Ask a Music Lawyer: Is the Poor Man's Copyright Enough to Protect Your Songs?
The traditional "poor man’s copyright" is a practice where you take a work you've created, put it in an envelope, and mail it to yourself via the United States Postal Service. Because the Postal Service would stamp the envelope with a postmark that had the date of mailing, it's argued that the date on the envelope proves that the work was created on or before that date. Otherwise, if you hadn’t created it yet, how would you have mailed it to yourself?
The landscape of the music industry, though constantly changing, remains steady on several key ingredients that consistently produce the songs we hear every day. Reversing the steps from songwriting to radio-ready, one element we tend to see commonly is the collaboration of several songwriters. While there is no concrete outline to achieve a successful chemistry in this type of writing, there are a number of things a solo writer will want to take into account before setting out to broaden the scope of possibilities as a co-writer.
I ran across this on the MusicConsultant.com website. Great points if you want to make a living as a songwriter and musician in Nashville.
Build a solid business foundation.
Figure out how money is made in this industry and how publishing works. Register with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC and SoundExchange. Make sure you have a business entity established and trademark your name.
I’ve been asked several times about my experiences in Nashville. So, from the prospective of a fledgling songwriter, who lives 2500 miles from Nashville, and who tries to make the trek a couple of times a year, here’s what I discovered.
When you come to Nashville, if you want to make connections in the music industry, don’t go around handing out CDs of your music to anyone who will take one. It will make you look like an amateur and you won’t be taken seriously. There are many, many singers and writers and people in the music business are too busy to listen to something from a total stranger. It won’t be easy to get heard, but it will be a little less difficult if you use the right approach.
Seeking out criticism of your songs can feel like asking someone to trample on your dreams. Like, “Hey there, here’s something I put my entire heart and soul into. I’d love for you to tear it apart for me!”
… said no one ever.
For someone who’s never shown their work to anyone before, the thought of opening up to the opinions of others can be terrifying. Even worse — what if no one likes what you write?
Songwriting is such a tricky and elusive art to pursue and sharpen. It's an individual process, and there's no right or wrong way to write. Oftentimes, songwriters will find a process or writing style that works for them and stick to it. However, I've found over the years that my songwriting will start to plateau if I'm not actively seeking to improve and hone some of the skills behind them. With that in mind, here are some challenges and tips that you can try to help avoid stagnation in your songwriting sessions.
As a songwriter, Leon's songs have hit the charts across all genres and have been covered by a diverse range of artists. Ray Charles recorded 'A Song For You', B.B. King had a hit with 'Hummingbird', The Carpenters with 'Superstar' and Joe Cocker with 'Delta Lady'.
The Carpenter's cover of "Superstar", written by Leon and Bonnie Bramlett, went to #2 on the pop music charts. George Benson won the "Record of the Year" Grammy in 1976 for his cover of Leon's song, "This Masquerade", and it became the first song in music history to hit #1 on the jazz, pop and R&b charts.
Nashville Ear awards the Best of the Best honor to the songwriter that we feel stood out with exceptional songwriting and performances. Please join us in congratulating this years award winner Chris Gantry.