#1
Hello,
I have written all the songs I want on our album. What now? What legal steps should we take as we record and release our album? I don't want to miss doing something, and then lose out majorly because of it. So please help me.
#2
If you haven't already get them trademarked or atleast burn a cd and mail it to yourself in an envelope if you can't afford trademarking. Just as a proof of date to back yourself up should you ever find yourself in a situation where someone tries to steal or completely rip off of a song you have proof you wrote it.
"[Bleach] is mostly water, and we are mostly water, therefore we are bleach"

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#3
Quote by soulsablaze
If you haven't already get them trademarked or atleast burn a cd and mail it to yourself in an envelope if you can't afford trademarking. Just as a proof of date to back yourself up should you ever find yourself in a situation where someone tries to steal or completely rip off of a song you have proof you wrote it.

Assuming you mean copyrighting, I thought that you should wait until you've recorded the album so you can copyright the recordings as well as the album in one go. Is this correct?
#4
If you do the "mail to yourself" make sure that it is by registered mail. That way there is no dispute the exact day that the contents of the package were mailed.
Satan. Grant this man the gift of revenge against his foes at the Food Network.
#5
Quote by getmad24_7
Assuming you mean copyrighting, I thought that you should wait until you've recorded the album so you can copyright the recordings as well as the album in one go. Is this correct?


I did mean copyright my bad

You can do it like that. If you plan on releasing a song or two before the album is finished recording (Ex. Youtube) make sure its copyrighted. As long as you have proof that you're the one who wrote it you should be just fine.

And don't sign anything without having a lawyer who has more experience in music business than your typical lawyer. A band from my home town was starting to make some headway in the music scene and got shot down by signing dumb stuff and ended up in debt.
"[Bleach] is mostly water, and we are mostly water, therefore we are bleach"

I feel we should go to...

Purple Alert
#6
Quote by soulsablaze
I did mean copyright my bad

You can do it like that. If you plan on releasing a song or two before the album is finished recording (Ex. Youtube) make sure its copyrighted. As long as you have proof that you're the one who wrote it you should be just fine.

And don't sign anything without having a lawyer who has more experience in music business than your typical lawyer. A band from my home town was starting to make some headway in the music scene and got shot down by signing dumb stuff and ended up in debt.

What would I be signing? Most of the legal work we have to do will have to be made by the band, I figure, so we'll have to put it together ourselves. Obviously I'll sign what we get together, but I think I'll be able to trust that, aha. Or am I just naive ??

How much on a rough average will we need to spend on a lawyer do you think? We're obviously trying to keep the costs down as much as possible, but I don't want to cut a corner and really suffer for it.
#7
We have a copyright sticky up top which should help.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#8
Quote by soulsablaze
If you haven't already get them trademarked or atleast burn a cd and mail it to yourself in an envelope if you can't afford trademarking. Just as a proof of date to back yourself up should you ever find yourself in a situation where someone tries to steal or completely rip off of a song you have proof you wrote it.


It's important to realize that the whole "mail it to yourself" thing is pretty much useless.

The problem is that what you have is, basically, not compelling in a court of law. Why? Simple - because you mailed it to yourself and it's pretty easy to fake that (either mail yourself an empty envelope then smear it, fake the postmark, steam the envelope open, whatever). Meanwhile, real copyright is cheap enough that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense why you'd go through a lot of convoluted steps when you could just give the copyright office a small check.
#9
Quote by AlanHB
We have a copyright sticky up top which should help.

Copyright isn't my main concern, but everything else legal surrounding the album

I do intend to properly copyright it once we have the recordings completed. Would I also be able to copyright the album art with the music all as an album of works or whatever they call it? Or would art need to be done separately?
Would it be possible to make a simple release form giving me rights to a photo for the album cover, or would I need a lawyer even for that do you think?
#10
Quote by getmad24_7
Copyright isn't my main concern, but everything else legal surrounding the album

I do intend to properly copyright it once we have the recordings completed. Would I also be able to copyright the album art with the music all as an album of works or whatever they call it? Or would art need to be done separately?
Would it be possible to make a simple release form giving me rights to a photo for the album cover, or would I need a lawyer even for that do you think?


Break it down.

- Each song has two coponents. Lyrics and musical stuff (melody most of the time). For each song decide within the band who will be credited. Register the songs with the relevant agency after.

- Album art. Also copyright. Decide who gets credited. Register with the relevant agency.

- If there are covers, royalties will have to be paid. Enquire with the relevant agency.

I don't think you'll need a lawyer to simply register (or mail copyright) these things. Yes each separate piece of art is done separately. If you didn't take the photo yourself you can pay them for full entitlements to their work, it's usually included in the price of paying a professional artist to do such a job.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#11
A few things you should do:

1. Register songs with your country's Performing Rights Association. In Canada, it's SOCAN, but I don't know where you are. This will ensure that you get paid if you get played on commercial radio or television. In Canada, a single play of a 3:30 song on a fairly major commercial radio station is worth about $1.50. TV pays by the second, so often winds up being more. (Music video stations don't count, though... your "video" is classified as a "commercial for your product." The good news is that THEY don't charge YOU for running your music commercial.

2. Register your songs with your country's Reproduction Rights association. In Canada, it is the CMRRA, but again, I don't know where you are. This will ensure that, if anyone wants to cover your song, or use it in a movie or whatever, that you will be paid for it.

3. Put a copyright symbol with the date on the packaging of your CD.

4. If you are Canadian, be sure to include the MAPL logo. This will flag your material as "Canadian Content." This matters because the CRTC (government media regulator) says that Canadian radio and TV have to include a certain amount of Canadian Content. As I understand it, many other smaller countries have similar policies. (Geographically, Canada is second in the world to Russia, but population-wise, has slightly less than the state of California....)

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#12
So here's what I've got so far.

Copyright all songs and art
Credit who wrote what for each song
Acquire rights to the album cover image
Register with a Reproduction Rights association
Register with Performing Rights association

Is there anything else that should be done? Which of these will require a lawyer, and what could we get by with ourselves?

I'm in the US by the way!
#13
You don't need a lawyer for any of that stuff.

Also, in Canada, all published artistic works are required by law to be sent to the National Archives. See if that's the case in the US also. I bet it is.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#14
Quote by axemanchris
You don't need a lawyer for any of that stuff.

Also, in Canada, all published artistic works are required by law to be sent to the National Archives. See if that's the case in the US also. I bet it is.

CT

Really? I assumed that was the case with most of them, but when I asked for tips on getting rights to the artwork on a different forum they suggested a lawyer. How would I go about doing this?

Also, for writing credits, should it just be like
Member a wrote the music and lyrics for track a
Member b wrote the lyrics and member a wrote the music for track b

And have the whole band sign it? Would that suffice?
#15
Whether you're dealing with graphic artists or band members, it's all the same. Sit down and come to an agreement about how ownership will be recognized.

Now, one difference that could be at work is this:

Did you PAY the graphic artist?

If you did, there IS a clear implication that it was what is called a "work for hire", which means that even if he/she created it, you own it - including the rights to it. It's the same thing when McDonald's hires someone to write a jingle for them. McDonald's owns the jingle. Rather than receive royalties and have a potentially complicated on-going series of relationships with various creative types with respect to their promotion, they just buy it outright.

If you did NOT pay for the artwork, the artist has every right to claim it as his/hers. This allows him/her in the future to force you to change the album cover by effectively not granting you permission to use it for any future pressings. This is against your better interest.

The band members.... I'm assuming they are "members" (ie. "owners" of the business) as opposed to "employees" whom you are paying. In that case, nobody is contributing a work for hire. Everyone maintains the right to their own creative content.

Now, you need to sit down and come to an agreement as to what level of ownership of the material each person has a right to.

Careful now.... just because you came up with some riffs or chords, or just because you came up with a drum beat and some fills does not mean that you are a co-writer. Legally, the standard definition of a song for purposes of ownership is limited to melody and lyrics. Everything else is considered production or arrangement, etc. This is why the Beatles' catalogue is primarily "written by Lennon/McCartney" and not "written by Lennon/McCartney/Starr/Harrison" and why most of Aerosmith's stuff is "Tyler/Perry", etc.

Now, before you get too excited, songwriting ownership - like ownership of any other asset - can be negotiated. Just because you bought your girlfriend a sweater, it does not mean that you necessarily have to maintain ownership of that sweater in perpetuity. Just because YOU are making mortgage payments doesn't mean that you can't agree to have your wife's name on the deed as an equal owner.

Some bands, for a variety of reasons, choose to assign writing credit to all members. For instance, "All songs written by XXXbandXXX"

As far as people signing it goes, you can go that way. It will help if one of them later decides to "change their mind" and came back later to seek further ownership. For us, we just talked about it and came to a verbal agreement. The songs are now registered under the appropriate names, and all is good.

If someone comes back later to protest it, the onus will basically be on them to prove that they had a greater role than what they were originally assigned. Good luck with that.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#16
Alright, that post was a major help

For the work for hire, should we create something saying something along the lines of,
for x sum, all rights to the attached image were transferred from the original artist a to person b

or what?
#17
You could, but based on the simple fact that you paid "original artist a" a sum for their work is probably enough. The implication is clear.

Did you get a receipt?

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#18
Quote by axemanchris
You could, but based on the simple fact that you paid "original artist a" a sum for their work is probably enough. The implication is clear.

Did you get a receipt?

CT

I haven't had it made yet, just getting things figured out for when I do I probably won't get one though if I had to guess...
#19
That makes it a bit tricky then. A band is a business, and it is normal for any business, in its normal course of operations to require receipts for expenditures. It's part of your record-keeping and is a legal requirement.

Now, if she does give you a receipt, then you can claim it against you band income as well. Of course, upon being audited, they may ask the artist where this income is. It is his/her obligation to report it as income.

With things under the table, it is your word against hers.

If you have a written agreement, and if anything ever comes of it, there is a risk that he/she will wind up in court having to explain not only why he/she thinks he/she is entitled to the copyright for the work, but also having to explain why that work was never claimed as income.... unless the artist denies having any income from it.... which you can see where THAT would go by now.

"It was not a work for hire. I received no income or payment from it."

"The agreement says that you would be paid for it."

"Yeah, but they didn't pay me. That's why I didn't claim it as income, and this is also why I feel that I should own the copyright to the work."

At that point, you're screwed. Even if you did pay her, you have no way of proving it. Now your money AND your right to use the work is gone.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#20
Further proof that recording a full album without a record contract or distribution deal is generally a bad idea.

There are two types of self-financed album:

1) A polished, professional album with high production values, packaging and mastering. A choice of some unsigned bands who don't want to go through the bullshit of a record deal, but the quality is on a par with a label release.

2) A demo-quality release by a band with ideas above their station, possibly recorded at home. Usually the money would have been better spent on a high-quality demo in order to attract record companies. Often these are 'released' to friends and family, and is mostly an image thing ("OMG you guyz have released an album??" It sounds much better than 'demo').


What plans do you have for recording, packaging and distribution?
#21
Quote by kyle62
Further proof that recording a full album without a record contract or distribution deal is generally a bad idea.

There are two types of self-financed album:

1) A polished, professional album with high production values, packaging and mastering. A choice of some unsigned bands who don't want to go through the bullshit of a record deal, but the quality is on a par with a label release.

2) A demo-quality release by a band with ideas above their station, possibly recorded at home. Usually the money would have been better spent on a high-quality demo in order to attract record companies. Often these are 'released' to friends and family, and is mostly an image thing ("OMG you guyz have released an album??" It sounds much better than 'demo').


What plans do you have for recording, packaging and distribution?


We might go lofi and record it ourselves, but I'm leaning towards going to a local pro studio. They have had a few big acts record there, and a friend's dad owns it so we might be able to go there at a cheaper rate. Definitely planning on getting a pro cd made and all that fun stuff. Distribution is where we are screwed, sadly

My current plan is to email a bunch of smaller indie music blogs that maintain a small but active readership, with our demo, and hopefully win over some fans that way, while at the same time of course gigging our hearts out locally. But I'm definitely no distro pro and could probably use help here.

Also, thanks a ton to everyone who is helping me. I really appreciate it!
Last edited by getmad24_7 at Dec 1, 2011,
#22
Quote by kyle62
Further proof that recording a full album without a record contract or distribution deal is generally a bad idea.


Hmmm.... I disagree.

Having an album out - even a self-produced one, so long as it sounds good - has many advantages. First, it provides the band with some legitimacy, both for potential fans and for club owners who may or may not book you. Second, it represents your access to media. Media won't talk about you unless you have something going on, and that "something going on" is usually hung onto - in some way or another - having an album out. You'll get some print media, along with some potential radio (campus at least, maybe commercial if it's very good) and television (community maybe, and if you're lucky, commercial stations) spots.

Sure, your CD won't be the bread and butter of your income, but we made over a thousand dollars directly from CD sales, after expenses.

Not only that, the labels that you hope to attract will want to know how easy a sell you are. The best way to prove that? Provide them with sales figures.... of.... a CD or something, I guess.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#23
Besides... if the artist would provide a record label with a receipt, why wouldn't she provide just a band with a receipt?

The issue is not label vs no label - it's having an artist (and other service providers) that can give you what you need.

Here's another caveat on paying for things and ownership....

Your band goes to a friend's place to record. He's a great guy and says, "I won't even charge you."

So, you and your happy band mates check in and record a kick-ass EP, and get a couple hundred or so copies manufactured, just to get you started. Life is good.

Who owns the master recording?

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.