(From L to R: 300 Entertainment’s Mark Robinson, WPU’s Dr. Steve Marcone, and WPU’s Professor David Kirk Philp)
On September 20, 2018, the head of Legal and Business Affairs at 300 Entertainment, Mark Robinson, made his first visit to William Paterson University as the Music & Entertainment Industry program’s 2018/2019 Expert-In-Residence. Mark spoke to Dr. Esteban Marcone’s Structure & Content of the Music & Entertainment Industry class, which you could also call Music Biz 101 Pt. II class. The class learned about Robinson’s entry into the industry and the path to his current position.
“It’s important how you start and how you leave,” he said in reference to jobs in the industry. You never know when you’re going to see the people you work with again.
CLEARING THE SAMPLES
Robinson spoke about a Young Thug album on its way to the market. He and his staff had 24 hours to clear all samples on the record. That’s tough. But the following situation came up…
When an artist (or their manager or producer) submits the album to the label, the label asks if there are any samples on the record. If the artist says no, the label will listen to the record, just to double check. If they think they hear something, they may hire a musicologist to determine if there was a sample. If there was a sample, the label has to clear it. “But if the sample includes Prince or Marvin Gaye,” for example, “we just take it off the record.” It is very difficult, if not impossible, to license samples of songs by those two artists.
Now, the artist, in effect, lied in the case. The label was told there were no samples, but there may have been. What does the label do? First, they do their best to clear the samples. They know that it could be the artist or the producer who put the samples on the album. Is it worth starting a fight? Robinson didn’t think so. They’re checking anyway, so they just deal with what they’re told, by whomever, and do their jobs.
Also, does Robinson and his staff tell artists and A&R execs not to include samples of Prince or Marvin Gaye or other non-clearable artists, since those songs will just get pulled from the album and never released anyway? “You’re dealing with creators,” he said. You can’t stop the creative process.
TYPE OF PUBLISHING AGREEMENTS
Traditional Deal – Writer gets 100% of writer’s side, Publisher gets 100% of publisher’s side
Co-Publishing Deal – Writer gets 100% of writer’s side AND 50% of the Publisher’s side. The Publisher gets 50% of their side. The writer, in this deal, sold a portion of the copyright to the publisher.
Administration Deal – The Administrator gets a 10% or 15% fee but don’t own anything.
The writer’s share “is a passive share; it’s an income stream, that’s all it is,” Mark said. He gave the example of Primary Wave, which owns the writer’s side of the Nirvana catalog (or the Kurt Kobain part). Primary Wave doesn’t own the publisher’s side, however.
PUBLISHING INCOME STREAMS
Mechanical Income – Where the statutory rate comes in; a sale or an interactive digital transmission triggers this.
Print Income – Sheet music
Synchronization Income – When a song is in a film or commercial; marrying music with a moving image.
Performance (PRO) Income – When a song is played at a club or on TV or on the radio. A stream on Spotify also pays a performance rights royalty.
Interesting fact: The blanket license paid to a PRO by the NFL, for example, allows for Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson to perform “Uptown Funk” live on TV during the Super Bowl without permissions from any of the writers. But, if the NFL were to rebroadcast the game, at that point a synch license is needed. It’s not a live broadcast anymore. It’s been pre-recorded, so there is now a different right, or license needed, because of this marriage of music with moving image.
There. Now you’re smart. Robinson comes back multiple times over the rest of the academic year. Stay tuned.
For full details about the Music & Entertainment Industries Program, including courses, the minor, and our MBA, click HERE.
For full details about the WPU Pop Music Studies Program, including courses and audition requirements, click HERE.
Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music & Entertainment Industries and Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too). Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band – 6th Edition. Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.