New rule may help Nashville songwriters
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Songwriters in Nashville and elsewhere are about to get added royalties thanks to a 1976 copyright act whose provisions are kicking in.
The act allows songwriters broader publishing rights to songs, but it could set up battles against corporate song publishers who have owned the music and controlled who could use it commercially and at what price.
Generally speaking, the domestic publishing rights to songs granted to publishers starting in 1978 are eligible to be recaptured 35 years after the date of the grant. If the song rights were granted before 1978, they will take 56 years to recapture.
“It already is changing the face of how publishing works these days,” said Brent McBride, the son of songwriter Jim McBride and owner with brother Wes of Copyright Recapture in Nashville.
Their business was started about six years ago with the sole purpose of helping songwriters get the rights to their songs back.
“For families, it can mean a tremendous amount” of money, McBride told The Tennessean newspaper. “You’re not doubling their income, but you’re increasing it substantially.”
He said some old country tunes still earn $100,000 to $200,000 annually.
Others could earn as little as a few thousand dollars a year, up to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the song, said Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
“It’s a needed shot in the arm,” Herbison said of the copyright rules.
“Songwriting is a lot like being a professional athlete. You’re hot for a certain period of time. A lot of people that are recapturing songs from 1978 haven’t had a hit since 1978.”
“Eye of the Tiger,” which was “granted” in 1982, will be eligible for recapture in 2017. Songs granted to record labels or publishers in 1978 become eligible in 2013, and so on.
Because the actual recapture of rights can get complicated – and take years to resolve – many songwriters or their heirs are already starting the process of reclaiming 35-year-old songs.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com