Nature sounds as works?

I am in the process of establishing all of the works (and afterwards the performance relationships) for Steve Haun, a friend of mine.

Looking at this album, I don’t know what the recommended style should be for the Nature* tracks:

A couple of the tracks have music combined, so they are straightforward. Most tracks are “composed” of several different sounds (birds, water, thunder, etc.).

If I create a work, there isn’t a clear type (it isn’t a song!).

If I don’t create a work, I can’t attach the publishers to them. Would they have an arranger instead of a composer???


Don’t stress about leaving fields blank if you’re not sure - works often have an empty ‘type’ field!

And that’s as much help as I’m going to be, hopefully someone else chimes in for the rest :wink:

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Shouldn’t the publisher just refer to the recording instead of a work? After all, if nothing is written down (music, text, arrangement), what is there to publish?


I am not quite sure what you mean with “nothing written down”, what you mention is usually part of the work (after all the work is about the composition, whereas a recording is just that: a specific recording of the work). And Publishers usually are concerned about the work, not the specific recording.

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Well, a field recording or the like doesn’t have much that can be published other than the sounds themselves. But I’m pretty sure classical works for tape have publishers, so there’s probably something I don’t know about :slight_smile:

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In Steve’s case, he took several different field recordings and combined them to produce a recording for a specific effect/mood. I think it goes beyond just mixing and in some cases he has instruments playing as well. Did he write it down - with the instruments, maybe - for the others I don’t know.

When going through these, I realized that although he used the same name for a track and the main melody is present, the pieces on different albums are often quite different. It reminds me of Jazz, where there might be an overall idea for the piece, but it is a basis for the improvisation. What about Jazz recordings that are completely improvised - I assume they should be works.

The one thing I have realized is that categorizing/classifying music is hard - the artists are too artistic to be put in a box :grin:


I think it’s good to remember why we have the work object in the first place: to have something to relate to, if different recordings are based on the same underlying piece.

The simple case: sheet music is a work, it has a composer who wrote it and a publisher doing printing and distribution.

For an improvised recording, I guess we could create an underlying work, with all the participating artists as composers. But it would not have any concrete use: there is no information stored with the ephemeral work that cannot already be put on the recording object; and only in very rare circumstances will such a recording be re-enacted, so we could link the re-recording to the original work.

Back to the point at hand, if Mr Haun (or someone else) were to repeatedly perform the same „piece“, it would definitely be useful to link all those to a single work.

Who would you like to link as publisher in this case? (edit:) Are you sure these are not the publishers of the release?

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I originally started by adding a publisher to the recordings, but it has a deprecated warning. I went through the IRC chat logs and @reosarevok and @Zastai seemed to think the same and mentioned a ticket for it:

I also thought about the publisher at the release level. From what I was reading, I though only executive producer, mastering, art direction, and such applied at the release level. If it was not clear which tracks had some recording attributes (e.g., violin played by xxx at the release level, but not all tracks have violin), then placing these at the release level was better to avoid implying more knowledge than we had.

According to the booklet “all compositions published by Steve Haun Music (BMI)” confuses things slightly, because we don’t know if we considered the arranged nature sounds as compositions. Since he chose different recordings, arranged them for a purpose and mood, I considered them compositions.

I’m sure I’m overthinking this - lol, but I have been using these releases as a way to try to fully understand the release groups, releases, recordings, works, and all the relationships.

I’d only consider this eligable for the „publisher“ relation on a work, if there is published material which would allow other people to (more or less) recreate this recording. Unlikely, but not impossible.

Very few artists publish full sheet music of their songs - that does not make them any less of a work.
These have the unusual feature of essentially using one-off instruments/soundfonts, but to me that doesn’t necessarily change much. To me, if it’s more than a simple recording of nature (e.g. multiple such recordings mixed together, or with instruments/vocals added), it is a Work.


I was just looking to see what Steve had in the way of sheet music and realized it was only for two pieces.

I’ve been looking at Classical for a while and I think I’m just used to see sheet music for everything - thanks for the reminder!

I vehemently agree. But you can’t attach a „publisher“ relation to it, then.

And my other point was: if it’s very unlikely to be reproduced by anybody (even the original artist), you can create a Work for a piece, but it doesn’t buy you much. Don’t let that stop you, though.

(Sheet music just makes the reproduction much more likely – practically a given, although no such reproduction may ever reach the criteria for a Release.)

Why wouldn’t you be able to add a publisher? A publisher on a work is not usually (at least not outside the classical field) a publishing company in the physical book sense. It’s usually a company holding the rights to such publications. In fact, many artists in the pop field have their own publishing company (e.g. the members of the Foo Fighters). Those would apply even in the absence of any sheet music publication (for one thing, the lyrics will usually be published in the release’s booklet).


I’ve not seen „publisher“ used like this before. I think for someone to be a publisher, there had to be some, well, publishing going on. What you describe is (IMO) better termed the „copyright holder“.

Aaanyway, in the concrete matter at hand, the would-be publisher is the same as the work author, so there really is no need to specify him as a rights holder or whatever. Under Berne Convention, that is the default anyway.

I think the publisher may be the person/entity registering the works with ASCAP, KODA, etc. This will often be the copyright holder, but not always. (A fair number of artists “publish” their works via a company, even if they personally hold the copyright.)


For most/all of Steve’s releases, there are at least these two statements:
All compositions published by SNH Music (BMI)
Copyright SNH Productions

I have seen this on the different labels as well - the compositions are published by a XXX Music (BMI) company, and the release/recordings are copyright by SNH Productions and the Label company name.

I’m guessing here, but it seems to me like the compositions are considered published when the album is released - I assume for copyright and royalty purposes.

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