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Klaus Schulze Newsletter No. 233 - free .pdf
Klaus Schulze Newsletter No. 233 - Free .pdf

The January 2017 issue of The KS Circle is currently available for free download from the official Klaus Schulze website - along with the November 2009 issue (No. 154).

Now in its 22nd year (!), The Circle is normally distributed to members each month in print format - along with occasional bonus CD-Rs.

Bound volumes of back-issues are also available.

This is a good opportunity for KS fans to find out what they have been missing!


The editorial (by site founder Klaus D. Mueller) mentions a recent court ruling that music publishers in Germany will no longer receive GEMA payments.

I've never been quite clear about the role of publishers in the modern music industry.
A century ago, when a home was more likely to have a piano than a gramaphone (let alone a surround-sound home theatre!), publishers earned their income though sales of sheet music.
But that was in decline long before the digital age.

Living in the UK, I have been unaware of any debate about this issue.
Perhaps this is the wrong part of the forum to discuss it.
But I would be grateful to any German members who could give me some idea of the kind of arguments that were raised - and interested to hear your opinions.

Here are some observations from my personal experience with today's "publishers".

By using the quote signs, you might already see where this post will go. I'm of the opinion that the vast bulk of today's publisher's business is basically just racketeering.

The original concept of a "publisher" is that he/she publishes printed music. Obviously, there is a certain amount of music that gets published in printed form. There's nothing wrong with this practice, as long as everyone gets their fair share, for which there are fixed sharing quotas as determined by the copyright organizations, as GEMA used to have.

When music is put out on CD or other audio medium (including audio for film/video), this would fall under a "release", as by a label or a production company. There's nothing much of a "publisher's" work going on.

However, wherever possible, today's typical practice of big record labels and film/video production companies is to increase their profits by forcing composers to sign their works over to a "publisher", i.e. themselves or a close associate which will return the favor in some profitable way. This will earn them 50% of so called "mechanical" copyrights (the right to reproduce a work on a certain carrier - i.e. "mechanically"), and 33% of the "performing" copyrights (the right to perform a work - not necessarily as recorded to a certain carrier, it could be a live performance). That is quite a big chunk of all copyrights! And if you happen to have created a work with one or more people, the publisher's income is definitely the biggest of all!

Where things become a racket is when the music is not actually published in printed form, or only on a very small scale, while the CD or movie/video might sell big time.

Typically, the argument used by the "publisher" will be that: "Hey, your CD (or soundtrack) will get released only thanks to ME (i.e. his/her role in you getting the record/soundtrack deal). Sign or I'll get your deal taken away from you."

If you say 'no', the deal might indeed go dead. If you say 'yes', the deal is probably going to suck terribly. So what's a starving composer gonna do? (And I'm not even talking about all the other potential problems with labels, recoupable advances - if any - , lack of promotion, and so on).

Another typical practice is to get composers to sign the copyrights of their works over to a "publisher", even without there being a deal for a CD or soundtrack release. This means they are basically just shooting blindly in the hope of catching a big bird, notwithstanding their marginal or simply non-existing promotion of the works.

I definitely welcome the decision by GEMA not to pay publishers anymore as a very good thing indeed. It's simply GREAT news for German composers! I hope it will set an example for the rest of the world.

In my opinion the Klaus Schulze newsletter editor is merely inappropriately whining about the disappearance of a paying format that is now OBSOLETE. There are other types of agreements so that each gets paid fairly for their work, such as what I mentioned above (record label, production company, and such, both earning royalties much much higher than the composers they release).

GEMA's decision is simply blocking terrible abuse by so called "publishers" that has been going on for a couple of decades now.

If a genuine publisher wishes to genuinely publish a certain work in print (paper or e-format), it will now be possible to simply agree on a 'licence-royalty' (non-related to copyrights) that should be paid to the composer. As simple as that. If the composer is worried about big-number sales, adaptations can be made for that, obviously.

To make my point, I would say that the publishers I've dealt with in my life managed to convince me that pursuing record deals or certain kind of soundtrack orders is simply not worth all the work put into it on my side (especially when compared to that on the other side). It means that for the time being, I don't care about making money with my music anymore in those ways, as selling music without one or more big companies genuinely working behind one is indeed very difficult in today's world, especially if your music is not of the ultra-commercial type (and even if it is). So how do I manage? That's another story, for another time Wink

Hope this clarifies a thing or two.  8)

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