Monday, October 25, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips - "Foreign Licensing Deal" (Part 2)

Money. The company will make payments to the artist in the form of royalties and advances. The royalty will usually be a percentage of the suggested retail list price in the licensed territory on records sold, or, if there is no such list price, the equivalent in that territory. Sometimes, the royalty will simply be a certain number of the company's country's currency for each CD sold (e.g., three German marks for each copy sold). The artist could request that royalties be paid in U.S. dollars. The artist should also expect an advance against royalties (i.e., recoupable). Here, unlike domestic recording agreements, the company generally will absorb the costs to manufacture and sell the CDs and not charge these costs back to the artist.

Guaranteed Release. The artist should insist that the company commence manufacturing and selling the CD (and online) within a few months after the deal is signed, or else the rights granted will terminate and revert back to the artist. Logically, the company wants to release the CD because it bears all the costs of manufacturing and selling; each record sold results in a payment to the company.

Payments. Royalty payments are generally due to the artist semiannually within 30-90 days following June and December of each year. Such payment will be accompanied by a statement setting forth the amount of records sold, if any, and the royalty computation.

Copyright. The copyright to the master(s) remains with the artist. The artist is only granting to the company the right to make reproductions of the master. The artist should make sure that the company puts the proper "notice of copyright" on the CDs manufactured (i.e., © [name of artist]).

Termination. Once the term ends, the company is usually allowed a sell-off period of six months for the CDs already manufactured (with royalties still payable).

Ben McLane Esq

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips - "Foreign Licensing Deal" (Part 1)

Foreign licensing deals are becoming quite common today as the appetite for American acts grows internationally. Further, they are an excellent avenue for an artist to sell product worldwide without having an actual record contract. Although such an agreement is similar to a domestic recording contract, the essence of the foreign licensing deal is that the artist is licensing the master to a foreign company ("company") to manufacture and distribute the music. This article will briefly discuss some of the main deal points which are incorporated into a foreign licensing agreement.

Territory. The territory is defined to be only specific continents or countries. It is important that the territory not be stated as being for the "entire world". It is best to limit the territory to the areas that the artist feels the company can sell music. The licensed territory should be spelled out (e.g., UK, Japan, etc.)

Product. The licensed music should be defined by title(s) so that the company does not infer that it is being granted the right to release the artist's entire catalogue.

Rights. The artist will normally grant to the company the right to (1) manufacture and sell the music in CD and digital form; (2) use of the name and likeness of the artist in connection with advertising and sales; and (3) the right to publicly perform and broadcast.

[part 2 next week]

Ben McLane Esq

Monday, October 11, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips - "Flow Through" (Part 2)

There are various ways to handle this inconsistency so that the playing field is level. First, and most popular, is what is known as the "flow through" provision. This means that no matter what the agreement between the artist and production company, the artist will receive the benefit of any more favorable royalty computation in the production company's contract with the record company.

Second, the production company and artist agree that the artist's royalties will be a set percentage of what the production company receives from its agreement with the record company. For example, 50% of the money received by the production company from the record company will belong to the artist.

Third, and least definite, is for the artist to attempt to negotiate the highest royalty percentage it can get from the production company.

The "flow through" model can be applied to other main provisions of the artist's contract with the production company (e.g. term). The key is to make sure that the provisions offered by the production company will match the provisions the production company receives from the record company.

Ben McLane Esq

Monday, October 4, 2010

Music Business/Law Tips - "Flow Through" (Part 1)

In the music industry today, producers and production companies are signing a large number of artists to production deals, which are essentially record contracts. Then, the production company will enter into a recording agreement with a record company in order to obtain distribution and marketing for the production company's releases. Hence, the artist is actually released by a label with which it has no direct contact or contract. This situation presents a unique problem both to the artist and the production company with respect to royalty computations in particular. I will explain.

The artist fears that the production company will receive a higher royalty percentage from the record company than the artist receives from the production company. Oppositely, the production company fears that it has given the artist a higher royalty percentage than it will receive from the record company. For example, the artist's agreement with the production company reduces royalties paid on foreign sales by 50%. Yet, the production company's contract with the record company only provides for a 25% reduction in royalties on foreign sales. In this instance, the production company potentially gets a windfall because it gets seventy five cents on the dollar, while the artist only gets fifty cents. In another example, the artist's agreement with the production company caps free goods at 20%. Yet, the production company's contract with the record company limits free goods at 30%. Here, the artist receives the windfall because the production company must potentially pay the artist on the basis of one extra record for every ten records sold.

[part 2 next week]

Ben McLane Esq