Library/Production Music Contracts

Discussion in 'Working in the Industry' started by CGR, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. CGR

    CGR Pianist/Composer/Arranger

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    I have 4 solo albums, and numerous other tracks on 3 compilation albums with a library/production music publisher called Motion Focus Music. I have written and produced enough new tracks for another full album, and have been researching other publishers to consider for distribution.

    After an recent enquiry with another publisher, I received an expression of interest and a contract to consider. I was both surprised and perplexed by this section (see attached image) in the middle of the document, outlining costs to be incurred if my tracks are used. These are on top of the 50/50 composer/publisher split. Thoughts & opinions anyone?

    11.6.1-11.6.5.png
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  2. R. Soul

    R. Soul Senior Member

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    This is a contract from Evolution media music - not sure how they are related to Motion focus music?

    I've had the same document, although not placed tracks with them yet.
    All it says is that they will charge £25 for mastering per track, which will be recouped from future earnings. This is not uncommon.
    And they will charge £450 if they have to mix your track, but you should really do that yourself.

    Regarding 11.6.4 - I'm not sure what those adjustments include. You might want to check with them.
     
  3. muk

    muk Senior Member

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    If there is an upfront payment, recouping on it is quite common. Recouping on the writers share of the royalties, however, is a very bad deal for you. I see two cases how this could be an ok deal for you: 1. the libraries pays you something upfront, or 2. you do all the mixing and mastering, thus no deductions from the library on any of your earnings. If neither of these two criteria are met, I would decline and try to place the tracks elsewhere.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    CGR

    CGR Pianist/Composer/Arranger

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    Thanks for your reply. Yes, this section of the contract is not related to Motion Focus Music. My contract with them doesn't stipulate any of these fees or deductions from tracks they place, which was why I'm questioning if this was common practice. The wording seems very much weighted in their favour with regards to 'at the discretion of Evolution Media Music'. Surely providing pre-mastered tracks as well as stems would negate the need for additional mastering & mixing by them or their clients? ‎£450 is a substantial charge, on top of an additional 20% of the composer share, for mixing a track.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    CGR

    CGR Pianist/Composer/Arranger

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    Thanks for your thoughts. There is no mention of any upfront payment in the contract.
    (Note: edited after clarification from the Publisher)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  6. MartinH.

    MartinH. Senior Member

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    11.6.2 sounds to me like it is common for composers to negotiate advance payments with them. They won't offer those, you probably need to ask for them. If your contract with the other company is better, then use that as your bargaining chip and tell them (in a more professional wording) "Ok, but only if you pay me _____ in advances for the work I did on composing and producing the track." or something like that. I don't know, I'm just a hobbyist and happy that I don't have to worry about such stuff...
     
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  7. Daryl

    Daryl Senior Member

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    Unfortunately this sort of thing is quite common. I find it abusive, and won't have any part of it, but my stance is increasingly a minority one.
     
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  8. OP
    OP
    CGR

    CGR Pianist/Composer/Arranger

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    Hmmm. I've queried the above points. Interested to hear their response. FYI, I haven't supplied any music to them or signed a contract.
     
  9. studiostuff

    studiostuff Active Member

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  10. muk

    muk Senior Member

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    Run away indeed. Upon rereading the contract, I noticed that they are recouping from the writer's share! Walk away immediately and, if you are in the mood to, shut the door hard.* A library has no business touching the writer's share. Ever. Under no circumstance. I can not stress this enough. Never give away any part of your writer's share. Any company asking you to do that is not one you should be working with.

    By the way, certain PROs explicitly forbid their composers to give away part of the writer's share, and for good reason. So, if you'd want to enter this truly bad deal, check your contract with your PRO first. Tells you all you need to know about these kind of deals.

    *For instance you could propose them a 50/50 split deal, but you will retain 20% of the publisher's share and recoup 450£ for writing the tracks. Their reaction will tell you how fair a deal they think that is.
     
  11. Wolfie2112

    Wolfie2112 Senior Member

    Run! I especially cringed at the section about charging you for mastering, any "fixes", and mixing if required. What a scam.
     
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  12. OP
    OP
    CGR

    CGR Pianist/Composer/Arranger

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    Thanks for your input Muk & Wolfie.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  13. GtrString

    GtrString Active Member

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    This is not common at all! Pure internet scam.
     
  14. Daryl

    Daryl Senior Member

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    That's not quite correct. It's only forbidden to give away some of the Writer's share of Broadcast Royalties. There is no such thing as a Writers' share of Mechanicals.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  15. Daryl

    Daryl Senior Member

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    I suggest that you look more carefully. I can name at least four supposedly reputable companies that use recoupment.
     
  16. Mr. Edinburgh

    Mr. Edinburgh Member

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    that's crazy - I bet most seasoned composers wouldn't sign that in a millions years....
     
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  17. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    I have never seen recoupment coming from BMI/ASCAP etc. from the writers' side. That seems wrong.
     
  18. Daryl

    Daryl Senior Member

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    No, but neither of those two organisations hand out Mechanicals, do they? A British Publisher has no method of getting their hands on the Writer's share of Broadcast Royalties, as those come directly to the Writer from PRS, so would be unable to recoup from that. I think there is just a misunderstanding of the contract here.

    Look at the wording:

    ...due directly from us...

    Writer's PRS payments come from PRS. Not the Publisher.
     
  19. Daryl

    Daryl Senior Member

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    All composers who write for EMI, West One, and a number of others, do and have.
     
  20. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    You may be right Daryl. I didn't read the paragraphs from the contract and I'm not going to -- as you undoubtedly know, nobody can interpret a contract's overall impact from reading just a section, so I'm being cautious with advice.

    As should the OP be cautious with what advice he gets on a forum.

    But caution cuts both ways, given that there always seem to be new ways people dream up to take more away from composers. You probably have heard that there was a company in Los Angeles that, for years, required composers to list one of their executives as a co-writer, thus grabbing a portion of the writer's share. It's stories / history like that that makes me urge caution.

    That said, the publisher needs to make money.

    Apart from other considerations, like reputation, past experience with the team, I weigh these concepts when it comes to library / production music:

    1. Ideally, they have "skin in the game" -- Either they pay you a fee up front or they pay to hire the orchestra. Depending on how much money they put at risk, it's reasonable for them to get a lot: (1) the publishing, (2) control of the music and the masters permanently, and (3) the right to recoup their costs before the composer gets money. After all, they are risking cash. Besides, a large proportion of production tracks never earn anything at all so the company knows that a certain amount of what they put at risk will never return anything to them;

    2. If nothing up front -- If they don't pay a fee or cover meaningful production costs, one could argue they have limited incentive to market your tracks and, unless someone else paid for the production, the composer may have a player-less track that doesn't necessarily sound that impressive as a demo or one into which the composer has invested meaningful money. In that circumstance, I would ask for a reversion of some kind -- that all rights revert back to composer if, after some time (one year? three years?) the track has not licensed. That way you don't give it away forever if they don't make you any money. If you have hired players yourself, you could negotiate over their supposed "out of pocket" costs.

    The other thing is to ask for some kind of limit to how much they spend -- if they spend over a certain amount, they don't recoup, or they have to talk to you first to be entitled to recoup. Not saying you'll get that but it's not an unfair thing to ask what they picture spending on "mastering" or "remixing." Those can cost not much or a heck of a lot.
     

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