|Scott Turner's Song Publisher's Perspective|
by Scott Turner
Once again, please excuse the title of this column, mainly because it's the name of one of my publishing firms, but it suits the theme of this column.
A very interesting subject popped up today at our daily breakfast confab. It remotely related to the recent sale of three Nashville powerhouse entities to a group headed by Edgar Seagram Co. who built Universal Music into the biggest music company in the world before selling it to Vivendi several years ago. Mr. Bronfman is a very intelligent music man and once the transaction is approved by regulators, his group will own the Time Warner Music Holdings which includes Warner Bros. Records, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing and Word Entertainment, the second largest Christian music company behind EMI. A related article mentioned that Warner/Chappell Music owns over 1,000,000 (one million) copyrights and that really tweaked Ted Harris' interest. Why? Because when Ted was signed to both RCA and Mercury Records, many of his great songs were/are with Warner/Chappell Music. Granted, this was before Ted struck with "Crystal Chandelier" and "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle", but his Warner/Chappell songs are still ultra-competitive. Ted named two of them - "Lonesome Avenue", written in '59 and "Just Thought I'd Set You Straight" . The conversation then moved to other giant publishing conglomerates who have acquired companies through buy-outs and there are still old pros living in Nashville who know these catalogs like the back of their hand.
These seasoned writers know of songs in the various catalogs that could be re-demoed and become top ten contenders. With one million songs in a catalog, it would be quite a task for the current general managers to weed through some of the forgotten gems and that's why some of the original writers should be re-hired as consultants to glean out the 'buried treasure'.
Personally, I was the general manager of Central Songs in the early 60's and I know of songs written by staff writers that are definite 2003 contenders. Central Songs is now owned by EMI, staffed by people I don't know and, naturally, their concentration should be focused on the current writers. That makes good business sense, but as Ted stated, "Let's not forget about those former jewels that, for one, reason or another (perhaps an inferior demo or cuts that didn't quite come off in the sessions) could actually generate important dollars if shown to a major artists."
If you as a writer have a song that once created excitement with a publisher and is now buried in the catalogue, Im' certain that it would be a nice surprise to discover that 'somebody" found that song, re-demoed it and it is soon to be recorded by a hit artist - like I say, there are "buried treasures" in many of the Nashville-based firms. Great idea, Ted!