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Spec Deals / Advice / Tips Reverb & Delay Plugins
Old 24th July 2002
  #1
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Spec Deals / Advice / Tips

After e-cue's questions on another post I thought that this might be a good topic to expand. I know that I would like to hear how other's work and as there's so many different ways to structure these deals i would be really interested to hear how you all navigate these waters.

Being an Artist, Producer and Label I guess I can come at this from all different angles and appreciate the benefits as well as the pitfalls of these deals.

e-cue, there are really any number of ways to go about things but maybe one of the simplest ways to get started, assuming you know the people relatively well and generally trust them, would be a nice, short "heads of agreement" outlining the project, listing the titles being recorded, listing whose involved and any other details such as dates, times and places of sessions.

One key point that I would include is that YOU are the owner of the Masters. Generally, the party that pays for the recordings are the owners and since your contributing your skills as a producer/engineer free of charge this would be considered an acceptable exchange.

Owning the Masters protects your work from being used without your consent ie. them using the recordings commercially and you not getting paid.

In order to prevent the artists from getting all stressed out about signing something that says you own the masters and worrying about you possibly releasing their songs and stealling all the millions they assume they should be making, you should add that you don't have the right to license or commercially release the songs.

Of course, if someone does want to pick up the recordings, the rights can be negotiated accordingly between both parties.

This is a VERY general outline that doesn't even begin to deal with Rights of the Producer, points, advances, renumeration or anything like that. It's simply a starting point. A way to get into the studio and see what happens while ever so slightly protecting both you and the band.

Without getting too stupid about things, there's a lot of trust involved.

I generally see spec deals as a great way of working with people that you like and feel might have the potential to do something really good if they had the opportunity and resources to record properly.

As always YMMV. Sometimes things don't work out. Bands don't come back. In these instances you just chalk it up to experience. In most other cases though (hopefully grudge ) people will appreciate what you've done for them, come back when they've been signed and since you already have a great relationship, you make a great record and loads a wonga!

When in doubt, go see a lawyer....

BUT be sure to take your checkbook

Hope this helps.

R.

P.S. Maybe we can start a list of key contract points that others find useful in these situations?
Old 24th July 2002
  #2
This will be real interesting I am sure....

Ol' Betsey Satan wrote:

"One key point that I would include is that YOU are the owner of the Masters. Generally, the party that pays for the recordings are the owners and since your contributing your skills as a producer/engineer free of charge this would be considered an acceptable exchange.

Owning the Masters protects your work from being used without your consent ie. them using the recordings commercially and you not getting paid.

In order to prevent the artists from getting all stressed out about signing something that says you own the masters and worrying about you possibly releasing their songs and stealling all the millions they assume they should be making, you should add that you don't have the right to license or commercially release the songs.

Of course, if someone does want to pick up the recordings, the rights can be negotiated accordingly between both parties."


**********

IMHO not such a good idea, why should any clever manager allow every aspect of negotiations to be down to YOU?!



A 'share in ownership' of the masters is better, but as a studio based pro, you should free up and give managerial types & lawyers 'scope' to do their **** without constant 'refererence' back to you.

Band manager - "they are offering us a good deal" what is your opinion?
You - "I will call you back I am in the middle of vocals, 2am sound OK?"

No chance!

My agreements GIVE the artist the master, to do with as they please, but I retain an interest in them, so would benefit from Film, TV ad's etc... But then my spec agreements also involve publishing too which is quite 'heavy'.

Look forward to more info shareing on this later....

Old 24th July 2002
  #3
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Managers? Clever?

Oh if only it were that way. Our lives would be that must simpler and the bands we work with that much more successful.

Regarding negotiations: there's no negotiations. Your not trying to sign the band. There's no commercial value in the recordings unless THEY want to release the recordings and then you can negotiate the value and discuss a buy-out etc.

I agree that you would be very hard pressed finding a "clever" manager doing this type of deal if you were advertising your company "Hit O Matic" from the back of a newspaper. Although it does still happen!

But given the opportunity to work with a talented engineer/producer (and generally I mean someone with quantifiable skill and success within the genre/industry), I think just about any manager would be more than happy to let you impart your magic fairy dust over his/her bands music, at no cost to the band/management, in exchange for the ownership in the recordings you've done. Remember, your not asking for the commercial rights and any manager that knows what their talking about would realize this.

This isn't so strange. When a band does demo's for a major label, the label owns the masters. When a publisher pays for demo's, the publisher owns the masters. BUT they don't have the right to release these recordings unless they have a written agreement to exploit the songs/recordings. In practice, if they decide to pass on the band they will allow the band to use the recordings. As a producer, in the context of a production deal, this is no different.

But also remember, your not asking the band to give you any interest in the SONGS, your just safegaurding yourself against them using your recordings commercially without your consent.

The band/management are totally free to shop these recordings, AS DEMOS, to whoever they please. In fact, this is another good way of generating more work for yourself. Your essentially letting someone punt around your production work.

Indeed, "share of ownership" is already getting more complicated than what I was discussing because you then need to decide how this ownership is split.

Some say it's best to get all this in writing before you begin, others say that the less you have in writing, the more manoeuvrability you have later. It's tricky. You have to decide for yourself. With legal advice, of course!

In the simplest terms, your "speculating" on the fact that the band/label will dig what you've done, sign the band and allow you to produce the album.

Unfortunately, according to Jules' shark picture, he's already experiencing the dreaded phone calls and if you decide to set up a publishing/record company this has to be expected. But again, like he said, that's what a good business manager is for. (if you can afford one )

R.

P.S. Jules, I think a publishing company is a great way of maintaining an "interest" in the songs you've worked on, wether they use your recordings or not. This way, for instance, if a band were to get forced by their label into using another producer, yet later still had a hit with one of the songs you A+R'd, you would still benefit from the initial work you put in to the bands developement. Definitely much more complex than what I'm describing above (you need to a start a publishing company! yuktyy ) but a great way to get more involved in the business.
Old 24th July 2002
  #4
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e-cue's Avatar
 

I guess the main thing that bugs me about spec deals is that you pretty much HAVE to put it all in writing. I have signed 5 contracts in my recording career. I'm a handshake kinda guy, and kinda feel that if I have to put it in writing, then I'm not working with someone that is trustworthy, and I'd never knowingly take a gig with a shadey client. I hate management, but a spec deal would definately justify me going that route.

If anyone can offer up some contract templates, it would be much appreciated.
Old 24th July 2002
  #5
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Hi e-cue.

I too am a handshake-type guy and luckily I haven't had any problems. Yet...

We should remember that even a modest handshake/verbal agreement can be considered a binding contract. It's just a little (or A LOT) more difficult to prove.

I agree though, a simple written contract can save headaches in the future. Unfortunately in my experience once anything seemingly simple is given to a lawyer, it returns blindingly complex. I might add that the lawyer that told me it's sometimes better the less you have written down went on to become the CEO of Universal Music Europe. He was also the one that said you can get out of ANY contract! Do I agree with this? I don't know. But luckily I never had to try iy out.

I won't waste any more precious webspace with my ideas on this () but it would be great to gather others' opinions and maybe piece together a simple "heads of agreement" template with the most basic points outlined.

Remember to see a lawyer if it gets too crazy!

Good Luck.

R.
Old 25th July 2002
  #6
Artists will have lawyers, lawyers won't dig a stranger "owning the masters" you could be...

a) mad
b) a total pain in the ass
c) a moron

So lawyers will discorage artists to risk signing such an agreement in my experience.

So, anyone had any takers for the 'master owning spec deals then?

Old 25th July 2002
  #7
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Hey Jules!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Artists will have lawyers, lawyers won't dig a stranger "owning the masters" you could be...

a) mad
b) a total pain in the ass
c) a moron

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Or the "stranger" could be a very talented engineer/producer that genuinely wants to help a band further their career. Don't forget that, ok?

Generally, I think that most people (managers/lawyers) can tell pretty quickly if they're dealing with ****-ups. That's what they get paid for.

But they can also tell if someone is on the level and just trying to protect themselves.

I know quite a few lawyers that, for instance, when given the opportunity to help kick start a bands career, would more than happily let someone control the masters until the band (hopefully) gets signed and can buy the masters. Production deals like this are really pretty common.

I've seen bands sign worldwide deals for the crappiest royalties and ****tiest advances just because they have no other offers. Lots of em' in fact.

Don't you think that a lawyer or a manager would, if given half the chance, rather give a band one last shot with an experienced producer who might pull something out of the band that makes everybody go WHOA before he signs them off to some 'no hoper' that doesn't give a **** and just needs a tax right-off? All the managers that I know would but maybe we deal in different circles (although judging by the amount of people we seem know in common, i doubt this).

In fact, I would tend to think that a lawyer would be much more suspicious of band signing away their publishing at such an early stage in their career than somebody actually owning the rights to a couple of demos that they (the producer/owner) can't do anything with commercially.

Hell, how many studios state that they own the master tapes until 'Paid In Full'?

But it all boils down to the individuals involved.

Example: One of the first bands I ever worked with started with some demos I did for free. Then they were fortunate enough to get signed to one of the two biggest "true" indies in the UK. I was asked to produce their debut, which I did and all went as well as could expected blah blah blah and the years past. Then a couple of years ago, while half way around the world, I get a call from one of the A+R guys saying "where are you? We've got a check for you and nobody knows where your at!". And thank god cuz I really needed the money! But the point is that we NEVER signed a thing. We talked about my advance and the points that I would receive and shook hands. That was it. Trust

What I'm trying to say is that not all people (wether artists, managers or producers) are mad, a total pain in the ass or morons. And most people that I know don't deal with everybody as if they are (artsists, managers and lawyers included).

You have to protect yourself, yes, but you also have to keep an open mind and try stay away from the people you've mentioned above.

Time for some . I've got to be in the studio in a few hours to finish some B-sides for a SPEC DEAL that I'M working on at the moment!

And to answer your question: No, we don't have a written contract but Yes, we have a verbal agreement that states that I own the masters... And we're open to offers!

Could I get ****ed over? Yep. Will I? Maybe. Will it matter in the long run? Not really. Some you win, some you lose. But we're all really happy and we're makin' a rockin' ****in' record in the meantime!

Peace yuktyy Love Happiness

R.
Old 25th July 2002
  #8
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Fibes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Ol' Betsey
Hi e-cue.

I too am a handshake-type guy and luckily I haven't had any problems. Yet...

We should remember that even a modest handshake/verbal agreement can be considered a binding contract. It's just a little (or A LOT) more difficult to prove.

R.
Para1:

You are indeed lucky or haven't done anything with any sort of expectations...

Para2:

This is a very dangerous statement, verbal agreements are only worth the paper they are printed on.

FWIW

Owning the masters is viewed as harsh by most peoples "bull****" detectors so I prefer to use the "lean" terminology. There is nothing worse than a band agonizing over the completion of a record and never having any hope of doing something with it.
After an appropriate amount of time of shopping the band hasn't found a home there are other ways of recouping from them. Film placement monies, independent sales, and other avenues can be funneled to you by way of a lean on the publishing/masters. It enables the band to regain ownership by either selling thier asses off, getting placed in a film, or... It also has a nice incentive side effect.

BTW
Most lawyers have boilerplate versions of spec deals that can be tailored for a small fee. If the band doesn't want to use a contrct (condom) then I'm not getting into bed with 'em. Hot bass player or not.
Old 25th July 2002
  #9
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I found this on the web somewhere. What do you all think? I'm very interrested in this topic, as I'm currently writing with several unsigned artists and doing spec producing for several bands. I'd like to find something comprehensive that's fair and protects all parties.

LETTER OF AGREEMENT

This document constitutes a letter of agreement between _______________________(Artist), and ________________________(Producer) for the recording and production of the Artist's performances of original material and/or cover material for a demo recording (the "Demo"). This recording is to be distributed to record, management, and publishing companies for the purposes of the Artist's acquiring a recording and/or publishing contract. The Producer and the Artist will use their best efforts to produce this recording at _______________________, or other comparable facilities. In addition, the Producer will aid in the distribution of the recording (the Demo) to the appropriate parties. A fee of $__________ per song will be paid to the Producer upon the signing of the Artist to a recording or publishing contract within the time period of length of time not longer than 7 years. Studio time will be paid by the Artist by actual invoice. These monies will come from the Artist's advances, superceding any prior or future commitments. The Producer will contract for "Spec" time at the recording studios. Studio "spec" time is defined as time that will be paid for by the Artist at a rate of $_____ per hour payable (1) If and when the Artist is signed to any recording and/or publishing contracts or (2) In the event of the mutual termination of this agreement that includes the removal of pre-recorded tapes (the Demo) by the Artist, or agents for the Artist from the Studio. No master tapes or media will be released prior to final payment with the exception of "rough" mixes to the artist for production considerations and finished copies of the demo to be distributed to the appropriate parties. The Artist will also bear the responsibility for payment for all materials to be used for the production of this demo. In the event of a mutual termination of this agreement, that includes the removal of recording media by the Artist or agents for the Artist from the studio, all production fees, as well as the studio billing, must be paid in full. If and when the Artist is signed to a recording contract as a result of the demo tape, the Producer will have the right of first refusal, as producer for the Artist's first two contracted albums at a competitive rate of renumeration for these services. In the event that the record company or the Artist feel that the Producer is not suited to perform these task, this agreement may be terminated for the fee of $_______ per album, for the atrist's first two contracted albums paid by the artist or agents for the artist to the producer.

ACCEPTED AND AGREED:


_______________________ Dated: ___________
ARTIST

_______________________ Dated: ___________
PRODUCER
Old 25th July 2002
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Not sure where the waggling finger smiley face came from, but it was not intended. Sorry.
Old 25th July 2002
  #11
Lives for gear
 

GREAT THREAD!!

Highly relavent to me at this time. Thanks Gearsluts!!!

R
Old 25th July 2002
  #12
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Fibes's Avatar
 

BTW All relevance aside. The word is REMUNERATE not renumerate. It's splitting hairs but, I prefer to be remunerated for my services as opposed to renumerated.

ICYWW I was a fourth grade state spelling bee champ. Life has been a series of letdowns ever since...
Old 25th July 2002
  #13
Lives for gear
 

But you did graduate 4th grade in the end, right Fibes?

Anyway, I knew I had spelled relevant incorrectly, but life's two short too go back...

R
Old 25th July 2002
  #14
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Fibes's Avatar
 

Yeah it is... I did and damn if I can only get this little lolita signed...heh
Old 25th July 2002
  #15
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Quote:
The word is REMUNERATE not renumerate.
Like I said, I found it somewhere on the web. Not having that word in my vocabulary, I'd probably replace it with some other word or phrase like, "Gimme!"dfegad
Old 26th July 2002
  #16
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Jeez Hifi, that's cool. Short and sweet. It pretty much states, quite clearly, what I was trying to say but was obviously not saying very well.

Fibes? "remunerate"? I stand corected. I mean corrected!

And your right, I have indeed been very lucky. And a lot of the 'handshake' projects that I've worked on have started out as favours with a little "Man, I hope you guys don't forget me when your massive" talk over beers at the end of the night. Is this professionally responsible? Absolutely not, I hang my head in shame.

But trying to add to the constructiveness of this topic, today I talked to a friend of mine and learned (and confirmed) a few very important points.

1. Verbal agreements ARE legally binding contracts. However flimsy and difficult to prove.

2. The Producer, unless under specific employment, usually owns the rights to the recordings, as in standard production deals.

BUT. And this has totally opened my eyes and... MY FLAMESUIT IS ON!!!!

The Producer must have this agreement in writing because in the case of copyright assignment (and property purchases/credit) verbal contracts will NOT be enforcable.

I have to admit that I've have been walking through half of my business life ignorantly believeing that a verbal contract based on clear and detailed discussion, while not being watertight, would still hold me in good stead.

God was I wrong. And God am I lucky nothing has gone pear-shaped on me up until this point. I mean, half of the deals I do with the bands on my label are handshake deals.

This discussion may well have just saved my ass from future heartache!

You learn something new everyday. In my defence though, I did suggest that e-cue get a little something written down, didn't I?

Onward and upward!

Peace

R.
Old 26th July 2002
  #17
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
P.S. There's a gorgeous picture of Kylie on www.bbc.co.uk
She's so sweet
Quick...
Old 26th July 2002
  #18
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
Oh and before all you bombard me with your disgusting innuendo...

I meant: Quick... Go look at the website before they change it!

Obviously

R.
Old 26th July 2002
  #19
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Henchman's Avatar
The spec deals I do these days include the following points.

1. I get 3points.
2. I get 10% of publishing of the songs recorded under the agreement.
3. If the band gets a deal, I still get 1.5points if any of the songs are re-recorded.

They don't agree. I don't do the deal. I'm fed up using my talents to further other peoples careers while getting stabbed in the back.
Old 26th July 2002
  #20
Nice one!

IMHO a share in revinues generated by the masters (films & ad's) is also a good clause idea.

Old 26th July 2002
  #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Henchman
...3. If the band gets a deal, I still get 1.5points if any of the songs are re-recorded.
This is the one that does it for me. Henchman, you ROCK. This way, they have less incentive to re-record for the sole purpose of squeezing your ass out of compensation. I love it, and I wanna use it.

Is 3 points high? I thought it was usually 2, but I honestly do not know, I'm asking you guys
Old 26th July 2002
  #22
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Randy Copus



Is 3 points high? I thought it was usually 2, but I honestly do not know, I'm asking you guys
3 points is normal.
Old 26th July 2002
  #23
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Fibes's Avatar
 

I have something to add...

1. There is a difference between spec and production deals.

A spec deal is a little more straightforward and harder (not impossible) to negotiate a % of publishing with a savvy attorney. The production deal typically gets a different set of reimbursable scenarios depending on writing, arranging and deli tray credits. It is helpful to list yourself as producer (50%) and engineer (50%) because they are recouped in different fashions. It helps get the cash back quicker...
Old 27th July 2002
  #24
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
I like the deli tray comment!

When I'm on spec ther'es definitely no deli tray (cuz there's no money coming in!) but I at least try to make sure there's biscuits for the band. I think Milk Chocolate Hob Nobs (it's an english thang) or Chocolate Chip go down well.

But If I I'm being employed as a producer then I make sure my "rider" includeds a pizza with all the toppings!

Fibes, I'b be really interested how you work the engineer/producer advances and how they differ in the ways that they're recouped.

I've honestly never thought of this...

I've always engineered my projects but have settled on the one advance as a producer.

R.
Old 27th July 2002
  #25
Have half the money written in as a 'non recoupable engineering fee' - that dfegad them off as there is nothing they can argue about there...

heh
Old 28th July 2002
  #26
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
I love it when record companies can't argue heh

www.starpolish.com/advice/article.asp?id=99

I found this sight while investigating. Here's an example of their production agreement. It's quite cool in that it discusses each subject from both the artist and procucers standpoint (great if you don't want to be fair but not rip anybody off). For example in it's subtext it has definitions of Artist-financed and Producer-financed contracts. It also explains under each of it's clauses why different terminology is used and why it's needed.

It's pretty long (12 pages and I have to admit that last night I fell asleep halfway through!) but it trys not to leave any of the important bits out.

The site, in general, is a little How To/Help Yourself but I found some great information hidden in there.

www.starpolish.com/advice/index.asp

R.
Old 30th July 2002
  #27
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e-cue's Avatar
 

That does it, I'm taking up gardening. *covers ears from deafening applause*


This is a very informative thread. It's making me reconsider management. At least on a gig-by-gig basis.
Old 30th July 2002
  #28
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Ol' Betsey's Avatar
You know what e-cue?

In my book, anybody that can work with Wu Tang Clan, mix Tweet AND still dig Andy Wallace has pretty much got it goin' on!

When I was a kid in California I did the gardening thing (except we called it Landscape Architecture, thank you very much) and now I:

A. Sit up at night and wonder how the bands on my label are going to pay for their hotel rooms on tour.

B. Sit up at night and wonder how I'm going to finish writing my next record.

C. Sit up at night and wonder where I'm going to get another £1400 to buy a Royer SP12 instead of having to rent one!

And well, gardening was fun but it wasn't Rock N' Roll!

Managers can be great. And managers can be ****. But the great thing about a good manager is that they'll keep things moving while your busy with your head stuck in front of a kick drum.

Until that happens though, just keep educating yourself about the in's and out's of the industry (like your doing!) and try to stay away from the shoreline cuz there's some mean fishies in them there waters...

It's been nice talking to ya. I know I'm a contrary bastard sometimes but I hope some of the posts have helped you out.

R.

P.S. Believe me though when I say that not a day goes by that I don't think of puttering around, beer in hand, on one of those mini-tractor/lawnmowers in the California sun with a swimming pool waiting for me at the end. It ain't rock n' roll be it sure is nice! London
Old 30th July 2002
  #29
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
In my book, anybody that can work with Wu Tang Clan, mix Tweet AND still dig Andy Wallace has pretty much got it goin' on!
Why thank you. Andy's work on 60 second wipe out is one of my all time favorite engineered records, total aural chaos.

Quote:
And well, gardening was fun but it wasn't Rock N' Roll!
Yeah, fishing would come in a close second.

Quote:
Managers can be great. And managers can be ****.
Unfortunately, I haven't meet a manager "right" for me (even when I was doing studio sessions at age 13). I enjoy tracking AND mixing. I also enjoy working in different genres of music. Most of the managers I've encountered would have me mix pop music all day (pays more), which just doesn't seem like enough variety for me.
Old 30th July 2002
  #30
Aw skip em for a while longer, in this recession they will be all running scared, I have had 3 and a half managers as a producer, I don't dig em much at all..

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