Record Label FAQ
Q. I've just found out that my music
is already being sold in iTunes Music Store. I didn't
put it there or give anyone permission to do that. How
did it get there?
This is a loaded question and there are a number of possible
answers. In one particular case we came across, there were
3 copies of the same CD in the iTunes Music Store which
really did produce multiple answers. However,
the simplest answer is often the right one so we'll try
that first. There
are two major culprits - the distributor and the pressing
plant. Let's start with the most common situations.
CD Baby - It might seem like I'm singling
out CD Baby, but I'm not. Here's the thing - if you have
an indie pressing and sell your CDs through CD Baby, there's
a very good chance that whoever signed you up with CD baby
also signed their digital distribution agreement
at the same time or at a later time. If so,
when you sent in your first couple of CDs for their inventory,
CD Baby ripped your CD and uploaded it to the online music
stores. There's actually nothing illegal happening here
*IF* the digital distribution agreement was signed because
this agreement gives CD Baby permission to distribute your
The Pressing Plants - I'll lump these
all in together. One of the selling points of certain pressing
plants is their ability to hook you up with distribution.
I can write for a long time on why this isn't as good in
real life as it appears in their sales literature,
but the bottom line is that some of the pressing plants
are providing digital distribution as a "benefit" of using
their CD manufacturing services. You need to check what
you actually signed up for when you had your CDs pressed.
One of your business "partners" -
Because of the nature of this industry, strange relationships
often occur and disintegrate as quickly as they happened
without the benefit of a paper trail. However, because
this is a rights issue you'll still have to do some due
diligence and check out all your paperwork. Yup, go through
all of your contracts again. Manager. Promoter. Bass Player.
Drum Roadie. Recording Engineer. Rehearsal Space. Landlord.
That one night stand gig in Belle Fourche, SD*
(you think I'm kidding). Ex-Wife. Etc. One of them may
have a legitimate clause or option which gives them some
kind of digital distribution rights over your music.
Maybe it's someone that you owe money
to - Yes, this is the point where it all comes flooding
back to memory. Remember how the studio wouldn't give you
your masters until you paid them in full? It may turn
out that someone, to who you owe money, holds some rights
to your recordings and is trying to recover what you owe
them by selling your music. What's worse about this situation,
is that they may actually have a legal right to do this.
So don't rush in with the baseball bats. OK? Who owes who
of these examples covers your situation, then it's probably
time to get a really good attorney.
Q. I applied to iTunes and have been
turned down. Can you put my music onto iTunes?
Communications may be able to distribute
your music in the iTunes Music Store.
However, we have a fairly strict set of criteria. We want
to work with artists and musical genres that actually interest
us. We've worked with way too many people in the past who
have unrealistic expectations. Our experience is that
it's better not to work with
an artist who is not "on the same page". We're
not just talking about "American Idol-syndrome" either.
That way we keep the "friction" down
to a minimum and everyone gets something positive out of
My old band's album hasn't been available for years. We
could never get our label to repress it and we never did
own the masters anyway.
A. Maybe we can brighten your day a little. Or at
least provide a small glimmer of hope. Depending on the type
of contract you had, and if your album hasn't been available
for years and your label contract and options have completely
expired, it is possible that the ownership of the
masters may have reverted back to the band members. It's
a long shot. You will need competent legal advice, and it
will take a lot of research. Anyway, if you don't check,
you'll never find out. It's also possible that an old
label will sell you your masters back in payment for monies
(royalties) owed to you.
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*It's the geographic center of the 50 states of the USA.