Smart publishers know the administrative side of music publishing is critical to their company’s financial success. Signing talented writers and getting songs recorded is hard work, but even a No. 1 hit still needs to have all its data properly reported. Unfortunately, the job of collecting writer and song info has become increasingly complex. Most companies and writers find themselves sifting through excel files, google docs, dropbox, Word files, iTunes and hard drives for the necessary files and data about splits, co-writes, demo recordings, lyric sheets, etc. Cleaning it all up can be exhausting and expensive.
One of the newest solutions dedicated to organizing fragmented assets is Songspace.com which calls itself a collaborative song network because it provides interactive tools for publishers and songwriters. The company was co-founded by CEO Robert Clement, who also serves as co-owner/Publisher of American Songwriter Media and Director of Strategy, Jesse Feister. Like other publisher systems, Songspace is based in the cloud which gives it the potential to share data across all size screens and geography.
NEKST sat down with Feister, who previously was signed to Island Def Jam Records and Warner/Chappell, to get an overview and some details on Songspace’s inner workings.
NEKST: Does the Songspace mobile app help signed and unsigned writers?
Jesse Feister: Yes. I’ve been in both situations personally. As an indie writer the Songspace advantage is collaboration with the other people I write with and the ability to keep everything in one place, prepped in a way that it can transition easily whenever that big deal comes along. Everybody I work with in Nashville saves ideas on their phones which means the app is always there to save stuff when you need it. When you work with other people there is this back and forth that happens. Someone wrote down the lyrics, and someone is creating a work tape. These things get emailed to everyone and get scattered all over the digital landscape. Songspace writers share access to a song page where they store all these song elements. Even if your co-writers aren’t using the app you can invite them to the work page in the cloud. So at its most basic form, Songspace starts there, providing an easy way to track and store your ideas from the very first spark through to the finished song. And if that’s all a writer ever uses Songspace for, well it’s still a big deal.
NEKST: Is this song page private?
Jesse B. Feister: It’s 100% private, just the co-writers have access to it. It is similar to a Google Doc, but customized and formatted for songwriters and creators. For example, I saved an idea. We decide to write it together, so I just convert it from an idea to a song and then add you as a co-writer. Then you can hear the idea, adjust the lyrics or make changes. Writers have the option to add publishing info when there is a need to do so.
NEKST: So if the indie writer gets a deal with a publisher who is also using Songspace does it facilitate a transfer of song assets?
Jesse B. Feister: Delivering the body of work you are bringing to the publishing deal, a schedule A, can be awful. It’s photocopies of split sheets, chains of emails and folders of old demos. If you’ve been keeping track with our app, it will just take about 3 minutes. Just submit those songs that are part of the deal into the company share folder and leave the others alone.
NEKST: Can the company see the songs you don’t put into its share folder?
Jesse B. Feister: No, they see only what the writer shares with them. Sometimes a writer doesn’t want to share a song until it is completely finished. We’ve tried to follow the way people are already working.
NEKST: Does Songspace streamline the pitch process?
Jesse Feister: A song page defaults as private until you decide you want to show it off. You can send a private pitch link and the person will see the lyrics, be able to listen to the song and/or watch the video all on the one page. It’s a better way to market a song. When showing off a page there are view and edit modes. In edit mode you see all the assets, even the early ideas or work tapes. But in view mode the writer decides what to share with others. So your scratch demo of the original song is still there, but doesn’t have to be visible to others in view mode.
NEKST: Can I track who pitched what to who?
Jesse B. Feister: Yes, that’s where the collaborative song network comes into play. One song could be shared by three writers and their business teams. So there may be 7, 8 or more entities involved. Songspace allows everyone on that song level to see who pitched it to who and if the person viewed the song page yet. It provides a digital breadcrumbs trail.
NEKST: What is the Songspace company event timeline?
Jesse B. Feister: We launched Songspace for individual songwriters last Jan. and over 15,000 songwriters have downloaded the app. Of those, about 3,000 actively use it every week. We opened the enterprise side about two weeks ago, but it hasn’t officially launched yet. The writer app is free for songwriters with some limitations. Paying $5 mo. adds a lot more options and should work for most writers. On the enterprise side we charge on a per user basis. Each user gives you more storage and more songs. If you are a small publisher with 3 writers and two working on the business side it’s about $75 per month. We wanted to make sure we priced this to fit the budget for the, “mean, but lean team” that needs slick tools to compete.
NEKST: Can I export my data or are we married for life?
Jesse B. Feister: Hopefully we are married for life, but obviously exporting is a big part of why you want to keep stuff in the cloud. We are evolving that process because everyone needs it differently. There are a number of standard formats for rights data. We have relationships and have sent data to YouTube and Sound Exchange. The PROs use a format called CWR. ASCAP, BMI and SOCAN just released a joint collaboration called MusicMark which standardizes how to submit data to all three entities. We’ve spent a lot of time making sure that our publishing data is 100% usable.