Creating contracts and agreements in creative media can be quite tricky, specifically due to the fact that it’s concerned with intellectual property. This blog post will talk about the specificities of a contract and the rights that an audio engineer would consider for a band recording project, similar to my major project for this trimester. In recent years, the role of the engineer/producer has expanded a fair bit, as many of us now work on a freelance basis, there is now a need for booking studios, budgeting, hiring equipment as well as the trusted vision for the project. As we’re mainly independent, we have an obligation to be aware of we rights and entitlements we have for our projects.
The contract aims to ensure a balanced and fair relationship between artist and producer, and speaks clearly about making sure that everyone receives a fair amount of payment, the grounds of product ownership are laid out, and that both parties can use the product to its utmost capabilities. There are a couple of ways that an agreement can go from the Producer’s perspective.
The more commonly used agreement with smaller artists, is to charge a fee for the project or per song, this basically means that the producer is being paid for their service and doesn’t have any real ownership to the product. Other than an addition to their portfolio and their name on the project as “Producer”. In this scenario, as the producer doesn’t have ownership, they’re not entitled to any percentage of royalties that are gained.
This is more commonly used with bigger bands and producers. The producer will decide to take a part ownership in the project, this means there is no sum of payment for the producer, just as any of the artists involved. The benefit of this degree of ownership is that the producer is then entitled to receive a percentage of royalties. Which makes good sense, especially on projects that sell millions of copies and get huge recognition, as it will yield a far greater return than if they had been paid upfront.
These agreements can vary depending on the involvement of the producer in the composition, if they’re heavily involved in the creating of a song and contribute, for example, 50% of the song. Then they’re entitled to part ownership of the song and the respective amount of royalties to follow. Personally as a younger producer doing an alternative/indie EP, I would vouch for Agreement 1, mainly due to the fact that I there isn’t a lot of money in this market for younger producers working with smaller artists, getting paid upfront is far more ideal than waiting for “potential” royalties, as with smaller artists, it’s much harder to guarantee a high return.
These contracts should include a number of other articles including…
- The specifications of the product or the object, and services
- Is the producer under an exclusive contract to the project? Meaning they can only work on the project that they are signed to until it’s completion.
- The duration of the project
- What are the deadlines for certain milestones and/or bookings?
- The authorisation granted to the producer, with regards to exploitation of the product
- Who has ownership/copyright over all of the audio recorded?
- Who has the rights to publish?
- Sessions for studio time and when the artist is required
- Cost for each studio session
- Fees and Royalties (if applicable) to be paid, from online or hardcopy purchases and broadcast etc… as well as dates and accounts
- What are the included production costs? Is this part of the producers expenses?
- Agreement on advertising and promotion
Arts Law : Legal information for musicians. (2016). Artslaw.com.au. Retrieved 25 November 2016, from http://www.artslaw.com.au/legal/raw-law/legal-information-for-musicians/
Salmon, R. (2008). A Guide To Contracts For Producers | Sound On Sound. Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 25 November 2016, from http://www.soundonsound.com/music-business/guide-contracts-producers
VINCENT, J. (2016). 10 Music contracts (pp. 6-10). Paris: United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CLT/diversity/pdf/WAPO/10Music_en.pdf
Lykens, A. (2012). Non-Exclusive Contracts vs. Exclusive Contracts – Part 1 « American Songwriter. American Songwriter. Retrieved 25 November 2016, from http://americansongwriter.com/2012/10/songwriter-u-non-exclusive-vs-exclusive-part-1/
Difference between an exclusive & a non-exclusive licence | IPR Helpdesk. (2016). Iprhelpdesk.eu. Retrieved 25 November 2016, from https://www.iprhelpdesk.eu/kb/3189-what-difference-between-exclusive-and-non-exclusive-licence
AMIN,. (2016). Producer Contract Fact Sheet (pp. 1-2). Sydney: Australian Music Industry Network and MusicNSW. Retrieved from http://www.musicnsw.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/ProducerContractFactSheet_web.pdf