View Full Version : Quoting song lyrics in a novel

Chiquita Banana
04-26-2009, 05:23 PM
Hi folks.

I'm not sure if this is the right place for my question, but here it goes: has anyone else requested the use of song lyrics in a novel, and if so, how did it go? I know you have to get permission to do this (if you publish, obviously) but I'm wondering how difficult that is to obtain.

In one scene, I quote Madonna (Vogue) and in another, Salt N' Pepa (Whatta Man). I could do without the Vogue lyrics if need be, without damaging the scene. The Whatta Man lyrics, however, are crucial to the scene, which starts a chain of disastrous events at the end of my novel.

Any thoughts? Thanks a bunch.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
04-26-2009, 05:37 PM
There are many threads on using Lyrics in your work... but this one's the best for the straight dope:

The Copyright FAQ (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58845), with a tip of the chapeau to our very own Medievalist.

04-26-2009, 05:54 PM
I can't speak for others' experiences, but I didn't find it that difficult. Just a little research to find out who owns the rights (I asked EMI) then fill out a request form (http://www.alfred.com/alfredweb/front/General.aspx?pageid=141&catid=48#1) and a couple of weeks later I had the license. It cost me 105.00.

Of course, my lyrics were from a 1964 Chad & Jeremy song. I rather doubt that Madonna can be had for 105.00.

Chiquita Banana
04-26-2009, 05:54 PM
Thanks Ol' Fashioned Girl!

And thanks Babarique!

04-27-2009, 04:12 PM
When I followed OFG's links, I saw one of my old threads from 2005 referenced. Kind of flattering, in a way.

Just in case you didn't read the threads all the way through, you want to visit ascap's website and do a search. Here, I searched it for you (http://www.ascap.com/ace/search.cfm?requesttimeout=300). Just type in "Whatta Man" here and you'll get the results page.

When I searched it, the page showed who holds the rights to Whatta Man. From what it looked like, it seems that four different companies have the rights, which might mean that each company holds 25% of the rights. Assuming I'm right, then to get full permission you have to contact each company to find out how much it would cost you to use the lyrics in your book.

However, I'd hold off on paying anything until your book is actually published. In some cases, the publisher will do the legwork and pay for you.

Chiquita Banana
04-27-2009, 10:03 PM
Holy smoke. Thanks Underthecity! That was so nice of you to do for me. And thanks for the advice. Good idea to hold off on it, but it's great to know who to contact if I need to.

Really appreciate it!

04-27-2009, 10:47 PM
It depends hugely on the artist or rights holder.
I've heard of some people demanding stupid amounts of money for the quotation rights