In His Own Words: Desmond Child on keeping your songwriting copyrights
“Well, tragically, I fell into some lean times in the late ’90s. I had moved to Miami – we’d fled LA after the  earthquake and we were picking up the pieces.
“At that time I got an offer for my catalogue, and I sold my songwriting and publishing share to Polygram [now Universal Music Group] – and it was a mistake. I retained my songwriting performance rights, and that’s how I know how big a mistake it was, and how much I sold myself short. They made their money back x 20.
“I was pressured by people around me to sell. Especially my father, who had grown up in the depression. When I told him the amount, he said, ‘Grab the money, you’ll write other songs, grab the money.’
“Also, my lawyers told me, ‘Don’t worry, you get your songs back after 35 years,’ but that’s not true. You don’t get them back for the whole world, you get them back for the US only. And you don’t get your songs back for the versions that made them hits, you only get them back for the new versions – versions made after you sold.
“When I found out those two things, it was like two buckets of ice water being poured over me.
“The people doing the deal for me were so keen to get their percentages that they didn’t explain these things to me. Had I known, I wouldn’t have signed the deal and I would have been in a much better financial position.
“Guess what, I’m not set for life. And streaming has cut my royalties down by 50% in three years – and they’re still going down, even though my songs are more popular than most current songs.
“I’m not asking for people to take up a collection for me, I’m okay, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for other [songwriters] who haven’t had the success that I’ve had.”
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