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Interview: Manafest Talks Sync Placements & Collecting International Revenue

Canadian-born MC Manafest has enjoyed success in marrying Christian hip hop with varying sub genres of rock music, never failing to provide an energetic, uplifting and enjoyable experience for his listeners. He’s got 7 studio albums under his belt since 2003, his most recent being The Moment, released in August of 2014 & distributed by TuneCore.

Manafest is the perfect example of an artist who has released music during times when the industry suffered, recovered, and continually changed. Regardless of the rate at which the music business changed and the lessons that needed to be learned, Manafest still benefitted from touring and licensing opportunities that allow an artist to pursue their dreams and make a real living. When it comes to keeping track of all the revenue that’s owed to you from different avenues and countries, he made the ultimate decision to sign with TuneCore as his Publishing Administrator.

To give you a better idea of why publishing administration goes beyond just signing up with Performance Rights Organizations, we chatted with Manafest to learn more about his sync placement experiences, collecting publishing royalties worldwide, and advice for artists in an ever-changing industry.

1. What made you curious about TuneCore’s Publishing Administration services initially?

Manafest: I had chatted about it with my manager a bunch of times and was unsure, even though I knew there was money being left on the table. Same thing many years ago when I was scared to sign up my music to sell it digitally for sale.

Then I heard a podcast talking about all the money in other countries that SOCAN/ASCAP can’t collect on my behalf unless I’ve registered those songs in each country. The first check I got, I was very pleased.

2. How were you collecting and managing your songwriter royalties before becoming a TuneCore Music Publishing Administration client?

SOCAN was paying me. And I signed up with SoundExchange so getting checks from them. I did have an admin deal with Sony Music Japan so they took care of me there.

3. Were there any surprising sources of revenue that you discovered upon entering into a publishing deal with TuneCore?

Yeah – some United Kingdom stuff. All the royalties from sales outside of North America. It’s always amazing to see money generated outside of your home country.

4. How has the sync placement of your song “Bounce” in the film F(l)ag Football affected your progress or momentum as a musician?

It builds your sync catalogue so that when your talking with music supervisors you can say you’ve had some placements. I’ve had lots of placements over the years with CSI Miami, NFL, ESPN and other TV shows. So it all helps. I’d love for it to be more consistent. I think the key is to make more “good” music more often, so you can give TuneCore and your other teammates new stuff to pitch.

5. Beyond this sync placement, what has been your most lucrative publishing revenue stream?

The back catalogue of my hit songs “Impossible” “Avalanche” and “Everytime You Run”. I’m so happy I didn’t sign my publishing away as well as my masters. I just did a licensing deal with a label so eventually I get all my [masters] back.

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6. You’ve been making music for well over a decade now. Do you see any recent trends or new opportunities for hip hop artists when it comes to licensing? How, if at all, has it changed?

A lot of TV shows and independent films can’t afford an Eminem, a Jay Z or a Macklemore track, so they want something similar sounding — or even just the beat. This is where, if you have a big catalogue, you can pitch one of your songs and get a $2,000-$10,000 placement.

7. What’s an educational tidbit you’d share with independent artists who may be confused by music publishing?

Don’t sign your publishing away to a label. Negotiate.

Keep writing and hire a producer to make your songs great. Good isn’t enough.

Never give up and don’t be afraid to reach out to people. You’d be surprised how many people actually respond.