Sunday, May 31, 2009

Songs – The Creative Assets Of Your Business

The fundamentals of any business venture include the notion of business assets. A business undertaking becomes commercially viable because you have something of value that other people want and are willing pay for. In the business of songwriting, that ‘something of value’ is your songs. In this context I like to think of songs as creative assets. Something of value, which you have created, and which other people are willing to pay to engage with.

However, before we further explore the idea of creative assets, let me just say that it can be difficult to approach songwriting with such reductionist notions of commercial value. Songwriting is an art-form, a transcendent mode of expressing heart and soul realities, so trying to quantify the value of art is about as easy as trying to ‘pin a wave upon the sand’, to borrow a phrase from the Sound Of Music. It is important to keep in mind that songwriting needs no commercial outlet to justify it’s own existence. Positive feedback from listeners who have been impacted by your songs can be the most meaningful form of payment you ever receive for your efforts.

Nevertheless, putting aside thoughts about the inherent value of art for now, let us look further into the nature of our creative assets, our songs. In a business sense, songs belong to the world of intellectual property, which is concerned with the protection and management of intangible assets. Such things as inventions, artistic expression & design concepts are preserved as tradable commodities. Just because a song is not a solid thing that can be handled and touched in the same way that say a house or a car can be, does not make it a lesser asset, just a different kind of asset.

In fact, I think that the intangibility of creative assets is an exciting thing and is part of what makes the songwriting business unique and limitless in it’s potential. Let me show you what I mean. Imagine for a moment that you buy an investment property freehold. This property is an asset from which you can generate rental income. Now, the amount of rental income you can generate from your property is limited by the practical constraints of your asset. One house generally will hold one family. However, by comparison, one song can be used in a never-ending procession of commercial outlets and will be limited only by your ability to find opportunities for song placement. To follow the metaphor, your song becomes like a property, which can house as many renters as you can find for it, and there can be an extraordinary amount of ‘rental income’ generated from this one property.

Of course, the catch is, that the song has to be of such a quality that people actually want to ‘live in it’ – but that is the domain of ‘The Creative You’

Friday, May 29, 2009

Two Sides Of The Songwriting Coin - The Creative You & The Business You

So, you’re a songwriter. No doubt you understand very personally the magic of creativity, the thrill of tapping inspiration and saying something in lyric and melody that just can’t quite be said any other way. What you may not understand quite as well is the commercial aspect of songwriting. You may be confused about how best to navigate the world of music publishing with all its complexity – and you would not be alone!

The comforting thing is that becoming knowledgeable about the business side of songwriting is not something you either ‘have or you don’t’. A creative temperament is generally innate; on the flip side, becoming songwriting business savvy involves acquiring knowledge and skills. No natural aptitudes are required other than a willingness to learn and to take advantage of the myriad of materials available to help you achieve personal songwriting goals.

If you are serious about your songwriting and want to get your songs out into the world beyond your bedroom, it is best to think of yourself as having two distinct roles in your quest. Just as there are two sides to every coin, which make up part of the whole, so creativity and business knowledge are the dual aspects of serious songwriting endeavours.

The first role belongs to ‘The Creative You’. In this role your job is to continually be developing and refining the quality of your songwriting. The first and best way is simply to write, write and write some more! Your own ear is your most accessible teacher, and the ability to critically evaluate your own work is a great way to improve your songwriting skills. There are also a myriad of resources available, which can help you to tap inspiration and develop your songwriting craft. In future blog posts, I will point you to a variety of books, podcasts and web sites which I have personally found very valuable in helping me develop as a songwriter.

The second role belongs to ‘The Business You’. This role is concerned with learning the fundamentals of the music publishing world, song rights management, copyright, relevant industry bodies, licensing and contract fundamentals. This understanding of the fundamentals empowers you to explore opportunities for your songs without feeling on the back foot. The business role is also concerned with finding ways to proactively promote your songs and explore opportunities to generate income from your songs. We will explore the basics of music publishing concepts in future posts and also look at a variety of helpful resources available to help you.

I look forward to joining together with you on your songwriting quest!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Songwriting & Music Publishing Tips On The Way!

The goal of this blog is to be a useful resource for Aussie & Kiwi songwriters, especially those who have the creative side down pat, but don't yet know much about how to deal with the business side of songwriting. As a songwriter who fell by accident into the world of music publishing and song catalogue management, my intention is to pass on what I have learned to my fellow creatives who love to write and who want to do something with their songs.

There will be regular postings here, building a basic framework of understanding of your songs as creative assets, copyright law, industry bodies in Australia/New Zealand - who they are and what they do, licensing - what it is and how to go about it, links to other helpful sites that will be valuable, and more as we go along!

Feel free to subscribe or just drop by when the mood takes you!
I look forward to seeing you around.