8/12/12-One of the more exciting components to authoring a book is receiving feedback. Positive or constructive, I always enjoy receiving it. This past week I received several emails with a the same question attached to them; Can you define “publishing?”
A standard question I asked the majority of the musicians in Tales from the Stage was how their publishing worked? Publishing is short for publishing revenue or publishing split. You could write chapters explaining the process, but in a nutshell publishing is the money made via the selling of the musicians recorded music. Most commonly it comes in the form of CD sales, but monies are also paid for use of the musicians work in a public format; TV commercials, radio play, large sporting events, etc. Publishing is typically broken down by the individual song, and what part the musician had in writing it.
There is no standard formula for the split. Chris Holmes explained that it was 33/33/33 in WASP. In this case it translated to 33% to whoever came up with the melody of the music for the song, 33% for the melody of the lyrics, and 33% for the origination of the lyrics. Some bands split publishing even across the board. Again, it will vary from band to band.
Most participants in the book were asked, “Are you in a financial position that you never have to work again?” Only one person said “yes”. If you haven’t read the book I wont give it away, but this musician has made the vast majority of his income from publishing over the years. He wrote the lyrics to some of the biggest hits of the 80s, and his songs continue to be played regularly on the radio, and have been used in numerous national television ads. As a point of reference, I know of a Las Vegas based company that ran a short, regional TV ad featuring a Queen song throughout the ad. They paid $50,000 for the use of the song. My point is that it can amount to big bucks! Bob Seger’s tune, “Like a Rock” was used by Ford Motor Company for years in their TV ads, in the promotion of their pick up trucks. This was a long running, national ad which Ford paid Bob considerably more than he made for the song via CD sales or radio play. You just never know where your song will end up!
Keep the questions coming, as it is always a good time visiting with fellow music fans. Also, if you are heading into the studio in the near future, make certain that you are getting your fair share of the publishing split after you record your work. You never know when Monday Night Football might come knocking, right Joan Jett?