Tag Archives: ASCAP

In the News: DD Signs Global Publishing Deal with Warner Chappell

Straight from the Breaking News Department, Google sent an alert this morning letting me know that Duran Duran has inked a global publishing deal with Warner Chappell, a division of Warner Music.

Some of you might wonder if this is the same thing as a record deal and the answer is no, no it is not. At it’s most BASIC, a record deal is for the distribution of the music. Depending upon the details, those deals may include promotion, touring, etc. A publishing deal, is for what is written – the music and/or the lyrics. Music publishers work with the songwriters in the same way a publisher works with an author.

So, in this case, Duran Duran signed a deal with Warner Chappell that encompasses the majority of their catalog, from 1986 to present, including the album that will be released next year. The next question of course, is what that means.

Publishers are responsible for a number of things, but I would say that the four main “headings” they manage are the following: song registration, licensing, royalty collection, and creative matters.

Song registration is, well, kind of boring to explain. It’s nit-picky, legalese-type stuff, but there are performing rights societies (BMI, ASCAP and PRS). Those societies collect, maintain and pay out the royalties to songwriters and publishers. Each society is slightly different as to what categories or types of songwriters or publishers they handle or why certain artists or bands choose one over the other, but they all serve the same basic function. BMI and ASCAP are American societies, and the PRS is the UK equivalent. Bands and artists can only choose to affiliate with one in the US (Publishers help decide which is best for the band in question), and in the UK – they have no choice.

To give an easy example of how BMI, ASCAP and PRS work – radio stations pay for an annual blanket license (which is millions of dollars a year) to BMI, ASCAP and PRS, which allow that station to broadcast what they want, however many times they wish. Then the performing rights society pays the publisher and songwriter based on the number of radio stations that broadcasted the number of their songs. Then the publisher in turn, pays the songwriter if they are owed more.

Then there are other royalties that can be earned. Royalties can be earned for commercially released albums in a retail setting, or for songs that are made available for legal download. That’s when licensing comes into play. This is different depending upon whether you’re in the UK or the US. I only am familiar with US methods – and they can be confusing. So, the publisher has to license a song to a record label to begin with. So, in Duran Duran’s case – they’re writing the new music for the upcoming album. That music will have to be licensed from Warner Chappell to Warner Music Group first before royalties can be paid. Then that music can be put on an album, and then royalties are paid based on how many copies of that album are sold. Those are called “mechanical royalties”, and the publisher reviews those licenses.

Then there are the royalty collections, which of course is some of what was described above, but also includes synchronization royalties. Those are when you take Duran Duran’s music and synchronize it to a moving picture. Those royalties get collected too!

There are plenty of other intricacies involved with royalties that I’m not getting into, so just know that these are only the very minimal basics. DVD’s need another licensing, there’s other agencies that can deal directly with mechanical licensing…it goes on and on, and that’s why bands like Duran Duran sign global publishing deals, because someone else needs to handle it!

So there you have it, a little Duran Duran news, and a teensy bit of learning today. Have a wonderful weekend. I need a nap!


A November Duran Duran Update!

A few things have happened in the past week that we haven’t really covered yet – so here’s the DD update!

ASCAP Golden Note Award

Late last week, Duran Duran was presented with the ASCAP Golden Key Award for songwriting. Simon, Nick and Roger were present for the awards (John Taylor was presumably in LA at his home) at One Embankment. Receiving such an award is a massive achievement and they join the ranks with other past recipients such as Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder and Elton John. To fans, however, this is no surprise. We fell in love with songs like Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf but their talent goes well beyond their hits. Songs like The Chauffeur, Secret Oktober, Palomino, Land, Still Breathing, Planet Roaring and so on, are all perfect examples of why the band is so deserving of being recognized by ASCAP.


In other award news, Duran Duran did not win the EMA for Best Live Stage, despite the best efforts of fans worldwide taking their time to vote. Martin Garrix was this year’s winner…but in our eyes, Duran Duran should have won hands down!

A Lesson in Copyright Law

The Fab Five lives on….this time, as members in a lawsuit over US copyrights. (Do you ever get the feeling that the band will never, ever, be fully rid of one another?  It’s like a marriage with children…you can end the marriage, but the kids are the ties that bind. No matter what!) That’s right, Andy Taylor is once again involved with the band, but only because of a lawsuit against Gloucester Place, part of EMI Music Publishing, which is owned by Sony/ATV – a US company.

This is where copyright law gets complicated. The copyright agreements are with Gloucester Place, and the band served that company notices terminating the grant of US copyrights to Duran Duran works (“works” is a term used quite frequently in entertainment law. The basic meaning is anything the band produces.) Gloucester Plan is asking the High Court (of the UK) to declare that the members have breached their music publishing agreement.

The band, on the other hand, is using US law, where songwriters have an “inalienable right” to call for a reversion to their copyright after 35 years (as an aside – this is where I sit back and ask myself, “Has it really been that long?”).  Nick Rhodes explains, “This provision was instigated to help rebalance the often unfair deals which artists sign early in their careers when they have little choice to try to get their first break, with no negotiating power and virtually no understanding of what their copyrights really mean for the future.” When the band requested the reversion back in 2014, they considered it a mere formality, until Sony (it always comes back to Sony somehow, doesn’t it?? They can’t seem to be rid of Sony either.) decided to challenge their right, calling it a contractual technicality.

According to Ian Mill, the Queen’s Counsel for Gloucester Place, the terms of the writer’s contracts were that they would not “seek to obtain a reversion of their copyrights” under the US copyright law and that they would be in “breach of contract should they do so”.

Since the agreements were made in 1980 – the agreements were made with the band members personally and are referred to as “the writers” – including Andy Taylor. Only Simon, Nick and Roger appeared in court, however.

Ultimately, this implication of this decision goes well-beyond the likes of Duran Duran. Many of our favorite bands of this same period (and beyond) would likely face similar fights in court. Any publisher who chooses to fight the protective measures of the US copyright law would find a home for themselves in the UK and set up shop there.

I’ll be interested to see where this lawsuit goes from here.  All in all, an interesting update for this time of year.



Belfast Telegraph UK