money

      1. Hi Jeff and Anita,
        One thing I’d point out in Jeff’s example is the a $3000/month draw is REALLY large these days. For new/young writers (and those without a current song on the radio), it’s more like 18-for-18. That’s $1,000 per month for 18 months (1st term). And that’s if you’re lucky. There are a lot of writers just signing demo deals. Meaning, they get $0 draw, but they get their demos covered. There are a lot of pros with cuts that can’t get a decent draw- or a deal at all.

        Times are tough out there, kiddos.

        1. I agree the $3000.00 a month figure is more than what many are offered. However, I based this on an actual offer. The offer in reality was actually $3500.00 a month on a one year contract. for 100$ of the publishing. The offer was declined. $3500.00 a month isn’t bad for a 21 year old writer. For others such as myself it’s not much money.

          1. Was this recently? ‘Cuz that’s a LOT these days. If so… congrats! (And, yeah. I can’t feed my family on that, either.)

          2. Yes. It was recently. What you get offered depends on how badly they want what you have. I’m not talking perceived writing ability. I’m talking existing catalog. Or I should say proven writing ability and existing catalog.

          3. Thanks, Brent. I have the benefit of age, experience and I’m in a better position financially than many writers, both established and aspiring. I can afford to pay for my own high quality demos, hire an administrative publisher, keep a music attorney on retainer
            etc. I also don’t have stars in my eyes when it comes to the business of music. Am I passionate about writing great songs? Yes. But, I treat it as a business, because that’s what it is. I know the lay of the land, if you will. I’ve seen and experienced both the highs and lows of being a writer with a publishing company.
            Something I’m certain you have experienced as well. The music business scene has changed dramatically in Nashville since the 1990’s. Not for the better in my opinion. However, it is what it is. One must adapt to those changes from both a writing and business stand point if they hope to have any success as a writer. And success means getting your songs cut and making a decent living. It’s harder than it’s ever been due to numerous reasons. I remember when good writers didn’t have to get a single to make decent money at writing. You could make it off of album cuts. The artists you can do that with today are very small in number. The public for the most part downloads the songs they hear on the radio. Artists like Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Kenny Chesney who generate significant mechanical royalties are the exception, not the rule. The music scene in Nashville is rough sledding.

  9. Hi Jeff.
    Thank you so much for your detailed information. I surely do appreciate your going to all this trouble to explain all that you have for my benefit. You’re very kind for doing so. I apologize if my post was misleading. My post was meant to make a point on the importance of education of the business side of songwriting, in order to make responsible business decisions. And I was trying to do so without being partial to either the self-published or ones looking for a pub deal.

    As a matter of fact I agree with a lot of what you say in your latest post. And if I were to work with a publisher on any songs, I’d more than likely go close to the route you detail in your scenario #1. One thing I’d probably do differently is register all 12 of those ‘great’ songs together, paying only the one fee of a single entry. And that’s if they still allow that. In the past I have done that with several songs at once, only paying what was then $35. I had heard the fee went up to $55, but if it is as you say, $40, that’s even better. And too, unless I know all 12 of those songs have made the cut on an artist’s album, I wouldn’t register them at all. My rule of thumb there is that until I know for sure the song is on the album, I won’t register it. Even with the artist taking the song to the studio is no guarantee the song will make the cut. And that’s a lot of money sitting with demos, money that I could use in places of immediate need.

    Truth is, my business model doesn’t include the main stream publisher for several reasons. One being, I don’t write what they are looking for…top 40 hits for radio airplay. And I say that, but give it wiggle room, because anything is possible. If one of my songs got to the right major artist, it could very well become a top 40. That’s assuming I have some great songs. 🙂 But with radio as it is today, that’s a long shot and I don’t depend on it or even work toward that without a great opportunity to do so. And as you so accurately stated, there are a lot of great writers already writing for Music Row publishers. My time is better spent focusing on the market/s that will purchase the type of music I write.

    My personal view on songwriting markets is that top 40/radio airplay is only one market available. And that market has plenty of songwriters already. There are many more markets out there where a songwriter can make a decent living, if he or she applies the necessary work to do so. In fact, I’m more of the type willing to make things happen for my business myself instead of waiting on and expecting someone else to make it happen for me. I don’t mind the hard work. It’s all going to take time and a lot of it. That time might as well be spent in the direction that’s better suited for my business model.

    I am very fortunate that I am able to work full time in my songwriting business. This gives me plenty of time to work and educate myself in my preferred business model of a do-it-yourself-er. It’s not for everyone, I know. But, I like it. I like being in charge of my own business and making things happen for myself. Not that I don’t work with others, because I do. That’s essential in any business. Just my business model is based on more of what I can do for myself. Being self-published doesn’t mean that I’ll not ever work with a publishing house at some point. I may very well need to do that at some point and time. Being self-published does mean though, I do a lot of educating myself on publishing and the business end of songwriting. This also gives me opportunity to work with publishers that are not main stream, who actively support self-published writers. And I like that, too.

    Again, I hate that my earlier post may have been misleading as to its intentions. But at any rate, I appreciate your information and time for my benefit. You are very kind to offer so much help.

    1. Anita, any way you can make money from your songwriting is what you should do. That’s assuming you don’t pass up the opportunity for a legitimate commercial hit for a much lesser opportunity. My focus is on writing songs for commercial cuts. Specifically songs that are worthy of being singles. And you are more than correct in that a writer needs to learn the business side of songwriting/publishing as much as they need to learn how to write great songs. Good luck!

    2. I agree about not copyrighting every song. I used to work in the admin department of a music publisher, and I’d keep the copyright form (and check) on my desk until the day the album was released. No release, no copyright.

      And, yes. If you want songwriting to be your business, it’s your business to learn publishing (whether you sign a deal or not).

      And I think it’s wise, Anita, to go where your art intersects with commerce. Not everyone should be aiming for top-40 radio. Many writers will be happier and more successful finding where they should aim, not where the “big money” is.

      1. Hi Brent and Jeff.
        Thank you both for your comments.

        In the relatively short 2 years I’ve been in Nashville, my focus has been on the study & practice of the craft, the business of songwriting, building a good network and learning where my work fits into it all. Finding my niche’, I suppose the latter would be called. So, I guess you could say I’ve been working toward taking advantage of my first real Nashville opportunity.

        As far as legitimate commercial hit opportunities, heck, for 1, I’m still wet behind the ears. (Something I hope to always consider myself in terms of learning.) And 2, there’s so many great writers already in that ‘hit’ circle, with a whole lot more clout & experience than an unknown as myself. Not that I don’t keep an eye to the ‘hit’ factor. Just I know it’s unrealistic, for me at this stage of my journey, to spend all my time trying to break into that circle. For me, what works best is that I work toward making opportunities happen for me outside that circle, while I build my clout and experience to be in that circle.

        During the past two years, I learned real quick that Nashville, although its population is large, the industry circle is small, kinda like a home town atmosphere. And good or bad, a reputation gets around quickly. Because of that, I decided to work toward building a reputation of good business rather than pitching sub-standard tunes. For me, it’s easier, and more feasible, to add to good reputation down the road than to have to clean one up.

        Thus far, this plan of action has worked out well for me, helping to keep my priorities in order. Choosing not to ‘pitch’ has helped me to stay focused on honing my craft to where, when the time comes to begin ‘pitching’ my tunes, (in whatever market), my time will be better served. I’ve been involved in a ‘somewhat’ kind of pitching session twice before, but only to get feedback on the tunes. I’m a big believer in pro feedback as a means of learning the craft.

        For anyone familiar with the Tortoise and the Hare fable, I am the tortoise. And proudly so. This year is kinda a new era for me. I will dip my toes into the publishing waters for the first time, with a self-released ‘artist-less’ project.

        I also refer to myself as a lifetime student of the craft. Working toward mastery, it’s my belief that I’ll always be learning. All the while I’m learning, I believe opportunities will present themselves. And because I’ve focused so much on learning, I believe I’ll better know the difference between opportunities that will & can move me forward and those that will only take up my time.

        Again, this is my chosen route. It’s not for everyone, but it’s real good for me.

        1. I think you’re being smart. The last thing you want to do is pitch songs that paint you as anything less than a pro writer. It’s hard enough as it is for a lot of very good pro writers to get a cut. And you have the right attitude about a lifetime of learning. You’re either growing or regressing. You don’t stay stationary as a writer or anything else for that matter.

  10. I have No problem giving publishing away. I have No problem selling songs, WFH, especially with hundreds of placements every year in TV (I keep the writers %). My admin skills are so bad, that, over the years, I’ve had to stop producing/creating/writing/practicing just to stay on top of pitching, encoding, distribution, PR, networking, connecting, scheduling, etc. I absolutely value the Admin team that can handle all that work. But give away Writing? THAT is an issue if you’re working in the TV/Film industry. Many producers/arrangers (not all – but they do exist) become greedy with the Master *And* expect to get half the writers. If you’re in LaLa Land, either split everything equally and work to a top standard, or have the funding to make every song radio ready. It’s all an investment, whether it’s time or opportunity.

    1. Publishing should be given for publishing work done. In my book that’s no more than half. The writers share should never be given to anyone . That belongs to the writer(s). And you should never give an administrative publisher more than 25% of the publishing. If you’ve had several songs cut and placed with an administrative publisher, that amount assigned to them should go down to 15%.

  11. Administrator deals and publishing deals are two different kinds of deals. If one is signed with a publisher, the publisher does the admin work. If a writer is self-published, he or she would hire an administrator when he or she is drawing enough in royalties to justify an administrator to take him or her on as a client. So, heck yeah. If I start getting 100’s of tv placements a year, you bet your tootin’ I’m gonna look for an administrative service. I’d hope at that point I’d be making enough in royalties to justify their services. Considering administrators charge around 10 – 15% of the royalties generated from the catalogs they take care of, I’m not going to have a chance of having that help til I start bringing in enough money to where 15% of that royalty money is enough to make their work worth while.

    If a song only brings in $100 in royalties, that’s only $15 to the administrator. That’s not enough to justify their work, (licensing, PRO collections, statements, etc.) for that song. So, they’re not going to take me on as a client. Of course, if the rest of my catalog brings in a much larger royalty per song average, that total amount may justify them taking me as a client. But $15 per song wouldn’t get me in their door.

    In reality, if I plan to be self-published or look for a publishing deal, I have to do all the paper work myself in the beginning anyway. Most likely, an unknown songwriter’s first cuts are going to come from film/tv or indie cuts, before they are signed to a publisher, (if they get a deal). And those little bits of cuts aren’t going to generate enough royalty to justify an administrator for a self-published writer. So, a songwriter still needs to know the business of songwriting, regardless. But when the time comes, it makes perfect sense for me to hire an administrative service. I’d much rather be doing creative stuff than paper work. Ugh. 🙂

    1. Anita, you’re correct in what you are saying. If you are ony receiving royalties of $100.00 or so per song, then you need to do everything. However, let me say this. Songs placed with major films or on a tv network including cable, pay much, much more than that. I’m talking shows. Music or songs used for ads can pay $1,000.00 or more. Films can pay $100,000.00. The lowest royalty situation I can think of would be a cut by one of the millions of indie artists out there selling 5,000 units or less per year with no radio airplay. That and local plays.

    2. And yes, I don’t know any writer who likes the administrative side of the song writing business. The mind set required to be very good at writing songs and essentially being an accountant are polar opposites.

  12. I really havent thought about thinking about giving away publishing , I’m still trying to write a great song
    Thats takes all my energy

  13. What if you write for a publisher, with no draw, no paid demos but they give you a place to write and introductions to other writers and you, yourself get a major cut without their assistance? What type of percentage should that publisher get?

    1. Did you write the song with a cowriter they introduced you to? At their place? Do you already have an (verbal or written) agreement in place? If there’s no agreement, you should be legally in the clear to keep all your publishing. But you want to think about the long-term value of this publisher relationship. Did they pitch this or other songs? Have they talked to you about a staff deal? Man, there are a lot of moving parts to that situation. I went through something kinda like that with an early cut. It took a whole lot of prayer to come to the answer. But my answer may not be your answer, ya know?

      1. They didn’t introduce me to the co-writer (knew ’em before) and have not pitched the song. They did however, at the beginning of our relationship, give me business cards with the title “staff writer” on them to pass around to get other writers into the office (reiterating, no draw, and no paid demos. I do all my own demos, for them for free). There has never been an agreement in paper. I think I would give them a percentage for the writing guidance and to admin the copy-write but don’t believe they are entitled to 100% of the publishing.

  14. As far as having any pulling power as a songwriter, here’s a thought: Say the next Jim Weatherly or William Pharrell walks into a publisher’s office, by appointment of course, and literally plays for the publisher 2 or 3 or 4 songs that are going to be future monster hits, all top 5 songs and the publisher can tell from one listen: the songs are that good and the publisher has the same excitement the songwriter has! So, he’s not going to be willing or fair in taking only half of the publishing? He’s still going to want all publishing? Since it’s so so hard to get hits, why not totally knock the publisher out of his chair with your first ever pitched songs to him? The guessings already over! The publisher is super excited. You just brought him more than 1 monster hit. And he knows he can get them cut. The songs are that good!! He’s not going to bend to take only half of publishing? Another great reason to write only monster hit songs that gets the ball rolling for everyone quicker! I want to do that as a writer. It cuts through the more difficult circumstances in today’s market of getting hits secured. I feel I have those type quality hits now in my possession as a songwriter. And I’ve soaked it in prayer for years. The titles are so commercial and unique I can’t pitch them on my own, as someone would surely more than likely, eventually, rip the titles off. Any publisher out there for me who truly believes and trust in God and is honest absolutely in his dealings? I’m sure there are some! Need to meet you. To give you an example of how good of titles I come up with, not boasting, I wrote songs years ago never pitched and never shown: “God Gave Me You”, “Loving You Is Fun”, and “Stay Gone”, just to name a few of my many, viable, hit titles -Chuck

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