An Examination of the Songwriter & Music Publisher Relationship [PART 1]

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. Justin is an entertainment and media attorney for The Jacobson Firm, P.C. in New York City. He also runs Label 55 and teaches music business at the Institute of Audio Research.]

 

UPDATE: Read Part 2 of this series here!

We will now examine the music publisher and its exclusive publishing agreement with a songwriter. In addition to the standard exclusive publishing agreement explored below, there are other types of related agreements a songwriter could potentially sign with a music publisher, including a co-publishing, sub-publishing or administration arrangement; however, these will not be explored in this article.

Music publishers, which include Sony/ATV Publishing, Universal Music Publishing and Warner Music Publishing, are companies that manage a songwriter’s rights in a track. This may be typically referred to as an “administration” right in the composition. This provides the publisher with the right to license the music to others as well as to collect payments from any third-party for their uses of the songwriter’s work. The publishing company also handles the “paperwork” associated with the composition, including registering the copyrights in the songs, indexing the track with the appropriate Performing Rights Organization, as well as accounting and distributing the collected funds. A publisher may also “shop” a songwriter’s tracks in order to obtain licensable placements for its signed talent. An individual responsible for this task is sometimes referred to as a “song plugger.”

In most instances, the songwriter and publishing company equally split all of the proverbial “publishing monies.” In reality, this means that fifty (50%) percent of the total amount earned is allotted for the “writer’s share” of the composition and the remaining fifty (50%) percent is allocated for the “publisher share” of the composition. Since a single track can have several co-writers, this means that several publishing companies and other individuals may also be entitled to a part of the “writer” or “publisher” share of the track. For instance, if a song has two co-writers, the “writer’s share” of the composition could be split equally with each writer receiving fifty (50%) percent of the entire track’s “writer” share.

The streams of income generally subject to an exclusive publishing agreement include mechanical royalties, public performance royalties, synchronization fees and print incomes. Mechanical royalties are paid for the use of a musical composition on CDs, vinyl, cassettes and as MP3 downloads. In the United States, the Harry Fox Agency is generally responsible for collecting and distributing mechanical royalties. Print Income is also subject to these agreements and applies to any funds earned from the sale of the printed musical work, such as in lyric and musical score folios, individual sheet music and when the same is displayed or sold as sheet music on the Internet.

Public performance royalties are also subject to a publishing agreement. This income is due when a musical composition is publicly performed, including when it is played on the radio, at a nightclub, a concert hall, or a stadium. These funds are collected by Performing Rights Organizations (P.R.O.). In the United States, the P.R.O.s are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. A songwriter must become a member of a P.R.O. in order to receive their public performance royalties. Additionally, each country has their own P.R.O., so a foreign citizen should become a member of the organization in their country of citizenship.

Finally, synchronization income, referred to as “synch” monies, are subject to the same publishing deal. This income is paid when a composition is displayed with a visual image, such as in a motion picture, in a television program, in a music video or in a video game. There is income here that may also be collected by the owner’s respective P.R.O.

As is standard with most exclusive recording agreements, the deal is usually cross-collateralized with any other agreements between the same parties. Again, this means that any advance and any other funds expended on behalf of the writer, whether under a recording contract or a publishing contract, are recouped against any royalties earned from either agreement. If possible, it is prudent to limit or prevent the cross-collateralization of the agreements; however, most companies will not permit this.

In addition, some publishing companies attempt to cross-collateralize the royalties earned by one co-writer in a composition with that of any other co-writers of the same track. This permits the publisher to credit any royalties earned by any co-writer of a composition toward the outstanding royalty balance of any other co-writers of a song, even if they are not attributable to this particular co-written song. If it is cross-collateralized, the publisher is permitted to credit any royalties earned by any co-writer of a composition, even if they are not attributable to this particular co-written song, toward the outstanding royalty balance of any other co-writers of a song. It is prudent to ensure that each writer’s royalty account is not cross-collateralized with any other co-writers of a track by ensuring that only tracks written by one writer are credited toward that writer’s outstanding balance without permitting the cross-collateralization of accounts with any other co-writers.

Another point to be aware of is that an artist should try to ensure that if they are signed to both a recording and publishing agreement with the company; and, if the company wants to extend one of the deals, the other deal is also not automatically extended. This prevents the artist from being dropped from the label while still being signed to the publishing company.

One final matter that should be addressed in this arrangement is the songwriter’s creative control and approval for the uses of its compositions. In particular, a writer should try to include a limitation on the types of works that their composition can be licensed to or included in. For instance, a “kid friendly” pop star may not want their composition featured in a commercial that contains drug, alcohol or tobacco use, features sexual content, or violence. In addition, an artist should have a right to approve any changes to their finished music. This includes ensuring that any song or lyric alterations conform to the artist’s “mood” or “style” of music. For example, a publisher should not be able to take a dance track created by a dance artist and edit it so that it is now a heavy metal record.

We will now examine a few standard clauses included in an exclusive songwriter publishing agreement.

SERVICES – During the Term, Writer shall furnish to Publisher, Writer’s exclusive services as a songwriter and composer and shall deliver to Publisher, for exclusive exploitation hereunder, all of Writer’s interest in and to all of the Compositions. 

(a) New Compositions – Musical works that are written, composed, created, owned and/or acquired, during the Term, by Writer, alone or in collaboration with another or others (hereinafter referred to individually and collectively as “New Compositions”) 

(b) Old Compositions – Musical works that are written, composed, created, conceived, owned, controlled and/or acquired, in whole or in part, prior to the Term, by Writer, alone or in collaboration with another or others (hereinafter referred to individually and collectively as “Old Compositions”). The New Compositions and the Old Compositions are individually and collectively referred to as the “Compositions.” 

As described above, the publishing agreement usually signs the writer to an exclusive agreement for their publishing rights in all of their Compositions. This means that the agreement applies to any existing compositions that the writer has created and owns as well as any new material they create or acquire during the term of this agreement. It may be advisable to attempt to exclude certain existing tracks from the agreement in an effort to prevent the publisher from receiving income from those compositions. This is especially true, if those tracks are already under a prior exclusive publishing deal. This is not the easiest goal to achieve as most of the time; the artist is only receiving the publishing deal due to an interest in all of their existing material as well as any new material they create going forward.

GRANT OF RIGHTS

(a) Writer hereby irrevocably assigns and grants to Publisher and its successors, all rights and interests of every kind and nature in and to the results of Writer’s songwriting and composing services, including, the Compositions, the copyrights therein and any and all renewals and/or extensions thereof throughout the Territory, all for the full term of copyright protection and all extensions and renewals thereof throughout the Territory. 

(b) Administration – Publisher shall have the sole and exclusive right to administer one hundred percent (100%) of Publisher’s and Writer’s respective interests in and to the Compositions, whether now in existence or hereafter created, including the following: 

(i) To perform the Compositions publicly, by means of public or private performance, radio broadcasting, television, or any and all other means, whether now known or which may hereafter come into existence. 

(ii) To substitute a new title or titles for the Compositions, and to make any adaptation or translation of the Compositions, in whole or in part, and to add new music or lyrics to the music of any Composition. 

(iii) To make and to license others to make, master records, tapes, compact discs, and any other mechanical or other reproductions of the Compositions, including the right to synchronize the same with sound motion pictures, radio broadcast, television, tapes, compact discs and any and all other means or devices, whether now known or which may hereafter come into existence. 

(iv) To print, publish and sell, and to license others to print, publish and sell, sheet music, orchestrations, arrangements, including, without limitation, the inclusion of any or all of the Compositions in song folios, song books or lyric magazines. 

(v) To collect all monies earned during the Term with respect to the Compositions. 

The above language explores the various rights granted to the publisher by the songwriter in the agreement. The clause affords the publisher with the exclusive right to administer one hundred (100%) percent of the song’s publishing. Under this provision, the publisher has the right to license the work for inclusions on CDs, as MP3 downloads and as sheet music. They also have the right to collect all the monies earned on the contracted for compositions.

Additionally, the publisher has the right to license the work on the radio, on television, in motion pictures and by “. . . all other means or devices, whether now known or which may hereafter come into existence.” This language permits the publisher to apply its current publishing deal to any new technology or means of distributing music that may come into existence at a later date. Furthermore, the publisher is granted the right to translate into another language as well as adding new lyrics to any composition created by the songwriter.

In our next installment, we will continue our discussion on a music publisher’s exclusive publishing agreement with a songwriter.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted. Some of the clauses have been condensed and/or edited for content purposes, so none of these clauses should be used verbatim nor do they act as any form of legal advice or counseling. 

You Must Do These 5 Things Before Licensing Your Music

[Editors Note: This was written by Suzanne Paulinski and originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.]

 

You often read blogs about music licensing that touch upon the importance of what to include in your email pitch, how to find who to contact about a project, and even how to position your music for greater success in the world of licensing.

What often goes unsaid, however, are the small, yet important, details (known as micro-tasks) that make the difference between a migraine-inducing process and a money-generating one.

When submitting music for licensing, be prepared and treat each submission as if it’s already been chosen. Below are five things you can do to organize your files and data to not only lock down potential deals but also make the process of submitting your songs a breeze rather than a tornado.

1. Embed all tracks with complete metadata

Upon mastering your tracks, make sure each file is complete with the correct metadata, which includes the track’s credits, as anyone licensing your song(s) will need this for his or her records. It’s also helpful to have this metadata available in a text file should you need to include it in an email or on a required form.

Metadata is important for licensing so that licensees can get in touch with you, ensure they have everyone’s permission to use the song, and draw up the proper agreements. It includes:

  • the album title
  • the title of the track
  • the genre
  • the authors/composers
  • the year it was recorded
  • the sample rate
  • the duration of the track
  • relevant contact info (including your full name and email)

2. Copyright your music before you submit

Avoid submitting anything with an uncleared sample to ensure you don’t screw up a potential deal. It’s also important to realize no one will agree to license your original music if it is not properly copyrighted. Deals can often happen very quickly, and you don’t want to hold things up by waiting for the copyright office to review and file your application.

3. Create a master spreadsheet for all song metadata

With deals moving as quickly as they sometimes can, it’s important to have your entire catalog’s metadata available at your fingertips. It’s best to keep a spreadsheet with every song’s title, genre, copyright info including all author(s) contact information, and the copyright registration number(s) in one place should you need to reference any piece of information during the licensing process.

4. Visualize where you could hear your music

It’s helpful, especially if you have a significant number of songs in your arsenal, to have certain information available at a glance when preparing to submit to certain opportunities. Using that same master spreadsheet, include a column for “sounds like” to elaborate on the genre and notable instrumentation, as that will usually be what people will include in their requests (i.e., “sounds like Bruno Mars with significant horns”).

Additionally, having a column for “perfect for” with notes on the type of media for which you would consider the song an ideal match (i.e., horror film, car commercial, etc.) will allow you to quickly scan which songs might be right for a project.

5. Keep a master contact list of people to whom you’ve submitted

Much like the master list of song metadata, having a growing list of music supervisors or licensing agents you’ve reached out to is just as useful.

Creating columns for their contact info, the date you first reached out, the status on your follow ups, what songs you’ve sent, any feedback they’ve provided, as well as a fact or two about them and what they’re currently working on will help you track your progress, set reminders for future follow ups, and strengthen your relationships by being able to reference where you left off when you next reach out to them.

Always remember at the end of the day this is a business. Having this information organized and readily available will not only make the process of pitching your songs easier but also show anybody who chooses to work with you that you’re a true professional and ready to deliver whatever it is they may need, which is the best way to ensure future work and a sustainable career in the industry.

TuneCore Sync Placements Q3 in 2016

We’re extremely proud to be able to help our TuneCore Artists get their music out to the world in the form of synchronization licensing. From TV shows and movies to video games and advertisements, sync placements are one of the most sought-after successes among independent artists.

In an effort to celebrate and showcase these licenses, we’re continuing to share highlights from each quarter here on the TuneCore Blog! If you’ve been interested in TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration, peruse through these placements to see just some of what our publishing team has been up to:

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The Girl on the Train (trailer)
Song Title: “Classical Piano Music For Baby Sleep”
Writer: Jeffrey Deary
Artist: Einstein Baby Lullaby Academy

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-5-23-15-pm 

Atlanta (promos)
Song Title: No Hook
Writer: Otis Williams
Artist: OJ Da Juiceman

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-5-21-28-pm

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 13
Song Title: TRNDSTTR (Lucian Remix) (ft. M. Maggie)
Writer: Mary Miller
Artist: Black Coast

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-5-20-42-pm

Vice Principals
Song Title: Sunset Blood
Writer: Georgios Smaragdis
Artist: Starcadian

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-5-19-56-pm

Forza Horizon 3 (video game)
Song Title: The Wild Life
Writer: Carlos Sosa
Artist: Outasight

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Legends Rising (series title track)
Song Title: Chinatown
Writer: Georgios Smaragdis
Artist: Starcadian

TuneCore Sync Placements Q2 in 2016

We’re extremely proud to be able to help our TuneCore Artists get their music out to the world in the form of synchronization licensing. From TV shows and movies to video games and advertisements, sync placements are one of the most sought-after successes among independent artists.

In an effort to celebrate and showcase these licenses, we’re continuing to share highlights from each quarter here on the TuneCore Blog! If you’ve been interested in TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration, peruse through these placements to see just some of what our publishing team has been up to:

tmnt-out-of-the-shadows-featured
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Song Title: “Wild Life”
Writer: Carlos Sosa
Artist: Outasight

LadyLike_S1_JumbotronLadylike
Song Title: “The Uprising”
Writer: Dominic Lalli
Artist: Big Gigantic

USGA-FOX-SportsFox Sports – US Open
Song Title: “Legends”
Writers: Eric Michels, Steve Michels, Seth Dunshee, and Jonathan Tanner
Artist: Foreign Figures

wildlifetrailerThe Wild Life (trailer)
Song Title: “Wild Life”
Writer: Carlos Sosa
Artist: Outasight

fido1Fido LG G5 (product video)
Song Title: “Don’t Give a Damn”
Writer: Yonas Mellesse
Artist: Yonas

dwts-logo-1Dancing With the Stars
Song Title: “300 Violin Orchestra”
Writer: Jorge Quintero
Artist: Jorge Quintero

hugo-boss-logoHugo Boss (promos)
Song Title: “Through the Fire”
Writer: Jasper Wijnands
Artist: Shook

Interview: The Sweeplings and the Art of Songwriter Collaboration

We never get sick of hearing about the interesting ways that artists get together to begin making music independently. While there’s always something to be said about, say, a brother and sister taking their childhood collaborative hobby on the road, or three friends who have been playing in the garage since seventh grade, we’re living in an age in which creators can connect digitally and embark down wonderful paths together.

Whitney Dean was hanging at his Hunstville, Alabama home when his wife Beth directed his attention to a performer that was live on that week’s episode of America’s Got Talent: Cami Bradley. When Whitney’s wife began reaching out to Cami on his behalf online, she insisted that they get together and write music. While Cami was hesitant at first, the communication led to Cami and Whitney’s meeting all the way north west in the former’s hometown of Spokane, Washington.

With their ability to create thoughtful acoustic music that has drawn comparisons to former TuneCore duo the Civil Wars, Cami and Whitney would go on to release their debut self-titled EP as The Sweeplings in 2014, and their full length Rise & Fall the following year. The two songwriters are releasing a 5-song covers EP this summer while they continue to work on their follow-up album. Cami and Whitney shared with us their modern beginnings as a pair, how they have learned from each other as musicians, and more in an interview below:

How quickly did you two connect online after America’s Got Talent, and how would you describe the interaction/reaction overall? 

Cami: Whitney’s wife Bethany actually Facebooked me during the finale week of America’s Got Talent. She gave me a brief overview of the project Whitney was working on and how she thought we’d be a perfect fit to finish it together. I politely declined (due to the uncertainty and busy-ness of that week), but a few months later (after a couple more emails) we got on the phone.

One brief phone call and I knew these people were not only wonderful, but legit and worth listening to. So we planned for Whit to come stay with my husband and I for a few days in Spokane and that was that!

Was there instant songwriting chemistry between you two, or did the process take time?

Cami: There was an instant musical chemistry from the first two songs we wrote together (“Across The Sea” & “Drop by Drop”). Both of which are on our EP. By the end of two days of writing together we had seven songs completely finished. Three to four completely finished songs a day, (with, essentially, a stranger), was the definition of musical chemistry for us.
Whitney: It was like finding a missing part of myself musically. Cami seems to know what my inclinations or sensibilities are and can not only beat me to it, but help me grow my thoughts. It’s seriously like I found a cure for something with Cami and our music; truly something special that needed to be shared with the world.
The Sweeplings - Press image 1

In what ways do you both complement each other as songwriters?

Whitney: It’s a great partnership musically. We both will come to each other with half written songs or ideas and most times we are able to finish each others thought and make it a final product pretty quickly. It’s like we just seem to have the answer for each other. Cami is blessed not only with a phenomenal voice but an amazing sense of melody and how lyrics work within that.
Cami: Songwriting can be such a difficult task for some. We are blessed to have a pretty painless process when it comes to writing. It’s very rare that we get really stuck or disagree on where the other wants to go. We are lucky to complement each other when it comes to ideas and ways to move forward.

Where do you feel you’ve been able to learn from one another?

Whitney: I’ve been so blessed to meet Cami and the opportunity to learn from her and work with her. The biggest thing I’ve been able to take away from our time together is attention to detail and that the little things matter. From consistent and beautiful melody lines, and crafting lyrics that suit the way you say them in the melody. It’s not just singing words. It’s creating a melody and lyric that compliment and intensify each other. She also could find a way to sing a newspaper article and make you cry.
Cami: Whitney is a much better lyricist than I and they seem to come to him effortlessly and quickly. I could take two days to put together one of our songs in order to feel great about the content and flow of the lyrics. He can spit out twelve different ways of saying something on the spot. It’s a great partnership because sometimes we have time to mull over lyrics and sometimes we don’t. He spits them out, I rearrange them, or make them “singable” within the melody, and poof – song finished.

Similarly, do you two have a lot in common in terms of what kind of influences you draw from?

Whitney: Our starting points and backgrounds are very similar, but our influences vary quite a bit. I grow up with a mom that taught piano and voice lessons from home, and I would listen and learn from what she would tell her students. I also grew up playing and singing in church which was a huge part of musical growth. Most of my influences actually come from my years in college in the Shoals (Florence, AL) listening to anything from bands like Incubus, Silverchair, Derek Webb, and of course loads of great local and regional artist I met along my way.
Cami: I also grew up in a highly musical family and singing at my church completely shaped who I am today as a singer and pianist. My musical influences when I was in junior high ranged massively from Natalie Cole to Christina Aguilera to Disney soundtracks. Throw a dash of jazz, pop, Christian and Disney music together and I guess you get me! As I reached high school it broadened even more. I was surrounded by so many talented musicians at my church that I soaked up everything I could by watching, playing alongside them and asking as many questions as I could.

What led to the decision to release a covers EP this summer?

Whitney: We had arranged a few covers for our licensing company and developed others to play at shows while we toured this year. We had such a great response to them that we thought putting them down and sharing them with the world would be a great way to keep fans engaged.
Cami: I personally LOVE re-arranging other people’s already amazing music and drawing inspiration from it to create something that molds what we do with their art. This seemed like second nature and the right thing for us to do! It also helps us draw in friends and fans while we record our follow up album this year.

What do you consider to be some of the benefits of releasing cover songs for independent artists – whether it’s an album or a one-off single?

Whitney & Cami: Seems contrary to what you would think, but we feel it really gives people a better sense of what we sound like as a duo and how we write. We’ve taken these covers and tried to transform each into something new, something that sounds like “The Sweeplings”.
Hopefully, people will be able to get a better idea of what we do musically through them and be a gateway to find each other. The main benefit we’ve found, (and the reason for the for an EP), was that it creates a way for people that might not find us on their own to have an introduction to us through a song they already know and love. It’s a bridge, bringing us to fans that are looking for something familiar but new.

Your music has a very cinematic feel to it. How important are licensing opportunities for you as independent songwriters?

Whitney: Very, it’s honestly how and why we started this duo. We wanted to be found and exposed to our potential and future fans through TV/film. We’ve personally found songs we love on our favorite TV shows/films, so to be a part of that experience for someone else is a dream come true.
Cami: Musically, we feel the way we write, compose and produce is tailored for licensing. It’s very intentional. Our goal is to create music that “sounds the way you feel”, tells a story sonically and takes people to another place.
Whitney & Cami: On the business side, we get paid for our music to be involved in a TV/Film and as a result, we also get the perk of it being shared and exposed to tons of potential fans. There are very few platforms that can get you that level of exposure to new fans and at the same time give you the financial boost to keep things rolling. As a current independent artist, it’s really priceless.

How far along are you into the production of your follow-up full length? 

Whitney: It’s in the works! The recording process begins soon. We’re really excited about our progression and the new music. The new songs are of course still very duo driven, but feels like a step forward for us.
Cami: We hope to release our follow up album either late this year or first thing 2017.

What themes and experiences are you hoping to capture on it?

Cami & Whitney: A pretty wide range really. From stories of escape, to the impact of true love – we write about all aspects of life.
The follow-up feels like it’s our most well rounded group of songs to date and a perfect compliment to our debut Rise & Fall.

April Songwriter News

By Dwight Brown

As spring settles in, songs, activists and artists are creating news.

  • The iconic civil rights song “We Shall Overcome” may be headed to Public Domain territory.
  • Government regulations are stymying songwriters, but there may be a way out.
  • Led Zeppelin may have a “Whole Lotta Love” for borrowing tunes.

There’s a lot going on.

The attorneys who liberated “Happy Birthday” go after “We Shall Overcome.”


Making the case that copyrighted songs like “Happy Birthday” belong in the public domain is becoming the norm for the law firm of Wolf copyright iconHaldenstein. As reported in Hollywood Reporter, their newest lawsuit centers on the classic civil rights song “We Shall Overcome.” “The lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the We Shall Overcome Foundation, say they are producing a documentary movie and that “We Shall Overcome” will be performed in it. They requested a quote for a sync license from the defendants.” The outcome: 1. “We Shall Overcome” is a difficult song to clear. 2. The song cannot be cleared without review by the rights’ holder. 3. Their request was denied.

A putative class action was filed in New York federal court against the Richmond Organization and Ludlow Music, Inc., seeking a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and the return of money for the licensing of the song. An investigation and a piece in The Atlantic reveals that the song’s melody may date back to a 1792 hymn, “O Sanctissima.” The lyrics probably evolved from a 1901 hymn by Philadelphia’s Reverend Charles Albert Tindley, were adapted in 1945 by striking union workers, then by singer Pete Seeger and in 1960 by folksinger Guy Carawan, among others.

Looks like “We Shall Overcome,” the song The Library of Congress calls “the most powerful song of the 20th Century,” has a lot of parents and a brand new lawsuit.

Which government regulations choke the lifeblood out of the songwriting industry?


A guest post in Forbes.com gave David Israelite, the President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, an opportunity to raise awareness about government regulations that stymy songwriters. “Songwriters are the most heavily regulated part of the music industry. A stunning 75% of their income is controlled by the federal government. In 1909, the sale of copies of compositions was put under a compulsory license—meaning anyone could use them, for a government-mandated rate. At that time, the rate was two cents. Now it is only nine cents.”

Around WWII the main non-profit organizations that license songs govt iconand distribute royalties to songwriters (ASCAP and BMI) were dealt a massive blow by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Forced regulations, “consent decrees,” prevented songwriters and music publishers from selling their work in a truly free market.

Israelite, “DOJ has opened a formal review of the regulations governing ASCAP, BMI and the thousands of publishers and songwriters they represent.”

Possible outcome?

  1. Relaxing the 70-year old shackle of the PRO consent decrees,
  2. Allowing ASCAP and BMI to license music creators’ songs in a free market.
  3. Ending policies in the digital age that were created before transistor radios.

Led Zeppelin climbs a stairway to other people’s music. Is anything new?


guitar iconLed Zeppelin’s song “Stairway to Heaven” is being scrutinized by Billboard as it follows a ruling by U.S District Judge R. Gary Klausner that lawyers for the trustee of late songwriter/guitarist Randy Wolfe (of the 1960s rock group Spirit) had shown enough evidence to support a case that the 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven” copies music from the 1966/’67 Spirit song “Taurus.”

Circumstantial evidence: Led Zeppelin and Spirit performed at some concerts and festivals around the same time, but not on the same stage. Klausner wrote that there’s a circumstantial case that Zeppelin may have heard “Taurus” performed.

Incriminating evidence: Digital Music News printed a Roger Plant quote from the bio/book Led Zeppelin IV that notes an instance where Zeppelin copied music: “I think when Willie Dixon turned on the radio in Chicago twenty years after he wrote his blues [You Need Love], he thought, ‘That’s my song [Whole Lotta Love].’ … When we ripped it off, I said to Jimmy, ‘Hey, that’s not our song.’ And he said, ‘Shut up and keep walking.’”

Stairway and Taurus may have a Granddaddy: A nearly identical tune by baroque composer Giovanni Battista Granata, written in 1630, has similar sounds. That melodic line may push both songs into public domain territory.

Someday, will all songs be derivative in one way or another?

This is a great time to have TuneCore Music Publishing Administration in your corner.

SOUND BYTES

Team up with TuneCore Music Publishing Administration.