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anybody have some knowledge of points and/or royalties, etc?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Muzique Fann, Nov 4, 2004.


  1. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Vague title I know, but this is a competely new thing for me and I'm "dragging" my drummer into it too.
    Synopsis:
    A while ago we did some gigs with this producer guy who also sings and plays many instruments - he really liked us as a rhythm section. He said he has things coming up that he wants us to be a part of. So a couple months pass and he wins an Emmy for some song in a t.v. documentary. He came over last night for a little chat. He's got a bunch of singers that want or need a real "band". He says that if it's the singers song that we probably won't get writing credits, but we would be able to get points and even royalties. (we live about 5 minutes apart, he's got a nice vocal booth and tons of gear, and we're just finishing off our studio) We're also going to do stuff just as a trio I guess (live and studio), where we would get writing credits and whatever else might happen. He also wants us to do some tracks for movies and or t.v. (He had a song on that lame show called "Hawaii" that got cancelled in like 2 weeks - he was pissed, haha) But does any of this sound right? I/we basically don't want to get screwed on the collaboration stuff and or ripped off of our original material. As you can tell I don't know anything about this - can anybody shed some light on this? I'm thinking some sort of legal agreement might be in order? Are there some good texts about this stuff I need to read? We're stoked for this new opportunity but are going in very cautiously.
     
  2. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    “Are there some good texts about this stuff I need to read?”

    The standard in the music industry, the one I use in the music industry contracts class I teach at a local law school, and the one many music lawyers keep within close reach at their desk is Don Passman’s “All You Need To Know About The Music Business.” The other book I highly recommend is “Music, Money, and Success” by Todd and Jeff Brabec.

    Best,
    MA
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Legal agreements are fine, so long as you know exactly what's in them. If you don't, don't sign anything without getting someone knowledgeable to review it. The one thing to know about music law is that it's been designed to totally screw musicians.

    Some questions: if you're not going to get writing credit for being in the singer's band, what are you earning points/royalties on? Just the recordings? In most situations, royalties from recordings won't amount to much (actually, they're usually zero), as such royalties are recouped against the cost of making the recording, including studio rental, equipment purchases and producers fees. If this band is really a collection of mercs rather than a collaborative songwriting enterprise, you may be better off negotiating a flat fee for your services and leaving the alleged "royalties" on the table.

    Dirty secret: most of the money in the industry is actually made from writing, publishing and licensing songs, not recording them. Don't get cut out of a writing credit if you feel you deserve it - sometimes a bassline makes the song.
     
  4. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    thanks for the info guys - I'll have to check out that book.
     
  5. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    Christopher:

    I’d be curious as to how you define “music law” and any specific examples of where “it's been designed to totally screw musicians.”

    MA
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Well, that was perhaps too strong. By "music law" I mean contract and copyright law as it has been traditionally practiced (or perpetrated) by major labels against artists who lack the business savvy or other resources to protect their best interests. See, e.g., In re Prince and Warner Brothers.

    I recognize that the legal landscape is changing and that musicians are more cognizant of their rights than they once were. However, the contract and copyright regime that still dominates the music industry remains unfriendly -- if not downright hostile -- to the parties who actually make and consume music. That's a rant for another thread, though.