Monday, 9 June 2014

Part 3: Do The Paperwork

yes, this is the stage you've all been waiting for - doing the paperwork... thanks very much to all the labels who have helped out with putting this together (Tom Fika Recordings, Frances Clay Pipe Music, Trev Oddbox, Tim Kingfisher Bluez, Nick Occultation, Ian Fishrider and Luis Elefant)




Do The Paperwork:

Remember, this is just an overview, for the specifics you should always seek proper legal advice.

So, you've found THE BAND, and RECORDED THE SONGS you want to release, now to the PAPERWORK!

Firstly make sure you (the label) and the band/artist know what your responsibilities are, perhaps a quick email, so it's clear, and you both have something to refer to. The basics like who owns (basically, has paid for) what, what you both can do with it, and what will be given in return should cover it.

For example, perhaps the band have paid for their recordings, you plan to licence those recordings to manufacture 300 12" coloured vinyl records, and release digitally in Europe - in return you are giving the band 10% of the stock, and agree to promote and distribute the record (laying out a rough plan) and to split any profit (!) 50/50 once all of your costs have been recouped, perhaps with a timescale... Put it in writing, so you all understand what's going on.

I find regular "meetings" (pub chats) really help here too - make sure everyone's doing what they said they would, etc. - they also throw up some good new ideas.

If you feel something more, um, contractual is necessary think about joining the Musicians Union, or AIM - both will offer excellent advice.

Once you all have a rough idea what the plan is it's time for the grown up stuff...

In the UK there are three professional organisations you and the band may need to register the record/songs with:

1. the MCPS licences the use of songs on behalf of its writer and publisher members whenever their works are distributed to the public – this means that before making your record you should get a licence from the MCPS to do so – usually this will be an AP2 licence (MCPS offer a waiver for people releasingtheir own material so you don’t need to pay yourself).
2. Record labels might also want to join PPL - the UK society that collects and distributes airplay and public performance royalties on behalf of the owner of the sound recording. If you are asked for an ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) number, this is where you need to go. As well as your audio tracks  you can register videos with PPL - you can assign them separate IRSC codes, which go in to the YouTube metadata to collect revenue from views.
3. If your band regularly performs their own material at licenced venues, or if you publish the tracks you are releasing you should consider registering with the PRS.

Then, you should include the correct copyright notices on your record sleeves and inlay cards:

1. the (p) (it stands for Phonogram) symbol refers to the owner of the copyright of the sound recordings, and should be followed by the year of release and owners name,
2. the (c) (Copyright) symbol refers to the product package (i.e. the order of tracks, the artwork, sleeve notes etc.) and should be followed by  year of first publication, and the name of the first owner.

There will come a time when the band asks you how their record is doing, so you should keep track of manufacture, press and promotion outlay from the off - just adding your costs to a simple spreadsheet as they are incurred is far simpler than filling an envelope with receipts.
And then, once you have the final disc you need to keep track of sales. Whether you are selling the record direct or through a distributor, you need to keep an eye on where your stock is, for example:

How many copies have been sold?
How many copies are with the distributor?
How many have you sent direct to shops?
Are these sale-or-return or cash-up-front, and what were the unit costs?
How many have you sold at gigs or record fairs?

Now you’ve done the preparation, you just need to make sure you do everything you promised to, keep track of costs & sales and (I know it’s obvious (and easier said than done)) try not to let it build up – everything else will be much more fun without a looming pile of paperwork.


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