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Public domain standards?

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by dbass87, May 20, 2011.


  1. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    Are a lot of jazz standards from the 50's and 60's considered public domain now? I was thinking for recording purposes, paying royalties, etc. I'm thinking songs like So What, All Blues, Cantaloupe Island, Adam's Apple...
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Nope. But two things to remember (REMEMBER by Irving Berlin was published in 1925 and thus is NOT in Public Domain):
    1. you only pay for what you use - generally the head in and the head out. Everything in between is original work on "similar harmonic material" and is royalty free. So even if the track is 10 minutes, you only pay for 90 seconds.
    2. you only pay for what you sell - Sort of. PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL gets paid for at a different, lower rate than COMMERCIAL (ie product)material, so out of a pressing of 3,000 units if 1,200 are earmarked for PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY (and clearly labeled as such) you pay about half the amount for the those.
     
  3. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    Thank you. So if it's for demo purposes, this would be promotional use I assume...
     
  4. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Alabama
    You've got to go back before my lifetime for the public domain! ;)

    I've heard popular artists performing songs from the public domain. Hubert Laws (Julliard) comes to mind. His flute recording of Amazing Grace
    is the first jazz version of the song that showed up in my CD collection.

    Here's a link to many songs in the public domain with a price tag for the recordings/compilation.
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If you're not going to SELL it, you don't really have to worry about anything. If you're going to stream or let it be downloadable from a website, THEN you have something to worry about. But if all you're doing is handing a CD to a clubwoner, you don't really have any need to clear rights.
     
  6. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    Ok, good to know, thanks. Branching off a bit, what's the typical number of songs most jazz groups put on a demo? 3-4?
     
  7. Rebop

    Rebop

    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    I put quite a few in different styles. Latin, swing, bop, etc. But I usually only have about a minute or so of the best part of each example for them to listen to.
     
  8. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    So you're only recording partial songs then? I guess you could do a head and a solo for each piece and whoever's listening to it would get the gist of it...
     
  9. Rebop

    Rebop

    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    I've always just recorded full gigs and then just isolated a few excerpts that I feel showcase whatever act I'm promoting best (with nice fade-in and fade-outs if it's too abrupt otherwise). Most people booking bands don't want to listen to 50 choruses of a sax solo or 5 minute ballads. They just want to make sure you don't scare anyone already there away; and ideally, if you're good you'll draw a crowd. Keep it short and sweet.
     
  10. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    So if we're recording an in-studio demo, we could just keep it pretty simple with a head, couple solos, head and out... And we could choose the 3 or 4 songs that best represent us to record? Do you ever tell a clubowner when giving him your demo, "listen to track 3 and 4 for our funkier stuff" or "tracks 1 and 2 are our straight-ahead jazz tunes", depending on the show they need ?
     
  11. Rebop

    Rebop

    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    If you're giving the person booking the gig a proper press kit, chances are they will just skip through the CD to get the gist of what you do and how you sound. It's been over a decade since I've had to do any of this as every group I've played with lately has had at least some sort of album (homebrew or otherwise) to include with a presskit (not quite a demo to get gigs as we sell them to fans as well).
    When I was doing it like you, and still to this day, I go in and try to just be real personable with whomever is doing the booking. I really try not to talk about the music we play too much. More of a getting to know you sort of thing (lots of times, you can make friends with the person in charge and that will get you the gig without even being heard; if you stink, they just don't hire you back). I'll go in with a press kit and have a coffee or beer (depending on the venue) chat with the manager/owner/barback/whatever, and that's pretty much it. Drop by a week or two later if you don't hear back and just shoot the ship, mention the press kit nonchalantly.
    Their day to day operations are usually enough that they don't need a schpeal from you or a bunch of info outlining what's on the CD. Be nice, be clean. It usually goes further; at least in my experience.
     
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Grey area question: If you reharmonize the copyrighted standard to some other chord (like changing it from major to minor), and make similar adjustments to the melody and name it something else, can you freely play it without worry?

    I spose this is the "Vanilla Ice defense".
     
  13. MD39

    MD39

    Oct 1, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    1) I would recommend picking up a copy of Donald Passman's book "All you need to know about the music business". It has a good bit of information about copyrights as well as other legal issues.

    2) See if there is a local pro-bono arts legal aid organization where you live. We have one here in Atlanta called Georgia Lawyers for the Arts. They will be able to give to the best/most accurate information.

    3) I doubt that any of the tunes you mentioned are in public domain. I would imagine you could check with the folks at BMI or ASCAP or the folks at the Harry Fox agency. They handle license stuff for most of the major music publishers.

    4) and contrary to public opinion, unless you are creating recordings that are covered under the fair use section of the U.S. Copyright Act, you need to obtain licenses for your recordings regardless of whether or not you are selling them.

    5) lots of useful information can be found over at the US copyright office webpage (www.copyright.gov)
     
  14. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    Thanks for the advice... And for the press kit, you just need a picture and a few paragraphs about your band?
     
  15. Rebop

    Rebop

    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    That's about it. I include other venues the band has played, band line-up, and a group shot or head shots depending on the act. Electronic press kits are gaining popularity as well.
     
  16. Rebop

    Rebop

    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    It works if nobody calls you out on it.

    The Strokes based one of their big hits on Tom Petty's American Girl. Nobody really caught on until the frontman was bragging about it. When the cat was out of the bag was when they had to pay up.

    The Beatles, Harry Nilsson, and so many other songwriters have used 'ghost songs' as a foundation for many ideas. Most are able to fly under the radar fairly successfully with it.
     
  17. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    All right, thanks again. On another note, have you ever tried to get a gig at a venue by going and playing at an open mic night at the venue, and making an impression that way?
     
  18. Rebop

    Rebop

    Jul 9, 2008
    La Honda, CA
    It's happened but not on purpose; but it works. I've gone up at a jam session with my old jazz trio and got a gig out of it at the venue somehow. Competition is stiff at jams remember.
     
  19. dbass87

    dbass87

    May 16, 2010
    Yeah haha... That'd be cool if it just clicked, ya know playing your butt off and they were like, "Hey!", but like you said lots of comp...
     

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