Music Publishing Pop Quiz

By George Howard
(follow George on Twitter)

We talk a lot about music publishing in these pages.  The reason for this is that we firmly believe that in order to succeed in today’s music business, you absolutely must understand the rights around the songs you create.  This means understanding publishing.

While we’ve approached this topic from a variety of ways in the past, I thought I’d take a slightly different approach today: a pop quiz.  Don’t worry, you won’t be graded. There’s a hypothetical below, followed by questions, and next to each question is the date I’ll be posting the answer. Make sure to check back.

Good luck!

Here’s the hypothetical:

A Jazz artist performs her own composition in a club in the United States. In the middle of the song, the guitar player plays a solo. As part of his solo he quotes a fifteen second snippet of The Flintstones theme song.

Questions (refer to the facts (in ital.) above for all questions):

1.  Who gets paid for this live performance in the club, and how? (Answer to be posted 8/6)

2.  Someone from the artist’s label records the live performance that took place in the club, with the intent of releasing the song as a download from iTunes. What must be done to do this, and, when released, who gets paid and by whom? (Answer to be posted 8/8)

3.  A movie producer desires to place thirty seconds of the live recording referenced above (including 10 seconds of the Flintstones theme) in a movie. What must be done to do this, and, when the movie is shown on TV who gets paid and by whom? (Answer to be posted 8/10)

4.  The song recorded and released by the label is streamed on Spotify. Who gets paid and how? (Answer to be posted 8/13)

5.  The song recorded and released by the label is streamed on Pandora. Who gets paid and how? (Answer to be posted 8/15)


Write your answers in the comments, we’ll be posting the answer to question 1 on Monday, August 6th.  Make sure you check back here then!


George Howard is the Executive Vice President of Wolfgang’s Vault. Wolfgang’s Vault is the parent company of Concert Vault, Paste Magazine, and Daytrotter. Mr. Howard is an Associate Professor of Management at Berklee College of Music

  • Adrian Peek

    1) The club pays (under a performance contract)
    2) Assuming live recordings are covered in the artist’s contract w/the label this would be under that contract; iTunes pays the label who in turn pays the artist royalties based on the contract.
    3) The solo could be licensed to the movie by the Publisher. The use of the Flintstones’ theme could be construed as a “fair use”, or the theme’s publisher would have to grant some sort of license to quote that specific melody.
    4)-5 Spotify and Pandora I’m not sure about. I believe if one has Harry Fox they would pay as they now do surveys (or so their site says) I have a new song out on Spotify so I’ll soon see for myself.
    BTW the questions were a bit difficult because no info was given about contracts, if any. The assumption is there are artist-fair contracts.

  • George Howard

    Thanks for weighing in, Adrian. Generally, you’re on target (please see the detailed answers to the questions). One thing you’re off on is the Fair Use idea around The Flintstones’. Fair Use is an affirmative defense with very limited and specific application; it doesn’t relate to this hypo.



  • Bleed Australia

    Always good to be informed on the new rules in the music sector.. good job team!