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Top Songwriting and Music Business News Stories of the Week

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

With the U.S. Presidential Inauguration upon us, this week has been particularly eventful in a lot of respects.

  • Songwriters Take Front and Center at Presidential Inauguration

  • Paul McCartney sues Sony over his copyright reversions

  • Garth Brooks folds Ghost Tunes into Amazon Music

  • BMLG launches Big Machine TV (alternative to YouTube)

Let’s unpack each of these from the Songpreneurs perspective:

Songwriters Take Front and Center at the Inauguration

So far, there have been two separate mentions honoring songwriters at the Presidential inauguration ceremonies.

Soul singer Sam Moore was given specific songwriter credit for his version of “America,” and during the Front Men of Country performance of “God Bless The USA,” the songwriter and original artist Lee Greenwood was given credit and recognition as he joined the stage.

While this might seem like a small thing, when you consider the fact that most Americans don’t think about songwriters, or know that all songs are not written by the performers, it’s a big deal.

As a non-partisan spectator, this is certainly a good step in the direction of establishing stronger protections for creators’ rights. Go 2017!

Paul McCartney versus Sony

Paul McCartney is suing Sony to reclaim his rights to his songwriting catalog written as one of the original Beatles.

When McCartney partnered with Michael Jackson back in the ‘80s on “The Girl Is Mine” for the Thriller album, he taught Michael the importance of owning copyrights.

Later, when McCartney’s songwriter copyrights came up for sale, Jackson outbid him and ended up with them for a number of years, causing some understandable tension between the two.

Michael Jackson worked with Sony/ATV to exploit McCartney’s catalog until Sony acquired the rights to McCartney’s catalog in 2016.

Now, McCartney has filed a lawsuit in New York hoping to force Sony into accepting his copyright recapture notices.

A songwriter has the right to terminate his publishing agreements after a certain number of years as long as they follow the procedure set up by the U.S. Copyright law.

Those laws were put into place to help early Tin Pan songwriters regain copyrights that were signed away in ignorance of their true value.

But the catch is that recently Sony was able to keep Duran Duran from reclaiming their copyrights, pushing them to a U.K. Court that sided with Sony.

According to some reports, McCartney is pushing to get his case heard in a U.S. Court so that his case will be tried according to U.S. Law, but there is probably another motivation, too.

McCartney’s catalog is currently administered by Google backed Kobalt, and a legal precedent showing that statute trumps contract agreements could have broader implications, including forcing U.S. and foreign copyright owners to agree to the statutory streaming performance rates negotiated through the consent decree bound performing rights organizations.

Is this good for songwriters or bad? In this case, we’ll have to adopt the old Tibetan folk tale answer – we shall see.

Ghost Tunes / Amazon Music

When Garth Brooks entered the digital music world upon the release of his 2014 come back album Man Against Machine, he created GhostTunes as an alternative digital marketplace to Apple Music and Amazon.

This week, GhostTunes subscribers were invited to download their GhostTunes libraries and transfer them to Amazon Music under the new partnership.

Amazon is promoting a new Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service for as low as $7.99 per month featuring tens of millions of songs including all the Garth Brooks albums. Sign up for your free trial here. [link goes to author’s Amazon affiliate page]

Big Machine TV

Scott Borchetta is innovating again with the newly announced Big Machine TV that will feature exclusive content from Big Machine artists including Reba, Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and others.

Instead of sending traffic to YouTube or other platforms, BMLG (Big Machine Label Group) is creating a place for their artists’ fans to connect directly with the artists and content without unwanted third party advertising.

This is good for Big Machine artists, because with their full time team keeping unlicensed user generated knock offs of their songs off YouTube, they are able to successfully create a situation of favorable demand and supply.

Their hit artists music will only be made available on their proprietary platform, and if the fans want to see the new Taylor Swift, they’ll have to go to Big Machine TV to see it.

This same system wouldn’t work as well for smaller artists, because according to reports, Big Machine employs a full time team of 20 or more people to keep illegal versions of their material off the internet. A single artist or small label with fewer resources wouldn’t be able to stop the flood gate leaking their profits out to the world for free.

But Big Machine can, and they are getting ready to do just that.

While this might not help small artists and songwriters just yet, it will again increase the public awareness that they can get a better user experience when they connect directly with artists on their own dedicated websites rather than being inundated by ads, pop ups and distractions.


That’s the wrap up for this week. Make sure you subscribe to our email list, and set your options for “weekly” in the frequency so you don’t miss something important.

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