Royalty Blues

Today, I want to talk about music royalties.

We’re told by performance rights organizations that when someone writes a song and/or records it, it automatically is copy written and the songwriter immediately has legal ownership to it, even if its not registered with the Library of Congress. But this can be sort of a loose rule at times, because legalities can be tricky. To use a major publishing deal as an example: If someone writes a song and another artist records it, then that big publishing company’s music lawyers could work the deal exclusively in the publisher’s favor, leaving the writer with nothing. Unfortunately, in the last century that’s exactly what happened to a lot of blues artists. (not that it doesn’t still happen today)

arthur-crudupArthur Crudup (1905-1974) wrote, “That’s all right (mama)”. He was never paid a dime of royalties when Elvis Presley recorded it. Crudup battled over royalties with no success and eventually grew tired of the fight. In 1971 he filed a lawsuit and the amount that was agreed upon was never paid by the publishing company.

Arthur Crudup was a true music visionary who’s approach to the blues was infectious and energetic, and he deserved to be paid for his work. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t receive financial support for that song and it’s sad that many rock music lovers today never even heard of him. Before his death in 1971, RCA released an album of his music called, “Father of Rock and Roll.”



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