The most popular song in the English language is “Happy Birthday to You” — mainly because Gangnam Style is in Korean.
But did you know it’s under copyright until 2030? So filmmakers have got to shell out big bucks to use the ditty that’s everyone’s favorite pre-icing social lubricant. Apparently the copyright owners bank about two million dollars a year for the right to use a song that was penned over 100 years ago. It’s a long story.
Do people love the song? Or is it just sung because we don’t have a catchy alternative? This is where you talented people come in…
The good people at WFMU and the Free Music Archive want to right this wrong by having talented humans like you submit a alt for Happy Birthday to You. There will be prizes. The judges include Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Coulton, and members of Deerhoof and Yo La Tengo. They will select 3 winners to be announced on 1/29/2013 but the entry deadline, January 13, is fast approaching. Check out all the details at The New Happy Birthday Song Contest.
The bad news is whoever wins will be putting their song into a Creative Commons kind of deal so, no, you won’t make millions on it. But you will have the glory. And maybe you will save the world from high fees for a song we don’t even like that much.
Below, here’s a fun video showing some of the birthday song replacements that have run in TV and film. Watch it, and then submit your birthday song already!