1. onlyfiction
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    onlyfiction New Member

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    How to contact famous singer about using her lyrics in my book?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by onlyfiction, Sep 22, 2016.

    Hi everyone,

    I completed my fourth novel a while ago, and I am having a complicated problem. In one of my scenes, a character sings a verse from a popular song. My editor confirmed my belief that it is necessary for me to obtain permission from the songwriter before I make any attempt at publication. (I really do not want to change the scene, because the pop culture reference really strengthens it.)

    I found one contact email address on her website, but I don't want my inquiry to end up lost in a sea of fanmail. Can anyone offer suggestions as to how I can contact this person/her management company?


    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    You need to contact her record label - they'll be used to dealing with this sort of thing (be aware that they may just say no , or they may want payment) it may be wise to call them to avoid your letter/email getting lost as then you can confirm in writing to a named person.

    Alternately you could avoid the whole thing by changing the scene to a made up famous singer, if the lyrics arent plot pivotal
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Also, don't assume the singer wrote the song. Often, with famous pop artists at least, they didn't. And in some cases even if they did they might not hold the rights. The label should know all of that information.

    You also don't automatically need permission. There is Fair Use, but it's tricky with songs, and the rights holders tend to he aggressive so publishers like to play it safe.
     
  4. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, I do this a bit too much, but my strategy is to save that for the theoretical afte-your-book-is-sold period (If you're trying to publish traditionslly). If you're only using it once, I'd leave it in, and let whoever you sell it to make the call as to whether to take it out. If you're self-publishing, then obviously you'd need to look into it yourself (and to do that you need to figure out who owns the publication rights to the song, I think - and publishing companies do license stuff like that).

    The other thing is that, yes, Fair Use is a thing - so you can reference artists and song titles (like if your character "heard 'Born to Run' playing in the background." - I don't think you need permission for that.) Quoting lyrics not so much, although if a character is singing one line, that might qualify.
     
  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    And if it makes you feel better - if my novel ever gets to publication, my publisher is going to have a lot of fun dealing with the fact that I quote both Taylor Swift and N.W.A. lyrics.
     
  6. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Oooh, that'll be fun. She's particularly aggressive and unforgiving.
     
  7. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Huh. I knew she was trouble when she walked in.
     

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