Title: Single Song Assignments. Why would you sign up to a one song songwriting deal?

  1. Friday, October 26, 2012 11:29:38 AM
    Richard Rogers
    Single song assignments. Ever heard of them? What are they? Well simply put they are a contract agreement for simply one song. So why would a publisher sign a songwriter to only one song on a deal? The answer to this was that in the early days of competitions such as the Eurovision Song Contest, San Remo Festival, Yamaha Festival etc that because there was a chance that the winner of the competition would make good money for both the songwriter and the publisher that it was worth the publishing companies signing all 20 songs in the finals on the basis that they were hedging their bets in the hope that they had perhaps a 1 in 20 chance of winning the competition which was a high chance of winning. Therefore all the big players on the publishing scene would sniff round the 20 finalists for instance and choose 3 or 4 that they thought might win it. Again you are looking at good A&R persons to find the better songs. (See A&R Topics on Music2deal and join the group.) However the publishers did not wish to sign the songwriters up on long term contract agreement deals as they felt they might be wasting their money if the songs were unsuccessful and of course 19 out of 20 would be unsuccessful in winning the competition or making any kind of monies/royalties. When I set up my own publishing company in the early 1990's (almost 20 years ago) I had songwriters that I really liked that might send me 50 songs and i'd sign them up for the whole quota on their agreements but within 10 years as an independent publisher it was simpler to have the songwriter signed for only the songs i liked and thought i could pitch or sell to the general public. Therefore the songwriter might send me 50 songs and i'd only take one because i only thought one could be exploited for general commercial use in whatever form that might be and would sign them to a Single Song Assignment. Some songwriters ironically did not like this way of working being signed to a single song assignment while other lovers it. Why? Some liked the idea of a single song assignment because it meant i could sign the songwriter exclusively for the one song only and for me not to worry about their other 49 songs in their repertoire that i felt I could not do anything with in terms of exploitation. This means they could sign to my publishing company for one song on a Monday morning and on the same afternoon they could sign to say EMI or Sony for the other 49 songs. The songwriter would not have a publishing company that had 50 songs that would not be proactive in exploiting 49 of those 50 songs if they had signed to my independent company. However some songwriters wanted to have a publisher that took on all 50 songs but the big problem here is when they were signed to me and I wasn't proactive in exploiting 49 of their repertoire some would become upset and disappointed. In general and trying to play devil's advocate here I feel that Single Song Assignments are a good way for a publisher to sort the wheat out from the chaff and with good A&R ensuring that you don't miss out on great songs a publisher. meanwhile the songwriter has the advantage of having a publishing contract agreement (albeit for one song) and therefore has a greater chance of being signed to a secondary publisher as the a secondary publisher would also see that another publisher has already taken an interest in the songwriter. Therefore I believe Single Song Assignments are a very good thing indeed but would be interested in all your views whether as fellow publishers or songwriters etc. What is your opinion on them? I may stick this topic onto the South African section on Music Business too on the Music2deal site so please cross reference any threads with this too please.
  2. Thursday, April 23, 2015 6:58:19 AM
    Michael Leahy
    Most of the contracts I have signed have been single-song, with the exception of whole albums (which are arguably multi-single song!). It's the way the market is structured. The publishing only really comes into the picture when the release is secured i most cases (for me, at least). In these cases, the publisher's role is admin and development. Michael