To say that Vanilla Ice’s pop-rap crossover hit, “Ice, Ice Baby” is a rip off of British rock royalty, Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” is an understatement, especially that the so-called artist made light of the (very) telling similarities in its notes and overall arrangement. You can also check out contract templates.
With the threat of a copyright infringement suit, the matter was settled out of court, earned Ice the public scorn he was asking for, songwriting credits to the original artists and suffice to say, a collaboration both Queen and Bowie really had no intention in joining, regardless of getting what was due them in the end.
Your work may be far from being Bohemian Rhapsody-worthy, but there are documents you need to secure when agreeing to write, record, produce and perform a song to avoid lengthy, costly and personally-damaging disputes in the industry and the most important is a contract with these elements:
1. Expenses: Bands often sign management deals and as a result, are obligated to work within a set budget for advertising, merchandise, and promotions. It is therefore important to know and establish which party is responsible for covering expenses which would typically include but aren’t limited to travel expenses, studio time, food and lodging during music or concert tours, and sometimes, even the band’s wardrobe.
2. Royalties: The music industry relies on royalties from the licensing of copyrighted songs and recordings as the main form of payment for musicians. Although royalty rates can vary based upon an artist’s popularity and past success, there’s still a general ballpark figure for royalty that every artist should be aware of. Most of the time, up-and-coming artists gain between 10 and 14 percent royalty rates while seasoned professionals can get as much as 18 percent. Don’t let a record label talk you into a one or two percent royalty rate.
3. Value: Offering a license with real value helps a band since it would serve as recognition that the work is worth something and that the company is respecting it since they want to seal the deal. When offering a license, no matter how small or big the artist you view to be, value of work needs to be respected. Unless an artist or rights-owner see that in an agreement, then there’s a big chance they will politely say no.
4. Licensing: So that musical works receive rightful compensation and credit, licensed use of copyrighted music should be included in a contract for owners to ensure the protection of their songs from any company or establishment in the entertainment industry wishing to use their music for entertainment or marketing purposes. A purchaser’s rights also have its own limitations which would be detailed on a separate agreement. This is because another business needs to understand that when it comes to music meeting licenses, there’s money at stake as much as there’s money to be had.
Copyright laws and contracts protect artist’s financial interests but the measures in place for the protection of creative interests are sometimes nowhere near enough, that music copyright and other legalities involving ownership of musical work, artist and performance continues to be a widely-contested issue. Here are some steps you can follow in making sure that your contract covers the protection you need:
1. Clarify the artist’s recording duties: If you’re a music producer or a record owner label, an artist needs to present you with songs or their work before agreeing to market him, her or them. In the same way, you should also be able to discuss the initial recording obligation. For instance, a recording company may require that the band limit their work to 3-5 songs with only the company’s master soundtracks. The contract you write should also explain how the recording costs are charged back to the artist.
2. Include a provision for exclusivity: A record producer and the company he represents wouldn’t want a band recording or performing for anybody else while under contract, which means you should include a term where the artists agree to be exclusive to your record company.
3. Maximize your chances of a record deal: Ann artist or a band cannot rely on production companies since they simply don’t have the resources or budget for launching or funding new artists as well as the means for distribution and retail partnerships necessary for promotional efforts. This is where the involvement of a record company enters the scene and your production deal serves as a platform in securing that involvement.
4. Hold back from giving up your global rights: Before committing to a year or two as set on the contract, take the time to research the production company interested in your work as a band. Do they have a good reputation in the industry? Are they big enough to handle the demands of your music and future performances? Do their fame or that of other musicians they handle, extend to other parts of the world, say North America, or do they have more following in Europe? In short, you have to make sure that you’ll be able t maximize your chances of getting a legit record deal.
Music contracts provide exclusive rights to people who own the copyright to perform and play their song. It’s basic logic that whenever you need to use something you don’t own, you ask permission to use it. Below are some tips you can use in writing a music contract:
When entering the music scene, artists and bands should develop enough awareness of the different contracts in the business. Among the most common are:
If someone plays the band’s song or music willfully without permission, or use something that’s too similar in its lyrics and arrangement, that’s considered an infringement on the copyright. The owner is allowed to recover damages ranging from $750 per violation, up to $150,000 when and if a court finds it as willful infringement, based on the copyright act.
The license protects the rights of the people involved in creating and producing the song which often includes the songwriter, composer, and publisher who owns the piece of music produced and are entitled to certain royalty rates.
Maybe inspiration is sometimes hard to come by that it’s also difficult to even for those who don’t lack creativity, depth, and skill to find the right words or melody to a song they’re already playing in their head. Maybe you want to give honor to music predecessors who inspired you. But when you don’t think twice to use the product of someone else’s talent, thinking, and hard work, that’s already stealing.
For the same reason, it is important for companies, artists and rights owners to understand how contracts work. Copyrighted materials such as songs attract interest from many parties, sometimes throughout history when it becomes widely recognized and acclaimed. Contracts in music are a good way to secure legal protection around what could also be the result of something that’s deeply-rooted, something you cannot simply put a price tag on.