Buying exclusive rights to a song

A good customer of ours asked me about something that’s very different to exclusive rights to using a backing track – he asked about obtaining sole rights to the use of a song from the original songwriter/author (i.e. so that no-one else can sing or perform that particular song). The process of doing this is a minefield and incredibly expensive and that’s if you can get a songwriter to sign away his rights to his song in the first place – getting a songwriter to sign away his songs is like asking him for his firstborn LOL…!

Hi Kenny,
after you have pointed out all the pitfalls I think we are going to have to make up our own songs. It is so expensive to get the rights! However I would like you to make the backing track. 

Hi Kola

No problem, we can make the backing track of the song for you and give you exclusive rights to use the backing track.

Regarding getting exclusive rights to the actual song itself, yes, obtaining exclusive copyrights to a song can be VERY expensive.

Music licensing is big business and a songwriter isn’t going to sell his song for pennies if it’s making him thousands in royalties.

Even a song which is not universally popular, doesn’t currently earn much in royalties, or wasn’t originally a particularly big seller when it was first written won’t come cheap. This is because it’s not uncommon for a song to become a big money spinner for the songwriter many, many years after he originally wrote the song.

An example of this is the song “Hey baby” written by Margaret Cobb and Bruce Channel. It was written in 1961 but it was 40 years later before it really became a worldwide smash hit and unexpectedly sold millions when it was covered by an Austrian singer called DJ Otzi (it was used in the closing credits of the 2001 movie “Kangaroo Jack”).

Just imagine if Margaret Cobb and Bruce Channel had sold the rights to that song in, say, the eighties, believing that 20 years after they’d wrote it it would probably never generate any revenue again – they’d be kicking themselves! Who would have thought that the song “Hey baby” would have sat around for 40 years doing very little and then in 2001 all of a sudden rocket to popularity again and make the songwriters millions.

That’s why songwriters are very unwilling to give away the rights to their songs.

It also lays bare one of the biggest secrets of the music business – the big money in music is in song writing. You may want to have a look at this link regarding writing your own songs:

replacing a damaged soundcard


Hi John

Yes, I used a laptop for my backing tracks for many years before moving on to the iPod and I very soon discovered that an external soundcard gave much better results.

It’s a bit confusing that they call these things external “soundcards” because they’re not an actual card at all – external soundcards are little boxes which sit at the side of your PC or laptop and connect to it via a USB cable.

There are many makes and models of external soundcards available (see but if you are only intending using it for singing with your backing tracks in live music venues then you certainly don’t need to go spend fortunes. You’ll only really hear the extra benefits of a high quality external soundcard if you’re using it in a recording studio environment.

I personally used a Creative soundblaster external soundcard for my backing tracks with my old laptop at live music gigs for years. In fact I still have it and it still works perfectly so I would highly recommend a Creative soundblaster external soundcard.

You can find the newest version of their external soundcard at:

Low volume problem after transferring Minidisc to mp3

Hi team, i just wanted to know if you could help, i am a singer and i use mini disc, however my method of transfering songs from cd to md is becoming more difficult because my hi fi system is about 10 years old and won’t read many cd’s that i burn from my pc, i just wonderd if you know if you can link a minidisc up to the computer directly , i would use my Ipod to play my backing tracks but you cant alter the sound level so if its a low backing track then i have to have my equipment turned up to the max… if you have any ideas or solutions to my problem then i would very much appreciate it many thanks

Hi Darren

I wrote an article a while back which you may find useful on how to make mp3 files from Minidisc:

Regarding volume levels, the iPod doesn’t make a volume control available to you until a song is playing. This often confuses iPod users in to thinking it doesn’t have a volume control. It does.

You can change the volume level when you play backing tracks on your iPod Classic by simply turning the click wheel WHILE THE SONG IS PLAYING and it’ll alter the volume.

A good tip to save you having to constantly change the volume of every track you play on your iPod is to record it to mp3 at the correct volume when you make the initial conversion from Minidisc to mp3.

You can do this by changing the volume of the Minidisc output while you’re recording each song in to your computer.

Most of the modern portable Minidisc players have a volume output level, but if you happen to have one of the older Minidisc deck types of Minidisc players which doesn’t have a volume control, then you can use the headphone output on the Minidisc deck. Most Minidisc decks have a headphone output with a volume control – use this output to connect to your computer instead of the two rca plugs at the back.

Just make sure if you’re doing this that you keep the headphone volume level quite low as a headphone output is a powered output which is designed to power little headphone speakers. If it’s up too loud it may create too high an input volume for your computers soundcard to handle and distort. At worst it could even blow your soundcard, so just be careful if you’re doing this.

How to changing the key of a backing track

There’s a right way and a wrong way to change the key of a backing track. Before you do it (or pay any company out there to do it for you) make sure you know they’re doing it right because if they cut corners and do it the cheap/wrong way, you’ve wasted your money (you could have done it just as well yourself for free)…

Hi, Is there any way I can alter the key to your tracks. Normally I use Midifles and Cakewalk or Van Basco. Thanks 

Hi Derek

The most inexpensive way to change the key of audio tracks is to use a karaoke player (hardware or software) to pitch-shift the song to a different key.

While doing it this way costs you nothing, the downside is that pitch-shifting affects the quality of the audio so is ok for karaoke but far from acceptable for a professional act.

The proper way to do it is have the key changed from the master arrangement and re-recorded in to the key you want it in from scratch. This way is much more professional and keeps the full quality of the track (because you are, in effect, having a brand new track created in that particular key).

There’s more info at