Monday, September 12, 2011

Music Business/Law Tips - "Songwriter Agreement" (Part 1)

Important decisions a songwriter faces concern which publisher to sign with and what type of contract to sign. Publishing deals are of two basic kinds: the single song contract (generally for one song) and the exclusive songwriter's contract (for all songs written during a period of time). Although these two deals are quite different, they have one thing in common that the writer must be aware of: copyright ownership is transferred to the publisher. Therefore, it will be a long-term deal. This being the case, the writer needs to be certain that he/she is entering into a fair contract. Some basic points that a songwriter's contract include are the following:

Reversion Clause. There should be a provision that if the publisher does not secure a commercial release within a specified time (i.e., one year), the songwriter can terminate the deal.

Work For Hire. If it is a single song deal, make sure that "employment for hire" and "exclusive writer agreement" phrases are not included. Also, there should be no options for future songs.

Changes To Song. The publisher should only be able to change the title, lyrics or music with the songwriter's consent.

Royalty. The songwriter should receive at least fifty percent (50%) of all income earned from the song(s).

Deductions. The costs of demos should be paid 100% by the publisher.

[part 2 next time]

Ben McLane Esq

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