You know, this music business is a funny business. Its a different business because we don't sell widgets. We sell songs which are also known as intellectual property. As with any kind of property you own you have to protect it. If you have a house, you get an alarm, a dog, or a gun. With songs you have to do the same.
There is an old saying: it's a thin line between famous and broke.
Alot of artists are so caught up in the glamour and glitz, fame and glory that they don't learn about copyrights and music publishing until their money is gone. By then its too late and that hit song that you made and thought you owned was really owned by someone else WHO KNEW about copyrighting the music.
I can site numerous examples of artists getting screwed out of their money because they didn't know about copyrights and publishing. They go hand in hand.
The other day I posted a link to an article about the late J. Dilla (R.I.P.) and how his estate was getting ripped off because people wanted to use his name and music for profit and didn't want to pay his estate.
Our songs are our assets. They are what makes us money for years. They can make us money for generations if we protect them. I mean wouldn't you love to have control of James Brown's mega hit "I Feel Good"?
Imagine if he hadn't copyrighted it and exploited it...and somebody ELSE did!!!
Here's another old school, real life example from the Hiphop world. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, The D.O.C. was the man. He had several guess spots on N.W.A. records and his solo album was off the chain. Due to his youth, he didn't understand publishing and the infamous Eazy-E, traded him a gold chain for his publishing rights. Yep, you read that right. A GOLD CHAIN!!!
Now imagine how much money James Brown's song had made and what his life would've been like if he traded his rights for a freakin' gold chain back when he made "I Feel Good". We probably wouldnt've even heard of James at all.
I can't stress enough that the music business is a business and it requires constant education. With any business you want to start, you have to get education. Even if you wanted to own a McDonald's restaurant, you would have to go to Hamburger University...sounds funny but its true.
Fortunately, getting a good education about the music business is not as expensive as owning a Mickey D's but being uneducated will cost you more in the long run.
Here is another recent copyright issue I found on the Internet with Soulja Boy.
News: Possible proof that Soulja Boy has not infringed on copyrights
If you are serious, I hope you will take what I'm saying to you to the heart and head. I'd hate to see you lookin' broke as hell like MC Hammer.
Let's Make It Happen!!!
Mello Melanin, The Hot Instrumentalist
P.S. If you would like to get more info on copyrights and other legal documents such as producer agreements (my real beat makers will need these!!!) click here.