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The million dollar reason why songwriting is where the money is: Lessons from Whitney & Dolly

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If you know anything about how music generates income you know music publishing is where the money is. Some of the most financially successful folks in the music industry are some of the most little known.

They are the composers of the songs all of those famous performers sing. Case in point. Most of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits are written by other people. True, some are not only notable but noteworthy. For example, Dolly Parton wrote I Will Always Love You, Robert “R” Kelly wrote I Believe I Can Fly and Diane Warren wrote I Didn’t Know My Own Strength, for example.

The simple fact is Dolly Parton stands to make millions since Whitney Houston’s death to add to the millions she has already made. Every time that song plays the writer (composer of the music and the lyrics) and the publisher of the song get paid. Sales of CDs and MP3s are a different revenue stream, paid to the record company and eventually the recording artist.

As reported by the Huffington Post:

After the untimely death of Michael Jackson, his estate made a fortune due to a sudden renewed interest in his catalogue. According to insiders, however, the same will not happen with Whitney Houston.

“She was broke — her label gave her advances,” a record company insider told me. “And unlike Michael, you have to remember that Whitney didn’t write any of those massive hits. They were songs that Clive Davis told her to sing and she did.”

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