IT HAPPENED TO EMINEM, IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU

- a blog post by Creative Passport Ambassador Melanie Lane -

Last August, one of the most shocking and impressive lawsuits about music rights came out. This was Eight Mile Style LLC and Martin Affiliated LLC v. Spotify USA Inc. While this headline was big news, sort of, I have yet to read an article which summarizes how this directly affects artists and songwriters, and more importantly how they can take control of this type of situation.

And while you might be reading this thinking this is old news, if you are a songwriter then you should know how to protect yourself from this happening to you. If currently on lockdown with some free time to spare, there are some things you can do from home RIGHT NOW to safeguard your music!

Firstly, let us take into account one of the important statements from this lawsuit –

HFA is Spotify’s exclusive third party licensing administrator for mechanical rights in the United States.

If you have ever been to the Harry Fox Agency website, then you know how detrimental this statement is to anyone who is owed royalties. Since its inception, the HFA website has not changed. The search feature is as antiquated, slow and does not garner the best results to actually license the track that you are looking for.

The Eminem suit states that his tracks were listed on HFA as unknown writer and /or with incorrect information which led to unpaid royalties and loss of revenue.​ “Lose Yourself” was listed in the HFA database as UNKNOWN WRITER / COPYRIGHT CONTROL! T​his meant that any company that attempted to license this song through HFA was unable, and subsequently no royalties were being paid by HFA from Spotify streams. So if your songs are also listed incorrectly on HFA or anywhere else, you could be owed unpaid royalties from Spotify or other Digital Service Providers.

Do not assume that your publishing information is listed correctly anywhere and everywhere!

However, this is not all on HFA or DSPs or BMI or ASCAP – if you are a songwriter then you should know how to look after your own copyrights. Do not assume that your publishing information is listed correctly anywhere and everywhere! As someone who licenses music for a record label, I have seen it all and am frequently shocked by incorrect or missing information on platinum selling tracks for well known songwriters and major artists.


Here are some active steps that you should take to protect yourself as a songwriter:

Go to HFA. If you have access to a Harry Fox account then look up all of your tracks to be absolutely certain that your information is listed properly. Otherwise, use this free lookup s​ecure.harryfox.com/songfile​ (you will have to accept the terms of use to search for a track and wait for at least one minute for the results). I would make a list of all the song codes where you are listed, then contact your HFA representative or HFA Client Services to obtain the full information for each track.

Then go to ASCAP. Even if you are not a member, your tracks will most likely be listed here –

ascap.com/repertory.

Then go to BMI. As the same goes for all rights organizations, you might not be a member but these societies will have a database of songs with publishing information about each writer on each track –

r​epertoire.bmi.com/StartPage.aspx.

You can also visit the Youtube copyright center –

youtube.com/about/copyright/#learn-about-copyright.

If you find any discrepancies on your songs, then immediately contact your publisher or PRO representative. Also, if you recently or ever changed publishers then you especially need to be certain that your information has been updated everywhere! I have been in many situations where a track has been confirmed by a publisher and ready to license after weeks of negotiation, only to get a reply that the songwriter is with another publisher.

Ensuring that your information is listed correctly everywhere is the best way to get paid properly for your songs and to prevent you from missing out on any sync opportunities. Because if this happened to Eminem, then it could certainly happen to you!

If you currently do not have a music publisher, then my best advice is that you have a valid email address listed on your social media or website for licensing inquiries. Being able to directly contact a writer or artist to find their publisher information is the best way to get accurate and up to date information. And if you do have a publisher, the same still applies! You should always have a direct way for anyone to contact you about your songs. Think of it like this – if someone wants to license your music for film and tv, but are having difficulties obtaining the correct information, then they will most likely move on to another song.

Ensuring that your information is listed correctly everywhere is the best way to get paid properly for your songs and to prevent you from missing out on any sync opportunities. Because if this happened to Emimen, then it could certainly happen to you!