Contracts, Contracts & Contracts...
Old 8th December 2012
  #1
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Contracts, Contracts & Contracts...

A rather strange request. However, I'm helping my friend to be a little more organised with the running of his studio. It's nothing large or commercial but he earns a nice little living off of it.

One thing that's become apparent is the lack of any paperwork for booking, recording contracts etc... etc... Without spending lot's of time with a music solicitor are there ready made contract packages you can purchase online which cover EVERYTHING? Not only that, one's that have been legally approved?

With Christmas coming up I think it'd be a nice treat. If not a comical pun. I have no knowledge in this area as I work freelance as a mixing engineer / composer so I can't exactly advice on the running of the business side, greatly.

Thanks for any help.
Old 8th December 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
It depends on the market he's in. A lot of business happens with only a figurative handshake. Bands and such aren't always into signing contracts. It would also require knowing his personal philosophies about how he likes to get paid, when he's comfortable releasing master tapes, etc. Recording studios are such a niche business that it's hard to find a one size fits all legal solution.

So, the best thing to do might be to find a small business lawyer familiar with music in your area. I'm not a lawyer, but hope to be one within the next year, so I cannot advise other than to say find some good advice from a licensed attorney.
Old 9th December 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Definition of a contract. " Offer + acceptance , over time....with consideration ( value for exchange ) "

Nothing in there about reducing that to writing is there ?
Thats because all contracts are first verbal or based upon action.

Definition of a "written " contract. " The best evidence OF the contract " Notice the large OF in there. Something that is Of something is not the thing it is only a part or an aspect of it. Therefore the contract is something other than the paper portion we often view as the contract.

Point is if you understand the nature of contract as being about actions taken in commerce you don't need a written contract to have the force of law. It does however help mitigate misunderstandings when things are reduced to writing up front. Prevents misunderstanding in many cases. Problem is that if you are not careful to include every little detail in the written portion arguments can ensue over express vs implied issues.
Old 9th December 2012
  #4
Gear maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by targa2 View Post
Definition of a contract. " Offer + acceptance , over time....with consideration ( value for exchange ) "

Nothing in there about reducing that to writing is there ?
Thats because all contracts are first verbal or based upon action.

Definition of a "written " contract. " The best evidence OF the contract " Notice the large OF in there. Something that is Of something is not the thing it is only a part or an aspect of it. Therefore the contract is something other than the paper portion we often view as the contract.

Point is if you understand the nature of contract as being about actions taken in commerce you don't need a written contract to have the force of law. It does however help mitigate misunderstandings when things are reduced to writing up front. Prevents misunderstanding in many cases. Problem is that if you are not careful to include every little detail in the written portion arguments can ensue over express vs implied issues.
Some contracts must be written to be enforceable (In the US). The ones that someone might reasonably deal with in a studio application are those that require more than a year to execute, and those for the sale of goods over $500.
Old 10th December 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
I built up a news agency that employed 12 journalists, without signing a single contract with a customer. I run a studio without having contracts.

As you use the word 'solicitor' I assume that you are in the UK and that means that common law governs what you do and how you do it fairly comprehensively. The conditions governing running a commercial studio in the UK are the same as those for running an auto repair shop.

One word of warning - you speak of 'releasing masters' and that is dangerous talk, as the music recorded is never ever the property of the studio and cannot be released or not released, as it not yours, so you cannot decide what to do with it.
Old 10th December 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Byre View Post

One word of warning - you speak of 'releasing masters' and that is dangerous talk, as the music recorded is never ever the property of the studio and cannot be released or not released, as it not yours, so you cannot decide what to do with it.
I think I did not explain what I meant very well. I meant releasing the masters to the artist and whether you are comfortable doing it before they settle their bill. I've done it when I know the artists and feel comfortable that they will pay. OTOH, I've had friends who keep waiting for payment long after the album has already been released to the general public and is making money, never to see their bill settled. The artist doesn't care if they burn bridges, but eventually that kind of behavior will catch up to them. All I am saying is that it's a good idea to have payment policies in place and while they can be flexible, it's best to have them communicated up front.

While the studio cannot decide what happens to the music, the physical recordings that are made in your facility are not the property of the artist until they are paid for.
Old 11th December 2012
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edwinhurwitz View Post
While the studio cannot decide what happens to the music, the physical recordings that are made in your facility are not the property of the artist until they are paid for.
Which is actually contrary to copyright law. If they wanted, the law would be on their side for getting their recordings, outstanding bill or not. You would need to take your own legal action to get paid.

But honestly, if a band isn't paying, and you've sent them a legitimate invoice, then just hand it over to a debt collector. They'll buy the debt off you and chase it down themselves.
Old 11th December 2012
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTStudios View Post
Which is actually contrary to copyright law. If they wanted, the law would be on their side for getting their recordings, outstanding bill or not. You would need to take your own legal action to get paid.

But honestly, if a band isn't paying, and you've sent them a legitimate invoice, then just hand it over to a debt collector. They'll buy the debt off you and chase it down themselves.
Perhaps it's counter to Australian law, but copyright doesn't enter into it in US law as far as I can see, if you are not copying, performing or otherwise distributing the music. I've never heard of anyone being sued for violation of copyright for not playing/reproducing, etc., a work.

Copyright prevents a violator from doing the following to your work:

• Copy it/reproduce it in copies or phonorecords
• Prepare derivative works
• To distribute copies
• To perform it publicly (for a specified category of works)
• To display publicly (for another specified category of works)

None of those come into play when withholding a master tape for nonpayment. On this side of the pond, I would not assume that court would find for the delinquent artist. I'd be curious to see how Australian copyright law would provide a cause of action.
Old 11th December 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
And once again, Gearslutz settles the age-old philosophical question, 'Do two people who don't know what they are talking about, know more or less than one person who doesn't know what he is talking about?'
Old 11th December 2012
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Byre View Post
And once again, Gearslutz settles the age-old philosophical question, 'Do two people who don't know what they are talking about, know more or less than one person who doesn't know what he is talking about?'
What are you talking about?

Old 11th December 2012
  #11
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hahah

Well. Its about distinguishing the physical recording from the physical medium.

you cannot withhold recordings from your clients. However - you could say "this disk is mine" which would be true but you can't stop your client from gaining access to their recordings. So if they turn up with a disk you can;'t stop them from taking the recordings. They are not the studios to withhold.

In acting "reasonable" - if it was on "tape" even though the "tape" was the studios property the recording would belong to the client. The law would argue for reasonable compensation and reasonable behaviour from the studio. That would amount to handing over the tapes and an invoice and chasing down payment and NOT withholding the recordings.

Now, depending upon territory, there are different processes you could go into if you thought the client was not going to pay OR they had not fulfilled their obligations under your pre-recording agreement (you did do one ? ). Byre is quite the expert on these matters but I generally operate under the hand it over and invoice way of working!
Old 11th December 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwinhurwitz View Post
While the studio cannot decide what happens to the music, the physical recordings that are made in your facility are not the property of the artist until they are paid for.
Quite the opposite! The physical recording ARE the property of the artist, regardless of payment status.

As I pointed out above, it is the same as putting your car in for servicing. The car does not become the property of the garage, just because you haven't paid. Unless the garage exercises a lien, they must hand over the car. Same with recordings.

Under US law, the lien must be filed by an officer of the court, i.e. a lawyer. In the UK, this can be done by the plaintiff, but this can be very dangerous, as misuse of a lien is (in all jurisdictions) a criminal offence.
Old 11th December 2012
  #13
Gear maniac
 

This is all very interesting (and important). Does anyone know any good resources for law as it relates specifically to recording, where I might be able to educate myself a little better without having to take on the entirety of contract and copyright law?
Old 11th December 2012
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cakeshoppe View Post
This is all very interesting (and important). Does anyone know any good resources for law as it relates specifically to recording, where I might be able to educate myself a little better without having to take on the entirety of contract and copyright law?
Www.gearlutz.com
Old 12th December 2012
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Byre View Post
As you use the word 'solicitor' I assume that you are in the UK and that means that common law governs what you do and how you do it fairly comprehensively.

One word of warning - you speak of 'releasing masters' and that is dangerous talk, as the music recorded is never ever the property of the studio and cannot be released or not released, as it not yours, so you cannot decide what to do with it.
Yes he's based in the UK. So how much our laws differentiate in this area, to you great gents across the pond, I assume isn't that much different.

All the agreements are verbally based, which is fine to a certain extent. However a pre-recording contract would be nice. He's never really had trouble with clients not paying, the worst is they never pay when they say or they pay in short amounts over months, contrary to the original agreement.

The other problem I've discovered is he gives artists rights to any integral creative input, and by that I mean arrangement's / melodies that are integral to the song, for the artists he produces. He doesn't seem to be too bothered not taking credit for such things but I think he should! So there's another contract that would be good to have.

Now the argument here, from my own experience with selling music to Indie developers, is if you ask for royalties 90% of the time you wont make any money, as a lot of these indie "DEVs" actually don't get their product to market. As he's only working with low profile artists, what would be a better rout to go down? Can you actually have Exclusive & None-exclusive rights when it comes to bands?? Where-by they would pay a release fee? Like I would If i wanted to own exclusive rights on a song.
Old 13th December 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
Well, I'm not across any pond, but never mind!

The only thing that he might like to consider, is a simple contract, such as you sign when putting your car in for servicing, AKA an Order for Works Agreement, that gives the studio the right to withhold recordings until such time as payment has been made in full.

As for indie bands and arrangements and rights, well, how shall I put this? Let's just say that a dispute in this field of endeavour is like watching two bald men fighting over a comb.

If an act is good, it is not low-profile. Low-profile just means they ain't gigging, don't put enough effort into their music and can't really play anyway. A 'low-profile' artist in the indie scene is not worth a bucket of spit.

Them's the hard facts!
Old 13th December 2012
  #17
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Apologies, I just assumed you were from the states!! I'm jealous, it's rather nice up north.

Thanks for your input to the thread thus far. It's actually a lot simpler than I originally thought, it's just a case of a written agreement then. Possibly a little tough love, to get a flow going.
Old 16th May 2013
  #18
Gear interested
 

I think without any solicitor you can't complete the legal document because most of the people don't know completely that what document necessary for the registration that's why you need a soliciting services for your business and other things.
Gold Coast Family Law Solicitors
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