I'm writing for two young ladies at the moment, Katharina and Yasmin, both with a decidedly commercial focus. The outcome is undecided, of course: will they accept or reject my lyrics, will they eventually produce the songs, will the songs be published? Whatever the outlook, at this stage my usual "creative commons" licensing is kind of suspended, at least with regard to the lyrics I write for my new partners. The same applies for collaborative lyrics writing: whenever partners are involved the copyright - or rather: licensing - terms are, let's say, undefined. I rewrote Sonya's - that's Hot Mama - song "labyrinth" the other day.
In all these cases it is 'writing to match their tunes' or 'music first', as opposed to collaborations where my partners set my lyrics to music. Actually, in such cases no true collaboration is needed since the lyrics already exist. Only working with Craig Pavone is slightly different. Craig picks lyrics from my collections every once in a while, creates music to match their meter and attitude, then we refine lyrics (me) and music (he) iteratively. In the process I also can work on improving my language skills - with regard to American English - since Craig often has suggestions for alternative words or phrases.
So, does this mean that I am going commercial? I actually have been commercial all the time, if with rather little success if it comes to money. I only have excluded the non-commercial use of my own stuff on the internet from the contract with my PRO (performing rights organization; actually the German GEMA handles mechanical rights as well). Which means that my own stuff - ** where no other partners are involved ** - can be shared and disseminated over the internet, even within a commercial, ad-financed context like Facebook, Youtube and the like. Private copies and private use outside the internet are legal anyway, at least in Germany. The difference lies in the scope: what you allow to be shared over the internet for free you will hardly be able to sell at the same time.
There is a 'hidden agenda' to my approach. My licensing model allows everybody, mainly hobby musicians, to use my lyrics in their own songs. They don't have to ask me. This helps spreading my lyrics. Should every once in a while a performing artist or band pick my lyrics they automatically 'migrate' into the commercial zone - and begin generating royalties. There has not been a hit yet, though, yet a considerable, and ever increasing number of my lyrics is being performed. What that means in terms of money I will be able to tell by the end of April, when the royalties for 2013 are distributed. And of course there is the recognition as a lyricist or songwriter (I'm working on the latter).
It's a mystery to me why other lyricists do not adopt my model, yet sit on their lyrics, insisting on keeping complete control over copyright and licensing, and hoping to be discovered by some famous artist some day. Most likely, that way their lyrics are deemed useless. Maybe it's all the better for me - there is little competition ;-)
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