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Help: Demo Fees for Ads and Work For Hire
Old 6 days ago
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Help: Demo Fees for Ads and Work For Hire

Hi Guys,

A few months ago I did some cold calling/emailing and due to those efforts, last week a new client at a very well known custom ad music contacted me for a custom score. I am thrilled! However, I don't have much experience in the Ad game.

So they pay a very fare demo fee and the spot is a 3min score. I bang out the track it turns out fu*king awesome, turn it in ahead of the deadline and everyone is happy. The track turned out so well that if they don't select it I would like to retain ownership if it is not selected.

Is it common when creating a demo for a fee that if the client doesn't select it, the music house will want to buy the track work for hire?

I know if it is selected it will be a work for hire and they will purchase the track out right which is totally fine if I win.

My fear is that they will want to retain ownership of the song as work for hire for the demo if the song is not selected for the Ad. Is it in poor taste to turn down the demo fee to keep my copyright of the track? Do I have too and is this common? The song is $$$ and i know i can sync a lot more money in the future beyond the demo fee.

I would like to keep the door open to working with this company so a little help on the negotiation etiquette for this situation would be much appreciated!

Thank you!

Last edited by clearside; 6 days ago at 08:47 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 6 days ago
Gear Addict
drycappuccinoguy's Avatar
Base on what you describe, It seems thet you did it as work for hire so unless otherwise negotiated it would be theirs. Have they paid you yet?
Old 6 days ago
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
No not yet. No paperwork either. Turned it in on Tuesday and still don't know if its a win.
Old 6 days ago
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
It can go either way. Traditionally, this is how a lot of those types of companies build up their catalog. Their retain ownership on every "demo" that's submitted - even if it's chosen or not. They may take in 10 demos from various composers, and only one (hopefully) "wins", but they retain ownership of all 10. The demo "fees" pay for the acquisition of 10 pieces into their catalog. Generally, on these types of briefs, composers submit "finals" if they want to win the brief. Very few "demos" are what one might consider a "demo". They are good enough to be used as finals unless changes are needed / requested.

If you do NOT want to lose ownership if your piece is not chosen, best not to submit to these types of briefs - or conversely, a super quick conversation up front will reveal all you need to know to allow you to make decisions that you are comfortable with. Unfortunately, we cannot really give you any decent idea of the outcome of your music in terms of who owns it.
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
VitaEtMusica's Avatar

I turn down the demo fee to retain ownership all the time. They still know the music is there and they can ask for it in the future (maybe), but I can always beat the demo fee in other ways. When these music houses buy one's song, it typically disappears into a limbo/ether state where nothing ever happens with it. In the case of a lot of music I do, the music has a shelf life and can't sit around waiting for someone to discover it. It's got to get out and start working for me right away.
Old 5 days ago
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Thank you for the replies!

So would it be in bad form to decline the demo fee to keep the track? It's important to me that I keep and build this relationship. Is this common practice and I'm over thinking it?
Old 5 days ago
Gear Guru
drBill's Avatar
That's completely up to how you deal with the situation, and your relationship with the company. You need to contact them and ASK what their normal procedure is. If they show hesitance, you get a weird vibe, or they say they don't do that (allow composers to turn down demo fee and keep the ownership if not chosen) - and if you want to keep the relationship growing - just take the demo fee and move on. Write another piece. These days fees for signing music at exclusive libraries are dropping so low, that I'd be willing to bet your "demo" fee is probably close to what other libraries pay for a master. Make the company happy. Do what THEY want you to do if you want to continue with them.
Old 4 days ago
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Thank you Dr.Bill! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer.
Old 3 days ago
Here for the gear

I've never pitched without a demo dee and I would never hand over ownership, just because someone paid a demo fee. However, a friend of mine got caught by this recently, so make sure you sort out the details immediately, before assumptions are made.
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