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brought to the attention of Frank Sinatra. From the time that Mr. Sinatra recorded “That's Life," I became established as a successful songwriter and as a result have been able to build a career in the music industry.
That, in a nutshell, is what music publishers do. They promote songs and help songwriters. What my publisher did for me, the Welk Music Group and many other music publishers have done for a host of others. Songs do not automatically come to the attention of those who record, produce, and use music. There are hundreds of thousands of songs out there, all competing for the attention of artists, producers, and the public. The publisher's job is to maximize the value of the songs in his catalog, to get as many uses as often as is possible-in recordings, advertising campaigns, movies, television shows, and concerts. The job requires a substantial investment in time, effort, and money. It also requires a willingness to take risks with unknown songs and unknown songwriters, as well as a recognition that most songs do not become hits or standards.
Let me give you some examples of what we do as music publishers. We nurture talent. We presently have under contract 50 songwriters. We give many of them cash advances. We manage their careers. We advise them of commercial opportunities, provide them with places to write, and provide them with modern recording studios to work in.
We promote our songs every day. I have a dozen people on the street who do nothing but promote-not only the new songs, but the catalog material as well. We have submitted, as an example for your review, a publication that we call "Ideas." It presents our catalog in several different ways, each one designed to appeal to a different need of potential music users.
We maintain close relationships with artists and producers and users so that we can bring to a song the attention it deserves.
We even computerized our entire catalog, which currently is at about 30,000 songs, so that we can present those songs to producers in any number of ways, according to any characteristics they might choose.
We do special promotions, as well. I think a good example is the promotion that we have carried on for this entire year, to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Jerome Kern. Our investment in this promotion has been to date about $150,000. It has resulted in 11 newly recorded albums featuring Kern's work and the rerelease of 7 others, accounting for 291 releases of Jerome Kern's titles during this year alone. Our promotion has also inspired a hit musical which is on its way to Broadway. It has also inspired the use of Kern's music on radio and television, worldwide, and new print uses.
These kinds of activities are what keep the songwriting industry active and profitable. Publishers are not passive middlemen who do nothing but receive and count royalties. The publisher is the industry's mover and shaker, one who sees to it that worthwhile songs find as many uses as possible. I do not think it is unfair or unreasonable to reward publishers for such activities. After all, you have to promote a lot of songs to obtain even a small repertoire of standards that keep generating royalties over the years. It is the publishers' share of these royalties that gives them the financial ability and the incentives to encourage new talent and promote new songs.
The songwriter and the publisher are partners in an enterprise that has to be both creative and commercial if anybody is to benefit. If the proposed bill becomes law, publishers would have less incentive and also less financial ability to promote songs. That surely would not be a good thing for songwriters, and it surely would not help those who recapture copyrights in songs, especially when the songs approach termination.
Thank you very much.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DEAN KAY
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT-GENERAL MANAGER,
WELK MUSIC GROUP
My name is Dean Kay.
I am the Executive Vice President
General Manager of Welk Music Group, a music publishing company
headquartered in Santa Monica, California.
I am also a song
My best known work is probably the song "That's Life,"
popularized by Frank Sinatra.
Because I am both a music publisher and a composer, I do
not approach the issue at hand as a question of "us versus them"
or of who are the good guys and who are the bad.
I am intimately
aware of the contributions of both the songwriter and the pub
lisher in the arduous process of creating and exploiting a
commercially successful song. I therefore believe that the proper approach in commenting on the bill is to focus on the
historic and on-going partnership between songwriters and music publishers. I entirely disagree with and reject the notion that music publishers are mere "middlemen" who passively reap the rewards of songwriters' creativity.
The partnership between songwriters and music publishers
has continuously resulted in the creation and dissemination of a
grand catalogue of musical compositions for the enjoyment of the
public and to the mutual betterment of songwriters and publishers alike. The success of the partnership requires the activity of both the writer and the publisher, activity that was depicted at
great length in the hearings leading to passage of the Copyright
Act of 1976, including its derivative works exception. District Judge Edward Weinfeld and a majority of the Supreme Court in the Mills Music case acknowledged that historic partnership, and it
should be recognized and protected in any consideration of an
amendment to the derivative works exception.
Although the publisher's role has been presented to
Congress by various witnesses in the past, I want to reiterate
and amplify on those presentations because attempts have been made to obscure the true nature of this role through the use of a
In the Mills Music case, the songwriter's heirs
the songwriter himself
tried to hang on music publishers the
pejorative term "middlemen" and to suggest that publishers are nothing more than passive recipients of undeserved royalties. This attempt to litigate through labels was rebuffed, as should be any similar attempt to seek legislative amendment through inapt labels or misleading characterizations.
It is easy, though seldom fair, to attach labels to
people when attempting to minimize what they actually do.
traders can be termed middlemen between purchasers and sellers,
but without these market makers few shares would change hands.
Merchants can be termed middlemen between manufacturers and
consumers, but if retail promotional efforts were eliminated, few
goods would leave the factory.
In each illustration, a look
behind the label reveals the important role played by one who
searches out a product, promotes it and makes certain that it
reaches the public.
The Crucial Role of Music Publishers
In the entertainment industry, as in every commercial
environment, a performance or a product has many contributors.
You cannot have a successful motion picture without a screenplay,
but the screenwriter cannot do it alone.
On the creative side,
there are also the director, the designer, the cinematographer,
the technicians and, of course, the performers. On the financial side, there are the producers, the distributors and the invest
It is only the blending of creators, risk-takers and
promoters that permits success.
It is the same in the music industry.
You cannot have a
song without a composer, but you rarely have a performance or a
recording without a music publisher. When I wrote "That's Life, the song did not go directly from my lead sheet to wide public acceptance, any more than any other song becomes a hit just
because a songwriter has thought up a clever lyric or a catchy
ity of the publishers' role is that songwriters still enter into agreements with publishers. Indeed, songwriters literally line
up at our door, seeking our assistance.
This is not surprising
once one understands what music publishers actually do.
Our role begins even before the first bar of a song has
been conceived. My company, for example, now has some fifty songwriters under contract. We manage their careers. We provide
them with cash advances to permit them to write.
We maintain and
make available to them modern sound studios
track recording equipment and state-of-the-art synthesizers where they can experiment and create. (We are currently con
structing a new twenty-four track recording facility in Nashville.) By keeping in touch with what is happening in the industry, we try to steer the composers toward compositions that will be commercially successful.
When a work has been created, the publisher begins to
Welk currently maintains offices in Hollywood, Nash
ville, New York and London from which to promote our songs.
dozen of our employees work full time in promotional efforts.
regularly produce demonstration recordings and, at times,
professionally recorded albums to get our songs before the
We also prepare what are known in the trade as "pitch