“Dooooon’t do it ……”
That was the advice from several published writers at a website called the Absolute Write Water Cooler. It is a forum for people who write, hope to write, or like to talk to people who write and you can find it here. You will meet some of the most encouraging folks there that you will ever find anywhere (and a few of the snottiest) and will get help from both.
I was working on my first draft of x0, and wanted to include some snippets of well known classic rock lyrics to give my reader something to hum in their head while they took in certain parts of the story. It turns out that a LOT of authors have this great idea. I was concerned about copyright issues, but every one that I mentioned this to assured me that I would be fine thanks so some vague notions of public domain and fair use. Only the nice people at AW said differently. Song lyrics are like poetry. You cannot safely use even a tiny bit of them. Doooooon’t do it.”
I was forewarned but still determined, so I tried another approach. I took my nine songs and found out who owned all or part of them in the US and world wide and I started writing people. Can I please use this line from your song? How much will it cost? The assorted parties for seven songs just ignored me, and they kept ignoring me no matter how many times I wrote them back.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing however, has people on staff to handle just this sort of thing, and I found myself in negotiation for weeks with a Licensing Analyst named Lacey. She wanted to see context, I sent her pages from my book. We argued about how many copies I could sell for the price she decided on. I’ll never know why I persisted with this, but I think it was just that the whole process fascinated me. There are people stealing these songs left and right all over the internet, not to mention quoting the entire lyrics, and yet this very nice woman was spending time dickering with me over few words in a self-published first novel that might not sell ten copies. I think we both thought that the other person was nuts.
I will also never know why in the end I paid about $300 of my own hard earned money to secure the rights to use selected words from two of my favorite songs, in the first 5000 electronic copies of my book. But I did. No, I have not sold 5000 copies yet, and yes I am keeping track. I’m like that. And so is Sony/ATV.
I’ve included links to the two songs below, along with the placement in x0 that I paid for so dearly. What can I say ….. these two songs will now always have a special place in my heart 🙂 . And maybe Lacey bought my book.
This part of her job sat somewhere between treasure hunting and puzzle solving, and Lola had to admit that her day-to-day work would not have made a bad 3D video game if someone added a little bit of music and some glossy effects. And, okay, maybe a car chase or two. Lola enjoyed herself as she twisted and turned her 3D visualization of the rocks on her computer screen, humming as she looked for shifts in the rock layers known as faults.
“If you’re lost you can look / And you will find me / Time after time.”
Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 hit Time After Time (BUY) had once been a favorite of hers, and now that Lola thought about it, it made good music to prospect by. She was surprised she hadn’t remembered the song for years. She sang a little louder.
“If you fall I will catch you / I’ll be waiting—”
“Time after time.” Bob, the older engineer in the group, joined in her song as he walked by her door. “Geez Lola,” he said, “I’ve had that song in my head all damn morning. What are you doing singing it?”
“No idea. Maybe we listened to the same radio station on the way to work?” she guessed.
“I only listen to my iPod,” he replied.
4 Non-Blondes: click for official video
Amnesty? That sounded hopeful. As she started to read, Bob walked by, singing in his head one of the many great oldies he had managed to amass on his iPod. Where did the man find so many good old songs?
“What’s Up?” had been the 4 Non Blondes’ 1993 hit, coming out the year that Ariel was four. Lola loved it, and the two of them had sung, actually, screamed it together whenever it came on the radio when Lola was driving little Ariel to preschool.
In her BBC article, Ms. Duffield described talking to taxi drivers, shopkeepers, and hotel clerks in the Niger Delta region who were all hoping for peace as they watched militants hold disarmament ceremonies which involved relinquishing guns, rocket-propelled grenades, explosives, ammunition, and gunboats. Gunboats??
And so I wake in the morning and I step outside And I take a deep breath and I get real high / And I scream at the top of my lungs / What’s going on?
The BBC article added that while no one appeared to have given up their entire arsenal, the quantity of weapons released, presumably for cash, was significant. Concerns had been raised that no independent monitors were tracking what was being done with the weapons, and this caused particular concern because in the past, corrupt officials had sold confiscated guns, which had then made their way back into the hands of a wide variety of criminals.
And I try / oh my god do I try / I try all the time, in this institution.
The article noted that another major obstacle to peace was that there were now thousands of young men in the region effectively unemployed, given that their previous full-time profession had been guerilla fighter, with resumes that included kidnapping, blowing up oil pipelines, and stealing massive amounts of crude oil.
And I pray / Oh my god do I pray / I pray every single day for a revolution.
The government plan, according to the article, was to retrain these young men in new skills. It noted that they were already being processed at centers where they were being asked about their other career interests. Other career interests??
The BBC said that retraining would be a daunting prospect, and that in the case of failure, the young men would likely return to their previous activities.
And I realized quickly when I knew I should / That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man / For whatever that means …
She looked at the photo of the giant pile of automatic weapons. Seriously, right now in Nigeria there were actually thousands of angry young men filling out employment questionnaires??
Twenty-five years and my life is still / Trying to get up that great big hill / Of hope … for a destination.
For more on my adventures with including music in novels, check out my z2 blog here for a little fun with bubblegum music and my y1 blog here for songs I wished I had used.