What Is A Song Worth?

"Music the Great Communicator use two sticks to make it in the nature" from Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Can't Stop.'

That is one of my favorite lyrics of all time.  Of course there have been hundreds of fantastic songs written up until now and more to come I'm certain of this.  Almost anyone can write a song and almost anyone can write a good song if you go by the industry standards of today. 

From Elvis Presley to Justin Bieber you can take a simple set of lyrics involving some sort of longing for love and three simple chords and have yourself a good pop song.  It isn't limited to pop songs however. Heavy metal, punk rock and country music also share these traits.

The difference between the country music the punk rock and heavy metal is simply a choice of instruments and or effects used with those instruments.  For instance if you look at Johnny Cash's version of the Nine Inch Nails song 'Hurt,' you will see that not even the time signature has changed and it is very much the same as the original.  Once again we have taken a basic set of lyrics and put them into a simple chord progression and turned it into a song.

Now that we know how simple it is to write a song the question is how much exactly is a song worth?

What seems to be like a very long time ago are young man by the name of Willie Nelson had sold a song called 'Crazy' to a woman named Patsy Cline.  The music publishers made a lot of money off of this song, Ms Cline made a few dollars as well and as rumor has it that young man named Willie Nelson had made a grand total of five dollars. 

$5..... Now as we know Mr. Nelson has gone on to sell many other songs for more than five dollars a pop but how much is a song worth anyway?  The only real cost in making a song actual physical costs are pen and paper if you use old school technology and we all know that doesn't cost very much these days. So now we have to look into how much money songs actually bring in.

When I got started in the film and music industry the general rule of thumb if you had a top 10 songs you would get as a songwriter, approximately $100,000 a year from your royalties which at the time was basically radio play and if you're lucky enough to get a spot in a film.  There was no internet as we know it now back in the day and bootlegs were rare which makes the numbers a little easier to crunch.

December 9th 2013 we have internet we have internet piracy we have music sharing which does not give the publisher nor the writer any compensation whatsoever for their creative efforts.  In fact I had just heard recently that streaming music on the Internet will not get you paid anymore either as a writer.  And we must not forget our beloved DJs of this planet who are required by law in most countries to report the music that they played so that the musicians and the songwriters can get paid through their music publishing companies and this I know first hand does not always happen.

In some cases a single song can set a songwriter up for years not having to worry about where his next meal is coming from or where she's going to get her rent payment.  In assessing the value of a song however one must look at the untouchable unseen feeling the piece of music brings to the listener.  Perhaps this is where we find the true intrinsic value within the piece of music. Can we really put a value on something like that?  I mean prostitutes can make you feel alright and they have their price some higher than others some extremely higher than others but we're not talking about prostitution here we're talking about music;  we're talking about a single song and the value of a single song.

Now how exactly would we determine that value? 
We understand that it actually literally costs nearly nothing to write a song when you look at the physical, actual 'stuff' materialistically which are used to do the physical writing.. And we also understand that music is being shared freely without compensation to the writer which means also that that piece of music should not be bringing money into the person using it without permission.

The conclusion that we've come to is that the value of one piece of music is entirely subjective.

Here at Mordichai Music we have zero artist contracts.   Our artists are free to fly their freak flags wherever they may.  We've loosely based our business model after Factory Records in the United Kingdom.  ( if you don't know of them look up Happy Mondays or New Order ) A lack of contract means that we do not control our artists nor do we seek to control their assets including the rights to their songs. 

If you were to write a song that seemed to become popular with many people on this planet would you be content to have zero compensation for your artistry?  Think about that next time you share music especially from independent bands who do not have a huge contracts with huge dollars attached to them by major record labels.

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