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First track release - does my contract sound good? Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 26th February 2014
  #1
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GJ999x's Avatar
First track release - does my contract sound good?

Hi all,

Any thoughts appreciated here, I dont think i'm under any illusions, just enjoying the thrill of getting my first track out on a label that is having some chart success in genre.

It's a single track that they'll produce a remix of (so, release is two tracks).

Contract (not signed yet) says

- Label is the master owner of the recoring
- 50% of net profits split between me and remixer (so, 25/25)

- Term: 7 years
- Net profit must be >$100 for the monthly payment, or it's carried over.
- Label is the only one who can promote, share the track etc., or contract voids.

That's about it, it's a one pager.

My opener question would be on the 50/50 split (is this standard?) and on the >$100 condition, which sounds a bit like "you dont see anything unless it sells >300 copies, which isnt something i'm about to rely on!

Anyway, thoughts much appreciated.

Thanks
Old 26th February 2014
  #2
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m127f's Avatar
 

That sounds like a mediocre contract that benefits them more than you... Like they are doing you a favor.
What are they going to do to promote your work specifically other than put "promotion" in the contract?



.
Old 26th February 2014
  #3
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Thanks - what they actually say is "Furthermore, Artist(s) acknowledges that any file
sharing, public, digital distribution for promotional or other consideration is strictly prohibited by the Label" and equals voided contract.

I'll check exactly what restrictions that places on me (i.e. can i post a low quality snippet on soundcloud etc....)

I'm a little more nervous about the net profit split - I'd get 25% of net, with "remixer" getting 25%, label getting 50%, that sounds a bit like label getting 25% to me...

Also genuinely nervous about the $100 points, would be lovely if it took off but realistically i'm not sure whether I shoudl be expecting sales that would take net profit to $400 in any given month, required if i was going to see any money..... will try and clarify.

Many thanks for your thoughts and and totally agree that I need to sort out who is promoting and how much...

G
Old 26th February 2014
  #4
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Thoughts:

Don't know if this is practical early in the game, but can you rent them the master for x years, rather than making them the owner of it?

Who gets the publishing and writing royalties on the composition (different from the master ownership), or how are those split up? Do you keep the copyright on the composition?

Anther question is if the song ever gets used in commercial or movie -- who controls this decision? Who gets paid what?

I understand that at the beginning you may or may not have much leverage. These questions might matter if the song takes off though. What about a consultation with a music business lawyer?

Sorry I have questions but not answers.
Old 26th February 2014
  #5
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cappo's Avatar
 

Hey GJ999x

I've had around 50 or so commercial releases so have had quite a bit of experience with contracts.

50/50 net profit split is fair although I've never seen an equal split between artist and remixer. If that's the case you should be able to approve the remixer & remix. Otherwise the remixer should be paid a fee agreed by you, also with joint approval from you and the label. Label should pay for the remix and obviously recoup before any profits are split

7 year license is reasonable

>$100 isn't really necessary unless you're based in a different country and there are bank charges incurred when paying you

And the end of the day if they're unwilling to budge on these points you have to decide whether you just wanna get the record out there and start building your profile. You'll make more money from publishing anyway which the label isn't trying to get a piece of. And you'll make even more money from live shows once you have a profile and are in demand!
Old 26th February 2014
  #6
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GJ999x's Avatar
Thanks all, so I guess I might go back and say

- Sounds great!
- [confirm what i'm allowed to do by way of promotion, i.e. snippets on soundcloud etc]
- [challenge 25/25 split, should be either (i) 15/35 or (ii) I get to approve remix]
- clarify why >$100 is necessary, though I am in a different country (US vs. UK)...

Chris - privileged to get advice from someone with such a strong track record.
Old 26th February 2014
  #7
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cappo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
Thanks all, so I guess I might go back and say

- Sounds great!
- [confirm what i'm allowed to do by way of promotion, i.e. snippets on soundcloud etc]
- [challenge 25/25 split, should be either (i) 15/35 or (ii) I get to approve remix]
- clarify why >$100 is necessary, though I am in a different country (US vs. UK)...

Chris - privileged to get advice from someone with such a strong track record.
Good luck with the record
Old 26th February 2014
  #8
Wildfunk
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
- Label is the master owner of the recoring
The label should not be the "master owner" but only the owner of a "master license".

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
- 50% of net profits split between me and remixer (so, 25/25)
This is ok, but you don't know what they mean with "net profits".

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
- Term: 7 years
A little bit long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
- Net profit must be >$100 for the monthly payment, or it's carried over.
So maybe you'll never get any money if the track doesn't sell well. But if you release more tracks there then the problem is solved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
- Label is the only one who can promote, share the track etc., or contract voids.
Ok, just share their posted tracks then.

But ask yourself: Do really want to give away your track for 7 years? Only to be on a "label" that pays you just a few bucks?
Old 26th February 2014
  #9
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Thanks v. much, lots of food for thought there....

Confusingly at the end of the contract it says "Licensing: 50/50".... what's the difference between "master owner" and "owner of master lisence"?
Old 26th February 2014
  #10
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spaceman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
Thanks v. much, lots of food for thought there....

Confusingly at the end of the contract it says "Licensing: 50/50".... what's the difference between "master owner" and "owner of master lisence"?
"Master owner" , they own the master, usually forever. "Owner of master license" , you own the master, and you are basically giving them an exclusive right to commercially exploit that master for a limited period of time ( decided between you and them). Then the rights revert to you and you can decide ( if you wish so) to sign that same track/album to another record company again for commercial exploitation.
Usually, unless the record company paid for the costs of creating/recording/mixing that track/album, you should be the owner of the master.
There are exceptions to this, of course.
Old 26th February 2014
  #11
Wildfunk
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
what's the difference between "master owner" and "owner of master lisence"?
"master owner" = can do whatever he wants with your track (put it on compilations, tv shows, let others do remixes) without your approval

"owner of master lisence" = maybe the "master" here is wrong, usually this guy can release your track on his label BUT all the rights remain with you (to release it on other compilations, release it for free, do your own promo)
Old 26th February 2014
  #12
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OK thanks - I assume that these terms alone dont mean that they would take all the profit from any compilation / TV etc they decided to use it on?

Also it does say "Lisenceing: 50/50"

Almost as much for my own sake but as a reminder, this is my first release, I've probably got no leverage at all.... Would still be good to shape the contract to the extent possible though...

G
Old 26th February 2014
  #13
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In my experience, I'd say you should really consult a lawyer with a proven track record in the music biz. This needn't be as expensive as it sounds, and although you may think at this stage it isn't worth it, what if the record takes off?

The key point that worries me, as somebody else has mentioned, is how do they define 'net profits'? i.e., which income stream(s) are they talking about - mechanicals, airplay, performance royalties, publishing, merchandising, live performance income? You need to tie this down. Then, what kind of overheads are they going to deduct from the gross?

It's your shout, of course, and you may want to tackle these points with the company yourself, but this is just an off-the-top-of-my-head list, so please don't think it's intended to cover everything.

Anyway, congratulations, and best of luck with the release - enjoy it
Old 26th February 2014
  #14
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Thank you, this is some of the most helpful advice i've gotten on GS.

Does anyone have a useful definition of net profits that I could offer up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by littleeden View Post
In my experience, I'd say you should really consult a lawyer with a proven track record in the music biz. This needn't be as expensive as it sounds, and although you may think at this stage it isn't worth it, what if the record takes off?

The key point that worries me, as somebody else has mentioned, is how do they define 'net profits'? i.e., which income stream(s) are they talking about - mechanicals, airplay, performance royalties, publishing, merchandising, live performance income? You need to tie this down. Then, what kind of overheads are they going to deduct from the gross?

It's your shout, of course, and you may want to tackle these points with the company yourself, but this is just an off-the-top-of-my-head list, so please don't think it's intended to cover everything.

Anyway, congratulations, and best of luck with the release - enjoy it
Old 26th February 2014
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

is there any mention of publishing?

better splits would be:

50/50 label/yourself for original mix
50/25/25 label/yourself/remixer for remix

because otherwise you could end up paying for a remix that doesn't sell out of sales from your own mix. I've seen that too many times.

oh, and make sure they aren't taking out any promotional or artwork costs before coming to the net profit.
Old 26th February 2014
  #16
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graphs's Avatar
This is a ****ty contract that gives them full ownership of the music to do with as they see fit while only needing to give you a quarter of net profits (definitely after their expenses and overhead). And probably only if you chase/harass/threaten. If you sign a contract like this that's like telling them you don't know what you're doing and don't have the resources to have a lawyer set it straight. It's doubtful you'd ever see a dime from this even if the track does moderately well. And you won't own your track anymore. Rule number one is to maintain control of your own publishing rights!

Maybe it's worth it to you to get your name out there but definitely this label does not have your interests in mind.
Old 26th February 2014
  #17
Deleted User
Guest
I agree with the other posters here, it's a bad contract. if you sign it gives that label full ownership of your music, and they can basically screw you over.

When i signed with a label over 10 years ago, i asked for an open contract, which mean't i could have tracks released on other labels, compilations etc. and i also retained full ownership and copyright of all my recorded works.

Would probably be best to consult a lawyer on this one before you sign.

Here's some good pointers and pitfalls on contracts from sound on sound: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr0.../contracts.htm
Old 26th February 2014
  #18
Free legal advice with musicians union I believe. Think it's them, you join and they will look at your contract for you. Not 100% on that.
Old 26th February 2014
  #19
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cappo's Avatar
 

yeah I agree you should try to get some legal advice from Musicians Union... not all of the advice you're getting here is accurate

a 7 year license deal isn't too bad. It's normal and reasonable for them to have full control over the master recording for that time as opposed to you being able to also give it away for free or do other licensing deals yourself... that could completely ruin the labels efforts.

it doesn't sound like they're interested in your publishing... there's no way they'd be legally entitled to anything from a single page heads of agreement

I suspect the licensing 50/50 clause refers to third party licensing - ie when they license the track out for compilations or labels in specific territories. 50/50 is normal...
Old 26th February 2014
  #20
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GJ999x's Avatar
Thanks all

I'm thinking of going back all enthusiastic tomorrow, asking only for the change in the amounts for me vs. the remixer, as suggested above subsonix

I might increase the numbers a bit so I get bargained down.

..... waiting patiently until tomorrow now in case I'm tonight
Old 26th February 2014
  #21
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tvsky's Avatar
if this is not your situation apologies but generally first release means :

as its your first release and you no doubt have lots of tracks no one is ever going to hear or care about or ever get released

take whatever you can get , you'll probably never get paid or paid properly anyway

when you have 100+ releases under your belt you can dictate terms

until your beating them away with a stick , it doesn't really matter . your options are this or nothing . they will promote you at their expense . anything else is a bonus and its more than what your getting giving stuff away for free on soundcoud
Old 27th February 2014
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
Thank you, this is some of the most helpful advice i've gotten on GS.

Does anyone have a useful definition of net profits that I could offer up?
Glad to be of service - since you're in the UK, you could always try giving PRS a ring and see if they can offer any advice.
Old 27th February 2014
  #23
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
That's about it, it's a one pager.
Don't see any mention of publishing rights. I'd make SURE I retained those.
Sync rights (which would come under publisher rights)? Make sure you've got that too, in case a music director somewhere wants to pop it into a TV show somewhere.

Are you a member of SESAC, ASCAP, or BMI? You need to be! Register as artist AND publisher and immediately register the song with them. If it gets airplay or used in a show, your label isn't going to collect royalties for you. Make sure you don't miss out on that revenue stream, which potentially can be larger than what the label may pay you for sales.

I scored an indie horror film a number of years ago for a small amount of $$$ and points in the films profits (way less money than anybody in their right mind should get for scoring a film), but as part of my contract, I KEPT all publishing/sync rights. I ended up making almost nothing from the film production company, as they signed a very bad distribution deal to "get it out there". The distribution company ended up making ALL the profit. However, it ended up on late night Showtime for a bit, and my ASCAP royalties exceeded everything anybody else involved ever made.

Best advice - take to an entertainment attorney that specializes in these things. If you want your stuff out there, make the label as happy as you can, but retain every bit of rights you can possibly keep your hands on.
Old 27th February 2014
  #24
Gear Maniac
 
riphead's Avatar
 

drop the contract!

so much effort just to be on a label?

why?

what are the benefits?

$20 in one year?
Old 27th February 2014
  #25
Gear Guru
Isn't the deal just for one record?

EDIT: oh, 7 years? I don't get it..
Old 27th February 2014
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riphead View Post
drop the contract!

so much effort just to be on a label?

why?

what are the benefits?

$20 in one year?

Yeah people sometimes forget that it's year 2014.
No one buy's music anymore, besides Dj's, and musicians.
Old 27th February 2014
  #27
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Ha.... Touche (though a lot of this rings true). Have you had much experience with releases?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvsky View Post
if this is not your situation apologies but generally first release means :

as its your first release and you no doubt have lots of tracks no one is ever going to hear or care about or ever get released

take whatever you can get , you'll probably never get paid or paid properly anyway

when you have 100+ releases under your belt you can dictate terms

until your beating them away with a stick , it doesn't really matter . your options are this or nothing . they will promote you at their expense . anything else is a bonus and its more than what your getting giving stuff away for free on soundcoud
Old 27th February 2014
  #28
bry
Gear Addict
 

A few things to consider...

What are your goals? Is it making money with the track or is it getting your name out there?

How well will the label promote your track? Have you been following how they promote other tracks? Will you benefit by being signed to that specific label? If they're really good at what they do and you think they can make a big difference on your career, then in my opinion money doesn't matter much, just use this track as a career investment, otherwise there's no point really, just release it yourself.

As for the split between you and remixer, unless he's a big name producer/artist who will give your track more exposure, I don't think a 50/50 split is really fair.
Old 27th February 2014
  #29
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tvsky's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GJ999x View Post
Ha.... Touche (though a lot of this rings true). Have you had much experience with releases?
ive released about 20 odd tracks over the last 8 or 9 years in a couple of different genre's on vinyl and digital

dont take anything personally , ive never heard your stuff , i dont know if its word changing or crap or anything at all . if your doing remixes for big pop starts on major labels none of this will apply . this is for small unknown producers putting tracks online for free now signing to small vinyl or digital label selling small amounts on juno or beatport etc . ie the bulk of the internet edm scene

generally first releases and small labels its not about the money . there is no money . small labels are terrible at paying whatever money there is

theres so much noise out there these days look at it as promotion , exposure , furthering your profile . if you get some cash thats a nice bonus . but its unlikely your going to have such a big selling hit first time round its worth fretting about little details

my fav deals were the ones the labels paid one off up front for specific vinyl runs ,even if the amount was smaller it was guaranteed. this doesnt happen in digital obviosuly .

2nd positive on the contract is rights return to you at some point in the future . labels generally move on or disappear so its nice if everything legally comes back to you incase you want to do something with the tracks again later on

apart from that dont worry too much you can always make more tracks . kiss this one goodbye , wish it well in the world and send it off
Old 28th February 2014
  #30
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvsky View Post
they will promote you at their expense .
This is the thing, they might not at all, depending on how those net profits are defined......you might be paying for it. If so before seeing a dime.
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