Pay attention, songwriters. Take credit for your songs and register them. Always.
Learn from R&B legend Percy Sledge. His signature tune, "When a Man Loves a Woman," is instantly recognizable, more than 40 years after Sledge recorded it.
Sledge had been humming the melody since he was a boy working in the cotton fields of Alabama. After his girlfriend left him and he cried out lyrics in the studio, "When a Man Loves a Woman" shot to No. 1 on the pop and R&B charts in 1966.
Twenty years later, the song became popular again on the soundtrack of Oliver Stone's movie, "Platoon." The tune went to No. 2 in England after it was featured in a Levi's jeans commercial.
In 1991, Michael Bolton brought the song back to No. 1 and won a Grammy. Barbara Mandrell recorded a country version.
Despite the song's massive success, Sledge doesn't receive any royalties. Those hefty paychecks go to Carmeron Lewis and Andrew Wright.
Lewis and Wright were studio musicians who helped Sledge with the song's chords and arrangements. Sledge thought he was being nice and gave them writing songwriting credits.
In an interview last year with Mike Ayers of Spinner.com, Sledge rightfully took credit for the song. But he's learned a hard lesson.
"It came from me, that's what I tell the world," said Sledge. "The whole melody came from Percy Sledge. But I wouldn't have given it all to them if I had more experience about music. If I had more intelligence about the business, I wouldn't have given away my songs like that."Sledge belted out his most famous song and other hits as Saturday's headliner at the Opelousas Spice and Music Festival. The three-day event moved from the wickedly-hot concrete and asphalt of the Municipal Plaza in downtown Opelousas to its original home in the cooler trees and grass of South City Park.