How Composer Brian Crain Unlocks Worldwide Songwriter Royalties

May 28, 2014

TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration team works hard to help the songwriters in our community collect and generate songwriter royalties all over the world.  For many composers, working with a music publisher to collect royalties from the songs they have written can be a significant income stream.  We recently caught up with one such composer, Brian Crain, whose compositions have been used on the big (and small) screens.  Find out how TuneCore Music Publishing gets Brian songwriter royalties he didn’t even know he had, and how he sees the role of the songwriter shifting as the music industry continues to evolve. 

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

Before TuneCore Publishing I was only using ASCAP.  They have been really good for my music but I didn’t realize how many more royalties you can collect with a Publishing Administrator in addition to ASCAP.

Why did you decide to get a publishing deal with TuneCore?

I’ve been a fan of TuneCore ever since my first release with them back in 2007.  They have always treated me well and I felt that I could trust them.  Also, it was easy to sign up and I thought that they would bring in a few extra dollars.  Being an independent musician, it’s important to collect from as many different sources as you can.  It all adds up.

Your compositions have been used in commercials and TV programming in Asia, and you were honored as the Honorary Cultural Ambassador for Yeongwol, South Korea (congrats!).  How have you been able to develop a fan base in Asia? 

Yes, I have had great success in Asia.  My start in South Korea was similar to my start with TuneCore Publishing.  Back in 2000, a small record company emailed me and asked if they could release one of my albums.  The royalty was very low ($1,000) but I thought that I wasn’t going to sell any CDs to Korea by myself so why not give them a shot.  They were able to place my song “Butterfly Waltz” in a popular drama and the song became very popular.  They ended up selling over 40,000 CDs.  From the album’s success, I was able to tour South Korea and establish a large fan base.  I still tour every year and almost everyone in South Korea knows my music.

On a recent tour of Asia, I played in a small town called Yeongwol.  I was so moved by the beauty of the surrounding area and the wonderful people in Yeongwol that I wrote a song for them. The Ambassadorship was a big surprise and a great honor.

What has been the most lucrative publishing revenue stream for you? 

Currently my most lucrative revenue stream is from TV and movie publishing deals that TuneCore Publishing brokers for me.  I am very grateful to have an expert look over the contracts.  I’m pretty good at reading legalese but it’s great to have another advocate on my side. TuneCore Publishing has become, in effect, my agent.

Has the Creative Team at TuneCore Publishing helped negotiate sync opportunities that came to you directly?

Yes, I just had them negotiate a motion picture deal that will have wide distribution in theaters this summer.

Have any of the royalties youve received come from a source that surprised you?

My first great surprise with TuneCore Publishing was the $4,000 that they got for me from Canada.  Apparently, there was a cash of uncollected royalties waiting for me that I wouldn’t have known about without TuneCore.

What do you think is the biggest opportunity for songwriters related to Music Publishing?

I owe so much of my success to my record company in South Korea for licensing “Butterfly Waltz” in that TV Drama.  So much good has come from that one placement.  I don’t even know the name of the drama, but that opportunity and the snowball effect have changed my life.  Opportunities happen all the time and you have to be ready for them to happen.  I know TuneCore will be there for my next big thing.

How do you use the TuneCore Publishing tools? (e.g. do you check on the status of your compositions with Composition Manager?)

I use all of TuneCore’s information tools.  Information is the key to success in the business.  I check for changes every day and look for patterns that I can utilize in my marketing.

Do you consider publishing royalties as supplemental income?  Or with its continued growth, is it a major source of income for you?

It is a big part now and will get bigger in the future.  Publishing and streaming royalties are the future of the business.

How do you see the role of the songwriter shifting as the music industry continues to evolve?

Right now the majority of royalties are going to mechanical.  I see performance and mechanical becoming more equal in the future.  Every good business knows that content is king, and will eventually take care of the creators.

 [Editor’s Note: Are you a songwriter? Check out how we work with songwriters to register, license, and pitch their songs worldwide, and help them collect their hard-to-get songwriter royalties.]

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