Yesterday I had the honor of attending the announcement of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame’s 2018 inductees, Ronnie Dunn, K.T. Oslin, Byron Hill, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Joe Melson.  I am so honored to serve as general counsel for this outstanding organization and serve with president Pat Alger, executive director Mark Ford, and all of the other talented and wonderful directors on the board, not to mention the fact that I get to brush elbows with these 200+ amazingly talented songwriters.  Below is the press release:

[/fusion_text][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” class=”” id=””]Nashville, TN August 7, 2018 – Ronnie Dunn, K.T. Oslin, Byron Hill, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Joe Melson will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October, according to an announcement made today by Hall of Fame member Pat Alger, chair of the organization’s board of directors.

The five new inductees will join the 208 existing members of the elite organization when they are officially inducted during the 48th Anniversary Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Sunday, October 28, at the Music City Center.

“This time of year, as board chair of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation, I am always reminded of the broad variety and high quality of the songwriting talent we are so fortunate to be able to celebrate,” says Alger.  “The musical trends might change through the years, but for us it always comes down to great songs and legendary songwriters – the bedrock of the town that continues to be hailed as Music City.  This year’s nominees for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame were inspiring and impressive as always, each one deserving recognition for the impact they made. Today it’s my great honor to welcome the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame class of 2018:  Byron Hill and Wayne Kirkpatrick in the songwriter category; Joe Melson in the veteran songwriter category; Ronnie Dunn as our songwriter/artist and K.T. Oslin as our veteran songwriter/ artist.”

Byron Hill’s songwriter credits include “Pickin’ Up Strangers” (Johnny Lee), “Fool Hearted Memory” (George Strait) and “Nothing On But The Radio” (Gary Allan).  Wayne Kirkpatrick’s resume is known for the Grammy-winning “Change The World” (Eric Clapton) and “Little White Church” (Little Big Town) and the Broadway musical Something Rotten!.  Joe Melson is the co-writer of the Roy Orbison hits “Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel),” “Crying” and “Blue Bayou.”  Ronnie Dunn popularized many of his own compositions, including the Brooks & Dunn hits “Neon Moon,” “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” and “Believe.”  K.T. Oslin recorded many of her self-penned hits, including “80s Ladies,” “Hold Me” and “Come Next Monday.”

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala is one of the music industry’s premier events of the year.  The evening features tributes and performances of the inductees’ songs by special guest artists.  In recent years artists such as Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Jimmy Buffett, Ronnie Dunn, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart, Taylor Swift, Josh Turner and Trisha Yearwood have performed at or participated in the event.

Also at the event, NaSHOF will present Reba McEntire with the inaugural Career Maker Award in honor of her significant influence on the songwriting careers of Hall of Fame members.

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Gala are $250 each and benefit the nonprofit Nashville Songwriters Foundation.  Select seating is available to the public and may be purchased as available by contacting Executive Director Mark Ford athoftix@nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com or 615-460-6556.
 
About the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame:

Induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame is one of the nation’s most highly prized songwriting achievements.  Since 1970, the Hall has enshrined more than 200 of the greatest writers from all genres of music ever to put words to music in Music City, including such luminaries as Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Garth Brooks, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Johnny Cash, Don & Phil Everly, Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Bob McDill, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Dottie Rambo, Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, Don Schlitz, Cindy Walker and Hank Williams.  Operated by the non-profit Nashville Songwriters Foundation, the Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring Nashville’s rich legacy of songwriting excellence through preservation, celebration and education.  More information is available at http://www.nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com/.
 
Photo (l-r) Inductees Wayne Kirkpatrick, Byron Hill and Joe Melson; NaSHOF Executive Director Mark Ford; Inductees K. T.  Oslin and Ronnie Dunn.

Photo Credit:  Bev Moser
 
Contacts for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame:

Media
Jennifer Bohler / Alliance
615 292 5804
jenny@jb-alliance.com

Executive Director
Mark Ford / NaSHOF
615 460 6556
markford@nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com

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Inductee Biographical Information
 
BYRON HILL

Winston-Salem, N.C., native Byron Hill moved to Nashville in 1978 and soon signed with ATV Music Group, where he enjoyed his first cuts with “Pickin’ Up Strangers” by Johnny Lee and George Strait’s first #1 “Fool Hearted Memory” in 1982.  Byron left ATV in 1984, but his songwriting resume continued to expand with “Nights” by Ed Bruce, “Born Country” by Alabama, “Alright Already” by Larry Stewart, “Lifestyles Of The Not So Rich And Famous” by Tracy Byrd, “High-Tech Redneck” by George Jones, “If I Was A Drinkin’ Man” by Neal McCoy, “Nothing On But The Radio” by Gary Allan and “Size Matters (Someday)” by Joe Nichols.  Other artists who have recorded Byron’s songs include Jason Aldean, Randy Travis, Keith Whitley, Rhonda Vincent, Don Williams, Trace Adkins, Toby Keith, Porter Wagoner, Brooks & Dunn, The Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs and Reba McEntire.  To date, Byron’s songs have generated more than 700 recordings, earned 91 RIAA certified Gold and Platinum awards, 10 ASCAP awards, 34 U.S. and Canadian Top-10 chart hits and numerous hits in other global markets.
 
WAYNE KIRKPATRICK

At age 14, Wayne Kirkpatrick moved with his family to Baton Rouge, La.  After a guitar lesson at a Florida Bible camp, Wayne began spending hours after school writing songs and playing younger brother Karey’s acoustic guitar.  Both brothers eventually moved to Nashville, where Karey helped Wayne secure some of his first cuts.  Since then, Wayne has had nearly two dozen chart-topping Contemporary Christian and Pop singles, including “Every Heartbeat,” “Good For Me” and “Takes A Little Time” by Amy Grant and “Place In This World” by Michael W. Smith (the 1992 Dove Song of the Year).  In 1996, Wayne’s co-written “Change The World” by Eric Clapton was featured in the film Phenomenon and earned the 1996 Grammy for Song of the Year.  In 1999 Wayne sang, played and co-wrote eight songs on Garth Brooks’ In The Life Of Chris Gaines project, including “Lost In You” and “It Don’t Matter To The Sun.”  In 2002 he began a longtime collaboration with Little Big Town that yielded hits such as “Boondocks,” “Bring It On Home” and “Little White Church.”  In 2010, Wayne and Karey began working on the musical Something Rotten!, which opened on Broadway in 2015 and earned 10 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.  The show launched a U.S. tour in 2017.

JOE MELSON
Joe Melson grew up in Bonham, Texas.  He began writing and singing his own songs at an early age.  He spent much of his young adult years working at Standard Oil by day then playing high-school dances and local night clubs with his Rockabilly band by night.  In 1957, Joe met and began writing with a then-unknown Roy Orbison.  In 1960, their song “Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel)” launched Orbison into superstardom.  The first operatic rock ballad in history, that single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.  In 1961, the team created the smash “Crying.”  It became a giant hit for Orbison, was revived as a pop hit by Jay & The Americans five years later and entered the country repertoire via versions by Ronnie Milsap and Don McLean, among many others. Orbison’s single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.  In 1963, the duo’s “Blue Bayou” became another hit for Orbison (and, years later, Linda Ronstadt).  Joe’s song catalgoue also includes “Blue Angel,” “Running Scared,” “Lana” and “I’m Hurtin’” (all hits for Orbison), as well as “Run Baby Run (Back Into My Arms)” by The Newbeats and the Glenn Barber singles “Unexpected Goodbye” and “I’m The Man On Susie’s Mind.”  In 2002 Joe was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
 
RONNIE DUNN

Ronnie Dunn was born in Texas, but Tulsa, Okla., became his hometown.  He began playing guitar and performing in Country bands when he was in his teens.  After winning the Marlboro Talent Search, Arista Records expressed interest in him.  The label teamed him with singer-songwriter Kix Brooks, and the two recorded as Brooks & Dunn from 1991-2011.  The mega-duo sold millions of records and was named CMA Vocal Duo 14 times.  The Brooks & Dunn hits “Neon Moon,” “Hard Workin’ Man,” “She Used To Be Mine,” “She’s Not The Cheatin’ Kind” and “Little Miss Honky Tonk” were all written solo by Ronnie, as was “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” which was named ACM Song of the Year in 1992.  Ronnie was BMI’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1996 and 1998.  Co-written Brooks & Dunn hits include songs such as “Brand New Man,” “My Next Broken Heart” and “Believe,” which was the ACM Song of the Year in 2005 and the CMA Song and Single of the Year in 2006.   In  2011, Ronnie resumed his solo career as a singer-songwriter with “Cost Of Livin’.”  Ronnie was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

K.T. OSLIN
Kay Toinette Oslin was born in Crossett, Arkansas.  After her father died, she moved with her mother to Houston, where she later attended college as a drama major.  In 1966, she joined the road company of Hello Dolly!.  When the musical returned to Broadway, K.T. remained in the cast.  During the next two decades, she appeared as a chorus girl in musicals such as Promises, Promises and West Side Story.  She also sang commercial jingles around New York and began writing songs.  By 1981, she was signed to Elektra Records and released two singles with modest success.  She also had songs recorded by Gail Davies, The Judds and Dottie West.  By 1987, K.T. had moved to Nashville and signed with RCA Nashville.  She scored big with her self-penned “80s Ladies,” which was named 1988 CMA Song of the Year, making her the first female writer to win the award.  That album also launched the singles “Do Ya” and “I’ll Always Come Back.”  Her second album generated five singles, including “Money,” “Hey Bobby,” “This Woman,” “Didn’t Expect It To Go Down This Way” and “Hold Me,” which earned the 1988 Grammy for Best Country Song.  K.T.’s third album generated the hits “Come Next Monday” and “Mary And Willie.”  She was named 1988, 1989 and 1991 SESAC Songwriter of the Year.  K.T. is a 2014 inductee into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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Shrum & Associates’ very own namesake, Barry Neil Shrum, Esquire, was recently appointed to serve as general counsel for the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, and to serve as a non-voting member of its Board of Directors.  The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation (NaSHOF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring and preserving the songwriting legacy that is uniquely associated with the Nashville music community. Its purpose is to educate, celebrate and archive the achievements and contributions made by members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame to the world. 

Induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (NaSHOF) is one of the nation’s most highly prized songwriting honors. Since 1970, nearly 200 of Music City’s top tunesmiths from all genres of music have been enshrined by the non-profit organization, which honors Nashville’s rich legacy of songwriting excellence through preservation, celebration and education. In 2013, NaSHOF realized a long-held dream with the opening of its Hall of Fame Gallery, located in downtown Nashville on the first floor of the Music City Center (201Image result for nashville songwriters hall of fame 5th Avenue South).

NaSHOF chairman of the Board, Patrick (“Pat”) J. Alger III (2010 NaHOF inductee), described Mr. Shrum as a perfect fit:

The Board of the Nashville Songwriters Foundation has patiently and cautiously been searching for a replacement for our longtime legal counsel [David Maddox] who recently retired. As Chairman and the de facto representative that bears the responsibility for our actions and decisions it is especially important to me to find the right candidate. I believe we got very fortunate when Barry Shrum expressed interest in filling that vacancy. He has the right combination of knowledge, experience and personality to fit the bill precisely! We welcome him enthusiastically to our team.

Mr. Shrum expressed equal admiration for his new chairman and for the organization:

I was honored when Mr. Alger approached me about the position.  Pat is in the pantheon of songwriting gods here in Nashville and the writer of one of my favorite Garth Brooks’ songs, Unanswered Prayers.  I am looking forward to serving under his considered and kind leadership.  I can’t think of anything I would rather be remembered for more so than protecting and honoring the rights of such great songwriters like Pat Alger and the other 200 or so inductees.

Mark Ford, Executive Director of the NaSHOF, expressed excitement about the appointment:

I’m excited that Barry has joined the board of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  His knowledge of copyrights and their creators, combined with his years of experience in the music industry, are a great fit for our organization.  He’s a pleasure to be around, a delight to work with and someone who will definitely stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us as we strive to honor Nashville’s rich legacy of songwriting excellence.

NaSHOF is currently producing a series of critically-acclaimed weekly television series called The Songwriters which features engaging conversations with NaSHOF inductees, including Gary Burr, Bill Anderson, Steve Cropper, Ray Stevens and many others.  The inaugural season is hosted by NaHOF Board member, Ken Paulson, and is produced at MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.  The shows airs three times weekly on Nashville Public Television as well in 10 other markets across the country.

Mr. Shrum accepted the position and took on the role in December of 2017.

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The first of the month (August 2016), the Department of Justice issued a summary of findings with regard to two court orders that govern the operation of two of the U.S. performing rights organizations (the “PRO’s”), ASCAP and BMI.  If it stands, the decision will also affect the third PRO, SESAC.

Songwriters and music publishers around the country were horrified with the DOJ findings, as were the PRO’s, with many songwriters claiming that they would now have to refrain from co-writing with songwriters belonging to one of the sister PRO’s.  This article will examine the logic of the reaction by the music community.  Is the proverbial sky falling, or will this event pass into obscurity and irrelevance?  We’ll sort out what all this means in this article.

As an aside, if you were not fortunate enough to tune into last night’s episode of my friends Heino and Scott with The Music Row Show on WSM 650, go to their website and check out the archives, as much of the information we share here was talked about in that radio program.  My appearance and conversation with The Music Row Show made me realize just how confused many songwriters will be about all of this legal maneuvering.  

Background

Before we look at the court orders, referred to as “Consent Decrees,” a little historical background will be helpful.  As I said, there are primarily three PRO’s, ASCAP, SESAC and BMI, and they were created in that order.   The two largest US PRO’s, ASCAP and BMI, make up the majority of the industry.  SESAC, by most accounts, has between 10-20% market share (although it is growing exponentially).

This is because ASCAP and BMI were both created out of controversy and strife and that highly competitive environmental produced some robust and resilient entities.  ASCAP arouse out of the Tin Pan Alley days.  Several of the key songwriters, IRVING BERLIN, VICTOR HERBERT and JOHN PHILLIPS SOUSA, began to see their songs being performed in restaurants, hotel lobbies and other venues, and they realized that they were not receiving royalties from these performances, a right that was first granted in 1897 and then incorporated directly into the 1909 Act.  These famous writers banded together to form the first coalition of songwriters and publisher, the American Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers.

Their efforts may have been received well in the music community, but the entities that used the music did not share that enthusiasm.  Certain NYC restaurant and hotel magnets, namely Shanely and Vanderbilt, questioned whether they were required to pay the composer for performance of a song in their establishments, even though they charged no admission for those performances.  The music, they maintained, was just a side show and not the main focus of what their customers were paying for.

The case, Herbert et al. v. Shanley et al. went all the way to the Supreme Court.  Writing for the majority, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes ruled in favor of ASCAP and songwriters, saying:

Music is part of the total for which the public pays and the fact that the price of the whole is attributable to a particular item which those present are expected to order is not important.  It is true that music is not the sole object, but neither is the food, which probably could be got cheaper elsewhere.

As a result, ASCAP had the stamp of approval from the highest court in the land.  They started an aggressive campaign to acquire licenses from venues where performances of music occurred, including broadcasters like television and radio stations. 

BMI arose as a direct result of ASCAP’s aggressive licensing activities.  From 1931-1939, ASCAP increased its royalty rates to radio and television stations over 400%, to the point where a group of broadcasters decided to get together and form Broadcast Musicians Incorporated in 1939.  They started signing their own composers and begin licensing non-ASCAP works for their catalog.  After a few years, most radio and television stations stopped using ASCAP music and would only use BMI-licensed music.

BMI and ASCAP have been adversaries ever since.  ASCAP, of course, had the upper hand, since they were first to market and arose out of the Tin Pan Alley environment.  ASCAP did not take kindly to being shut out of the lucrative broadcast market and the two organizations began a decades long fight for the music users.  This conflict ultimately caught the attention of the DOJ, who sued each entity under the Sherman Act (anti-trust) to address their comparative market power and balance the weight of power.  The result of the DOJ’s involvement were the consent decrees that, to this day, govern how terrestrial radio (Either AM/FM) digital rebroadcasts, and/or venues such as bars and arenas, license the performance of compositions.

SESAC, a European PRO at first licensing mostly classical, slipped into the U.S. in 1939 amidst all of this sibling rivalry and began licensing in the U.S., but as a private entity as opposed to operating as a non-profit like ASCAP and BMI.  They are not subject to any consent decrees and to this day remain under the radar, although the DOJ periodically audits them as well.

The ASCAP/BMI consent decrees defining what the PRO’s can and cannot not do – most notably, it requires them to issue “blanket licenses” to certain users.  These have been amended in 2003 and 1994 respectively.  The decrees also require that both entities offer licenses are similar terms and to similar clientele.  Importantly, for this discussion, the consent decree require that the PRO’s license to a user like Pandora one a request for license is made, regardless of whether a rate has been negotiated.  If the PRO’s and the user cannot agree on a rate, it is then presented to the “rate court” set up by the consent decree to decide.  The catch is that while all of this legal wrangling is going on, services like Pandora can continue performing the music.

The Recent DOJ Ruling

The gravamen of this issue happened in 2013 when several large music publishers, SONY ATV, EMI and Universal, among others, withdrew their “new media” licensing rights from ASCAP and BMI, leaving them to collect only their terrestrial right (read broadcasted radio or television).  They did this for a couple of reasons:  first, the consent decree do not allow the PRO’s to negotiate a market rate with digital streaming services; so, secondly, they did it in order to negotiate better deals directly with Pandora.  In 2013, Pandora negotiated a favorable percentage rate with Sony and Universal based on their gross revenues.

With their hands tied and major publishers going direct to digital stream services, ASCAP and BMI had no choice.  Streaming revenues have been increasing for years, and without these major players bringing in revenue, their revenues were decreasing.  So, in short, ASCAP and BMI went back to the DOJ seeking clarification with regard to the consent decrees with regard to operation and effectiveness.  Among other things, ASCAP/BMI ask that the decrees be modified to allow publishers/songwriters to “partially withdraw” their works.  This prompted a new review of the Consent Decrees by the Department of Justice that begin in 2014.  The DOJ released its findings on August 4, 2016 of this month.

The DOJ said that the ASCAP consent decrees doesn’t allow a publisher to withdraw partial shares.  It stated that consent decrees require a PRO “license to perform all the works in [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][its] repertory…” That meant, according to the DOJ, that it could not “rewrite the decree” to let publishers pick and choose how works are licensed and allow fractional shares.  This has great impact on the existing deals already negotiated with Pandora.  Specifically, the DOJ said:

The licensing of works through ASCAP is offered to publishers on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

Specifically, the DOJ ruled:

1)  That the consent decrees would not be modified or abolished

2)  That the consent decrees to DO NOT allow “fractional” licenses that convey only fractional shares and required additional (read other PRO) to perform the works, i.e, the DOJ interpreted the consent decrees to require “full-work” licensing.

This new and dramatically different interpretation requires the PRO’s to convey licenses to radio, television, bars and digital music services giving them the right to public perform “100%” of their repertoires without the risk of adverse infringement.  This new “full-work licensing” principal applies even if ASCAP or BMI only represent a small fraction of a song’s copyright, which is almost always the case.  The problem, of course, is that ASCAP and BMI do not generally have the legal right to convey 100%!

Ironically, the DOJ findings state that “the current status quo system [used by the PRO’s]. . . has served the industry well for decades and should remain intact.”   This is confusing, since historically the PRO’s have licensed fractional shares, contrary to the DOJ’s findings.  A single song most often is written by multiple songwriters and those songwriters are generally affiliated with different performance rights organizations and only own a fractional interest in that song.  When a song such as All-American Girl, is written by Carrie Underwood, whose performance is licensed by BMI, with two other ASCAP songwriters, traditionally BMI would license 33.33% of the song and ASCAP would license the other 66.66%.  Now, according to the DOJ, either BMI and or ASCAP would have to license 100% of the song and report and pay the royalties for the other songwriters to the other PRO.  Imagine how these historic competitors view that prospect!

Herein lies a big part of this current problem.  If we look to copyright law, as we must, the answers may be clearer.  Under section 201(a), the author of song is the owner of the song.  But as all songwriters in Nashville are prone to collaborate, we have to factor in a second author/owner.  When that happens, the copyright law treats each owner as a tenant-in-common, just like two spouses who jointly own a house.  In other word, each one owns 100%.  So what does that mean?

That means that “[e]ach co-owner may thus grant a nonexclusive license to use the entire work without the consent of other co-owners, provided that the licensor accounts for and pays over to his or her co-owners their pro-rata shares of the proceeds.” United States Copyright Office, Views of the United States Copyright Office Concerning PRO Licensing of Jointly Owned Works (2016).  Of course, the songwriters can alter this default situation through signing a collaboration agreement, but no one ever does because that would “harsh the songwriting vibe.”

Furthermore, in a joint author situation, either author of the work may enforce the right to exclude others from using the work.  So, each author of a joint work “has the independent right to use or license the copyright subject only to a duty to account for any profits he earns from the licensing or use of the copyright.” Ashton-Tate Corp., 916 F.2d at 522 (9th Cir.1990). Accordingly, a joint copyright owner may not exclude other joint owners or persons who have a license from another joint owner. 

But there is another part of this analysis that can’t be ignored, and that is the doctrine of indivisibility.  Under the prior, 1909 Copyright Act, the author(s) could NOT divide the copyright, meaning that if the copyright was licensed, the entire copyright had to be licensed, not just one of the exclusive rights.  So, I would not be able to issue a print license apart from a license to perform the work.  The 1976 Act eliminated this doctrine and effectively made the copyright divisible.  Specifically, Section 201(d)(1) of the Act states that the ownership of a copyright may be transferred in whole or in part by any means of conveyance or by operation of law.  Further, the following section 201(d)(2) specifies that this principle of divisibility applied to each of the exclusive rights – print, adaptation, distribution, reproduction and performance – which could be divided, transferred and owned separately.

Now, for the first time, an author could license only the performance rights.  But more specifically, the author could license only a portion of his/her performance rights.  So, you see, the idea of transferring fractional shares of a copyright, or one of the exclusive rights of a copyright, is actually built into the copyright act.  This is something the DOJ ruling completely ignored in its analysis when it interpreted the Consent Decrees to require the PRO’s to offer 100% licensing of their catalog. 

The DOJ, however, was focused primarily on the user of the music, completely ignoring the creators.  For the user, the DOJ felt it was egregious to have to go to all three PRO’s to get a license to perform one work.  To be fair, the PRO’s have tiptoed gingerly around this issue for years.  A license from one songwriter/publisher to perform a work should, in theory, be sufficient.  That is, after all, the meaning of a non-exclusive license.  The industry has avoided the user aspect of partial rights grants for years, requiring each user to obtain a “blanket license” from all three PRO’s in order to perform each PRO’s catalog (and consequently, glossing over the fact that a license to perform one individual work from the owner of copyright would suffice to perform the work).  In this way, each PRO could distribute the royalties collected on the benefit of their members to each one respectively according to their own algorithms. 

That process may change if the DOJ’s consent decree remains in effect.  Each PRO would have to agree who collects for a particular license, and then credit the other with their share.  This would require each one to adjust their rates accordingly and account to and pay some of the royalties received to the other PRO’s.  While it can’t be stated definitively, one just feels that this process will somehow negatively impact the songwriters and publishers, and not the PRO’s or the venues.

Most people in the industry predict that application of this “full-work” licensing approach will throw the music industry in complete and utter chaos – and they’re probably correct.  But, as I said earlier, all hope is not yet lost.  First, the DOJ gave ASCAP and BMI one year to get their act together and start operating on the 100% licensing principle they outlined.   Second, for perhaps the first time in history, ASCAP and BMI are bedfellows (you know what they say of politics) in that they have agreed to a course of reaction:  BMI is appealing the DOJ’s ruling while ASCAP is lobbying Congress for relief.   ASCAP and BMI both announced that they would join forces to fight this common foe.

The president of BMI, Michael O’Neill, was quoted in the Tennessean in response:

The DOJ’s interpretation of our consent decree serves no one, not the marketplace, the music publishers, the music users, and most importantly, not our songwriters and composers who now have the government weighing in on their creative and financial decisions.  Unlike the DOJ, we believe that our consent decree permits fractional licensing, a practice that encourages competition in our industry and fosters creativity and collaboration among music creators, a factor the DOJ completely dismissed.

For her part, CEO of ASCAP, Elizabeth Matthews stated that:

The DOJ decision puts the U.S. completely out of step with the entire global music marketplace, denies American music creators their rights, and potentially disrupts the flow of music without any benefit to the public.  That is why ASCAP will work with our allies in Congress, BMI and leaders within the music industry to explore legislative solutions to challenge the DOJ’s 100 percent licensing decision and enact the modifications that will protect songwriters, composers and the music we all love.

Most people outside the industry will have no idea how significant it is that both of this PRO’s are cooperating with each other on this issue.  ASCAP’s and BMI’s joint efforts may serve to put pressure on Congress to address an aging Copyright Act and implement some of the recommendations made by the Copyright Office in 2015, namely, the creation of a mega “Music Rights Organization” or MRO that, among other things, licenses all exclusive rights of the copyright owner, including both performance and mechanical rights.  The Copyright Office also recommended an elimination of the Consent Decrees.  U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is expected to recommend changes to the Copyright Act that could be taken up on the 2017 Congress.

In the midst of all of this activity, SESAC is again quietly biding their time, acquiring Harry Fox (mechanical rights) and Rumblefish (a “record label” including digital performance rights) in preparation for becoming perhaps the first effective “MRO.”

No one truly knows the ultimate outcome of all of this but one thing is certain:  the history of performance rights organizations in America continues to evolve.  The copyright law is very complex and have evolved over the years since its passage in 1976.  That law took almost half a century to pass and there is no reason to believe that a new revision wouldn’t take just as long given the multiple competing and often conflicting interests of various stakeholders.  But patience is not the songwriter’s only recourse here:  write your elected representative in Washington and plead your case, as free speech is the only right that will make a difference in this fight.

 

 

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We just put the finishing touches on my great client, Sammy Mitchell’s, exclusive co-publishing deal with Jackie Boyz/Razor & Tie Music Publishing joint venture.   The partnership between Jackie Boyz (the Grammy-award winning songwriting/producing team of Battey brothers) and Razor & Tie was formed at the end of 2014 for the purpose of developing fresh new songwriters.  Congrats to Sammy, who is one of those new faces and executed the papers earlier this week.  Razor & Tie has offices in New York, Nashville and L.A., and, in addition to the Battey brothers, is home to several great writers, including Phillip Larue wo co-wrote Whiskey in my Water, by Tyler Farr, which hit #1 on Country Radio and has been certified as Gold by RIAA.Photo

Sammy started playing the guitar at the age of 10.  He had a pension for punk and, go figure, country music.  Some of his biggest influences on the uncountry side of the fence were The Beatles, Third Eye Blind, Rage Against The Machine, Refused, Dr Luke, Aaron Sprinkle, Matt Goldman.  As for his Oklahoma country side,  he admits “I love the textures used in classic recordings [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][such as] Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, etc.”  After high school, Sammy began touring with a band (The City Lives) for a couple of years, which ultimately ending up on Edmond Records (owned by Mike Kennerty and Tyson Ritter of The All American Rejects).  After disbanding, Sammy decided to moved to Nashville and enroll in Belmont University’s Mike Curb School of Music Business.

After college, Sammy considered going to law school, but his love of music and producing kept calling him back.  So instead of law, he refocused his energy on producing music.  He began dabbling on the recording equipment that had been with him since his bNew Signings: Jackie Boyz Team with Razor & Tie, Son Lux to Glassnote, OWSLA Grabs Carmada and Moreedroom in Oklahoma.  He sent a few tracks to Steven Battey in LA.  The Battey brothers had platinum success with the likes of Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Madonna, and Flo Rida, just to name a few.  At that time, Jackie Boyz had just acquired new management under Iain Pirie (Co-Producer of American Idol, 19th Entertainment, Carrie Underwood).  Steven Battey was planning on moving to Nashville to develop his own writing in country music.  He liked what Sammy sent him, so the two met in Nashville and hit it off.  They immediately started writing/producing tracks together and doing co-writes with various songwriters in Nashville.  Before long, Sammy found himself writing with the brotherly team, including Carlos, and the three formed a unique bond.  Sammy’s deal with the Jackie Boyz/Razor & Tie venture came as a result of the momentum that built from his experience with Steven & Carlos Battey, with whom he formed a tight knit writing and production team.

Sammy describes the amazing opportunity this way:

All the while [we were] shopping our songs to different publishers, labels. I was super green and I was sorta thrown 360 degrees. I hadn’t had much experience in writing sessions or building tracks at a scheduled pace.  I don’t think I left my studio for 10 months just trying to develop my skill in new ways, listening and studying music in every genre, just really became obsessed with the process of getting sounds. That was probably the biggest growth period of my career so far. As time went on Iain began managing my stuff and we started growing together as a team. We met with a bunch of major and independent publishers and as time went on formed a good relationship with Razor & Tie. After about 8 months or so of working with their writers and discussing various publishing options, we felt we had a good home with them. They had just hired Brad Kennard (formerly VP of creative at Big Yellowdog) as VP of publishing at Razor & Tie to head Country Music.  [So, that is why] I signed to them as a producer/writer.  [My] goal is to focus on building my songwriting as well as pushing my track work as a producer. I’m focusing on 90% country music. I love the freedom that exists in country music right now, its a trend that lends to so many different styles. I have always been a fan of Older country music. It was always around while growing up in Oklahoma.

The corroborative effort is sure to exercise all of Sammy’s skill set, and now Sammy has the opportunity to further hone those skills writing with one of the production teams and one of the greatest publishing entities in current music.  As he indicated, he is now managed by the same famed manager as Jackie Boyz, Iain Pirie.  We wish Sammy great success.  I know it is going to be a long and prosperous road and I look forward to growing with him as he succeeds.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

In 2009 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) estimated 95% of all digitally downloaded music was obtained illegally. This leaves only 5% of potential revenue to be image distributed between all those who play a part in today’s music culture, including the most affected group, songwriters and music publishers.

While some opponents dispute that number, few serious observers would dispute that piracy has cost the industry billions of dollars. The outcome of this piracy is more harmful than most people truly understand.  There are currently over 70,000 U. S. jobs affected and 2.7 billion dollars in earnings lost in music and related manufacturing and retail industries, according to a recent independent report. More precisely, it has been estimated that the total impact of illegal downloading and piracy equates to 12 billion dollars of direct and indirect revenue lost annually in the U.S. economy. Something must be done to protect the art, industry, and creators of music from this threat.

Because of this dilemma, my client, Save the Music America, was formed and plays a increasingly influential role in spreading the word of the harm that is caused when people download music illegally. STMA is a new non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public and create awareness of intellectual property protection and copyright laws. The goal of STMA is to produce future generations with a conscience, preserving the arts and the constitutional rights of people within the creative industries, as well as the history of American music. On their website, STMA states its purpose as:

“…[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][to] raise money through celebrity endorsed events and media platforms and to educate the public to the impact of illegal downloading, creating public support for the cause. STMA will use PSA’s (public service announcements), print and online media, social networks, and educational media to raise awareness and demonstrate the repercussions of illegal file sharing. STMA also plans to create short documentary dramas to illustrate the very real tragedies which have struck those once who were supported by the music industry. These stories will help give faces and personal testimonies to the loss of income and career for the ‘everyday’ people who make up much of the infrastructure, such as audio technicians and marketing personnel.”

Starting next week, a series of PSAs entitled “Please Share and Download Music Responsibly” will begin airing on GAC and CMT. More than forty artists, producers, managers, songwriters, and other music industry professionals gave their time to help with these PSAs and include names like Jerod Neimann, Billy Dean, Wayne Mills Band, Julie Ingram, and Joe Bonsall just to name a few.  Here is one example of the PSA’s that will be airing:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf7_lA-KyWE]

Mark Dryer, co-founder and head of productions for STMA, stated: “I am thrilled at the momentum we have gained this year, after talking with over 200 people about piracy everyone agrees it is a huge problem and willing to help in some way .I believe the right company will align with us to help fund our efforts very soon.  We are looking forward to the bright future to make a difference”.

Check out their website at savethemusicamerica.org and be sure to have your channel set to either CMT or GAC next week to catch the first series of PSAs released by Save the Music America!!!

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We recently wrapped up the exclusive songwriting agreement between my client, Logan Brill and Carnival Music.  Logan and her family are from the Knoxville area.  She moved here to pursue a logan1music degree at Belmont University, but ended up with a major in French and a minor in vocal performance.  Logan is writing with other Carnival talents such as David Nail, Troy Jones, Scooter Carusoe, and others.  Carnival is owned and operated, of course, by producer Frank Liddell (Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Lee Ann Womack).  Liddell recent took home the coveted Producer of the Year award from

the Academy of Country Music.  Carnival’s prolific group of writers is responsible for generating eleven number ones in the past decade, including cuts by Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Reba McEntire and the Dixie Chicks.   She has recently begun writing for her forthcoming project with producers, Matthew Miller and Oran Thorton.  Logan’s debut performance was at the Tin Roof at the head of Music Row, Nashville.  She also performed as the opening act for Edwin McCain at the Square Room in Knoxville.  Logan is set to begin extensively touring during the summer of 2012.

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.  I expect to see great things from Logan in the near future.

Logan at the Square Room in Knoxville

written by Jeff Scheese

Law on the Row is making the jump from digital to “old skool” hardcover. Barry Neil Shrum’s article The Magical Ring of Gyges: Why Illegal Downloading is So Rampant in the Age of Cyberspace was selected by author and editor Thomas J. Hickey, responsible for the Taking Sides book series published by McGraw-Hill.  Mr Shrum’s article is set to appear in the next edition of his Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Crime and Criminology . This will be the third edition oclip_image002f Mr. Hickey’s book. The books are set up in a “point/counterpoint” debate structure, and Mr. Shrum’s article will go toe to toe with an article from famed singer Janice Ian on the issue of illegal downloading of intellectual material from the internet.

As we all know, Piracy is becoming more and more of a problem in recent years due to many advances in technology. Shrum’s article takes the side that it is human nature to steal and take the plunder if they know they can get away with it and cites the famous mythological story “The Ring of Gyges” written by Plato. However there are those that know right from wrong and will remain from engaging in the piracy. It is his hope that if people choose to respect others intellectual property by not stealing it then it will encourage others to be creative without the worries of their own works being stolen. It is a very well written article that brings a lot of truth to the issue and really digs down into people’s motivations and discouragements of music piracy. Ian’s article The Internet Debacle – An Alternative View takes the opposing view that all music should be free to download from the internet.  The books thus establishes both positions, allowing the reader to “take sides,” i.e., see both sides of the argument and can then make their own judgment about the issue at hand for themselves.

The publication date is set for October 12, 2012. You can purchase either the hardcover edition or, for those of you with a Kindle, the Kindle edition. Both will be available on Amazon.

 

Jeff_Scheese

Jeff Scheese, a senior at Belmont University which an emphasis in music business, is currently interning with Shrum & Associates.

 

My new client, Lance, releases his new album, What you Make It on April 20th.  Backed up by the Peterson family, Lance joined forces with Berklee College of Music graduate, Randall S. Peterson, who produced this collection; another Berklee grad, Paul Meyer, did the mastering.image

The finished product is being met with stellar reviews.  This praise is indicative:

. . . one song that I have to chose as my over all play repeat and do it again song it would be “So Into You” . . .  Lance did not hold out any of his heart and soul on this song as well as guitar and piano solos that make you want to roll the windows down and drive fast. This jam alone is one of many reason you should purchase this entire album.

imageFreelance writer Sherry Bach has this to say:

The feel of Lance’s music takes me back to the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Lionel Richie, two greats whose music never gets old.  If you don’t remember who those artists are, just think sexy, raw, emotional, beat driven, and mood setting guitar licks – preparing us to feel good and fall in love.

Read the full review here.

Another blogger, educator and freelance writer, Anna Summers, summarized as follows:

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Lance’s music] is an eclectic mix of pop/rock and alternative songs with a distinctly soulful, bluesy-vibe that is trademark Lance. There’s something for every palette—from the sexy, sultry “Meet Me Downstairs” to the upbeat, charismatic, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head Hey EverybodySo Into You promises to be the anthem of summer with its mesmerizing lyrics and shoreline groove. True to its title, this album meets you where life and love intersect, inviting you to make the most of every moment.

From a different media, disc jockey “OC” at KRUF 94.5 FM in Shreveport, Louisiana raves “Excellent tunes Lance! . . . Love the Downstairs tune but then again I love them all!

Finally, Sylphie Mitchell of The Last Note Standing says:

Favorite track . . .?  For me, it’s a tough choice. If I want to dance, I’m going to pick “So Into You” because you can’t help but move when you hear it. For quiet moments and pure feeling, I want to listen to “Downstairs” and “I Wish You Were Here”. Lance’s music and lyrics are strong, and given even more depth and color by the Peterson family, who back him up instrumentally. All in all, for this writer, I have to say to LANCE that I “Got Love” and that I “Want (more) Love!”

Lance is currently on a tour of the Hot Topic retail outlets across the Southeast, currently appearing in Regency Square Mall in Jacksonville, Florida.  He will be back in the Music Row area on April 19th appearing at the Belcourt Taps & Tapas in Nashville, and then at Borders Books in Brentwood and then at the Cool Springs Galleria on April 20th.  Be sure to get out and show your support.

Find out for yourself what everyone is talking about.  Submit your own review!  But by all means,  pre-order the CD here.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Clarence Spalding

Rascal Flatts is arguably one of the most successful bands in recent history, selling more than 20 million albums as the headline act on Disney’s Lyric Street Records until that label succumbed to the effects of illegal digital downloading that has a stranglehold on the music industry.  When that happened, the band moved to the wildly successful label that the Swift family and Scott Borchetta built, i.e., Big Machine Records.  Now, Flatts is making another significant move.  Just a few short weeks ago, they parted ways with the management company that took them to the top, Turner Nichols & Associates.  Now, they have inked a deal with Clarence Spalding and his firm, Spalding Entertainment, for personal management.  Spalding is, perhaps, a bigger icon in the industry than Rascal Flatts, as he begin managing the career of Brooks & Dunn in 1991 and continued during their heyday.  He continues to manage the post-B&D solo career of Ronnie Dunn, as well as the musical careers of Jason Aldean, Terri Clark, Pat Green, and Ashley Monroe.  Spalding serves on the board of the Country Music Association,  the Academy of Country Music, Vanderbilt’s Bill Wilkerson Center, and is a member of NARAS.  He received CMA’s President’s Award in 2009 for his service at the helm of that organization.  In an article by Peter Cronin for American Chronicle, Mike Dungan, President and CEO of Capitol Records Nashville said that Spalding was “at the top of his game.”  Dungan described him as a “people person,” and as a “very bright guy who has a firm grip on all aspects of our industry.”