- September 1, 2017 at 9:55 pm #541795
Hello, ChoralNet community,
I’m a late-20’s choral arranger/composer who has been in the field for more than 10 years.
Hal Leonard controls the copyright to publishing sheetmusic for the majority of pop-music in today’s pop-market; and, it is where I would obtain the copyright to publish the following song in question.
I seem to be running into a bit of a hard time trying to obtain permissions to create a pre-existing pop-ballad into a choral arrangement. I’ve contacted Hal Leonard regarding my desire to arrange “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”, only to have it denied for unknown reasons. Some of my order details are the following:
Title of Publication: It’s All Coming Back to Me Now
Arranger/Editor: Ace Chen
Publisher in North America?: Yes
Publication Date: 2018
Distribution Method: Printed hard good, digital download
Type of Publication: Choral, Accompanied
Distribution Territory: U.S. only
# of Copies: 300
Retail Price: 2.80
Total Songs: 1
Number of Licensed Songs: 1
When I followed-up with the licensing manager as to why my request was denied and what part of my request order I can alter to possibly change consideration, her only response to me was a very generic everyone-already-knows list of “possible reasons” to why my request was rejected:
1- the “economics of the request”
2- current marketing trends and desires of the publisher (I wasn’t requesting permissions to have my arrangement published by Hal Leonard; simply to be allowed to publish it at all)
3- the desire and will of the publisher who owns the direct copyright of the song
In the end, she stated in a noticeably haughty manner that they’re “not always given the direct reason” for the declination. Overall, she remained very strident and inflexible in her communication towards me, making it very difficult to speak with her on any matters, let alone the one at hand.
This is rather stressfully discouraging for me, since I’ve always been very passionate about this song and believe that it will contribute greatly to the choral music market. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” is reputedly one of the most beautiful classic Celine Dion** pop-ballad that has been enjoyed by countless of people all around; I’m confident that there would be a great deal of choral composers who would want to purchase this music for choral performance. It’s been a ‘dream of mine’ since 15-years-old to one day arrange this song into choral sheet music for publication.
As I believe most things are never set in stone (we, as humans, only make it so; and, usually for petty reasons), I wanted to ask your guy’s opinion on the matter and, more importantly, any possible advice you can offer as to how I might possibly be able to obtain permissions for this. Here are some questions of my own that come to mind:
1 – It really could simply be that Jim Steinman (composer) and/or Universal Music of Polygram International, Inc. (publisher of the song) simply has no desire to have this in choral arrangement. I would like to find out for certain directly from them, if possible. Are there good methods to approach him/it regarding this inquiry? Also, as a long shot, would anyone know how/where I can contact Jim Steinman on this matter?
2 – Perhaps a 300-copy print run is too little or $2.80 is too cheap/expensive per unit. What do you believe an ideal print-run quantity and price to meet a large publisher’s satisfaction would be?
3 – Would there be anything else that may make possible arrangements more favorable for permissions consideration?
I’m especially concerned about these matters, provided that I also placed multiple request orders for different songs, totaling 11. So, any advice would likely be very beneficial.
**originally, the song was intended by songwriter Jim Steinman to be for another band; Celine’s cover was merely what made the song famousSeptember 2, 2017 at 10:15 am #541800
Regarding arranging, look into Tresona.
They will help with the licensing and possibly make the arrangement available for purchase for others online.
You really can’t fault HL. Most of their income comes from licensing music to movies, TV etc. They do what they do very well, particularly in troubling times for publishers.
As with all licensing, mechanical or otherwise, document your communications.
NickSeptember 2, 2017 at 10:16 am #541805
In a phrase, give it up. You’re attempting to convince the owner of an intellectual property to share with you when they have made their lack of desire to share quite clear. We may not appreciate the “haughty” way you were rejected, but the fact of the matter is this is not your property to use, it theirs. Whether it is Mr. Steinman’s request or Warner Bros it doesn’t matter. Turn tour energy and talents elsewhere.
Craig HawkinsSeptember 2, 2017 at 10:16 am #541809
Are you sure that Hal Leonard understands that you’re asking for the Right to Create a Derivative Work? (aka arrangement). It sounds from their response like they could perhaps be assuming that you are asking to re-publish/reprint. Don’t give up! Finding the right permissions division and person can be really hard.
Yes, that’s a great plan to keep following the tree back to the roots: obtain permission from the copyright holder (likely NOT the songwriter) of the earliest published version. You want to make sure you get permission to create a derivative work of the underlying composition.
HL is especially hard to navigate because it’s a publisher, a distributor, and also licenses on behalf of other publishers. This could take a really long time. But don’t give up if you believe in it!September 2, 2017 at 10:16 am #541810
The far more likely scenario is that the publisher already has plans to do a choral arrangement of their own and simply doesn’t want it to have to compete with another arrangement (yours or anyone else’s) in the marketplace. In that case they might be more open to your proposal after their own version has been on sale for some time and has established itself as “the” arrangement. It might pay you to try again in 2-3 years. It strikes me as unlikely that the price or number of copies you proposed had anything to do with their denial of your request–if they had a standard minimum requirement for either of those two numbers they would have simply said so. Bottom line–accept their decision and move on; I know that’s painful when you’ve emotionally invested in something, but your time and talents still have unlimited potential for application to other projects. Find one, complete it and make it so irresistible that ol’ Hal and his minions regret that they didn’t partner with you from the beginning!September 2, 2017 at 1:43 pm #541836
I feel for you. This has happened to me. I wrote an incredible arrangement of a song for my church choir. We sing it now, but I can’t get the song writer to publish my fine atprrangement of this song. So I move on.
What I would do is: GO http://www.sheetmusicplus.com
Sign up as a composer and start publishing your music for digital downloads. I currently have over 300 listings and I get royalties daily which is a really good deal. Most of mine are public domain and I get 40 percent of the sales. The non public domain songs pay 20 percent royalty.
If the song you want to publish is not on their arrange me list, you can write and ask them to try to get the proper permission. They work very well and are not haughty at all.
If you have further questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to help you.
Gene RobersonSeptember 2, 2017 at 6:24 pm #541844
My initial thought also was that Hal Leonard may already have an arrangement in the works with someone else.
In no way should this be considered legal advise but here is my personal experience. Our a cappella choir has had several arrangements written for our own use & it’s been typical that we’ve had to go through several layers before finding the right entity to give us the permission to do the arrangement.
As Abbie Betinis mentioned, just because HL holds the publishing rights doesn’t always mean that they hold the rights for permission to write arrangements. Looking back over what we have had arranged over the last 15 years, sometimes, it was HL granting permission to arrange. Other times, it was the composer or his/her agent or estate controlling the rights. Have you tried contacting Universal or Mr. Steinman directly? Mr. Steinman is on Facebook. I didn’t see an email address on his website. My experience with composers is that they usually respond fairly quickly though that medium. If he likes the idea, he might be the one to direct you to the party holding the rights.
You should expect to pay some sort of fee for the permission to arrange. Once you find the proper party to give you permission to write the arrangement, you will want to ask if they will allow you to post the arrangement on one of the online publishing houses that have sprung up over the last few years. Musicspoke & Swirly come to mind. Once the piece is arranged & ready for printing via a PDF, these companies post a sample your work on their website along with a sound file & then they sell your piece for a licensing fee per copy. A user pays the fee & then a link is sent for the download. Then there is no inventory for the publisher.September 5, 2017 at 8:01 am #541920
I can’t thank you all for the insightfully helpful responses; I didn’t think I was going to get 2 until 1 week has passed, let alone 6 helpful ones in 1 day!
@ Patricia Smith and Dan Gawthrop
I definitely understand how you might have made the inference regarding pre-existing plans to make an arrangement of the same. In actuality, I’ve been watching jwpepper on this song since I was 15 (the time when I first entertained unofficial plans to one day arrange this song), and for those 13 years, I have never seen this song appear on there in choral arrangement; I would think that a beautiful renowned song like “It’s All Coming” would make its way there if it were ever a choral arrangement. Having said that, as far as I understand, my arranging and desiring to publish this arr. may be more original and, furthermore, may not be a factor in the declination.
Dan, I’ll definitely take the encouragement to first publish my music and make it “irresistible”; few other members gave me some resources to do so. 🙂
Patricia, I have contacted UMusic. While they were more approachable, they basically redirected me to Hal Leonard, because HL “controls the copyright to arrange and publish sheetmusic”. I explained in e-mail to them my situation regarding the firm strident manager at Hal L, but there’s been no word back from them so far on it. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can find Mr. Steinman on facebook.
Thanks for such an elaborate and encouraging response.
I’ll look into sheetmusicplus. I’ve only once been a member for about a week, and that was more than a decade ago.
I don’t know if you would know an answer to the following. Would I be allowed to have my music published there as well as JWPepper’s My Score, or is that something I wouldn’t want to touch? Jwpepper’s rate for printing sale is I get to keep 25%; 50% for digital. And then, I don’t know if I would even be allowed to publish liscensed arrangements there.
In the meantime, I will look into your helpful resources. Thanks for providing me them!
That’s a rather interesting point. It is a possibility that they could have confused my intentions.
I submitted my request through the “Permissions to Publish custom arrangement or song collection” page (https://www.halleonard.com/permissions/zendesk/editRequestInfo.action), which link I found on the Permissions Index page (https://www.halleonard.com/permissions/index.action). Was there perhaps a different page I was supposed to submit to?
Also, thanks greatly for your encouragement!
@ Nick Page
Thank you, too, for your resource. I’ve never heard of Tresona, but it does seem like something that could help out. I’ll look into it.
As a further question to everyone, would it be a good idea to have a reading session of my arrangement and create a demo recording of it as a part of the submission to request permissions? Would it be considered copyright infringement, even if I no one but exclusively those at Hal Leonard (or whichever publisher) would be the ones to hear it, and only for their permissions consideration?
In the meantime, I will see if I can find Mr. Steinman on facebook.
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