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Re: film music rights,icensing etc.(OT).

Hi Luis,

I deal with these sort of requests at least once a week, in addition  
to never ending requests from theater and dance companies. Here are a  
few things to consider...and I don't know your exact situation so  
they might not all apply...

First of all, no matter how simple a license, the time you spend  
thinking about it, emailing, negotiating, and drafting up  
documents...that is your valuable time lost. If you give your music  
to someone for free, it's like *you* are paying *them*. This might be  
hard for them to grasp, but imagine if you were to get requests like  
this almost every day then you'd be spending all your time doing  
this. Sometimes a well-organized production company  sends you a  
nicely spelled out license where all you have to do is add a few bits  
and send it back. But often, it is left to the composer or their  
representative to draft a license, and this takes time.

In my experience, very few films make it past the festival stage, or  
even into any major festivals. Even when they do, the creator of the  
underscore music is not usually feted (other than by other  
musicians!). Yes, it is great for your resume and if you want to grow  
your list of credits, but I find that directors and producers highly  
overestimate the amount of publicity a composer will get for  
contributing music. Composing the entire score is entirely different....

The budget is always tight. I've worked on some Hollywood films, and  
even they claim the budget is very tight. No one wants to pay anyone  
if they can help it but would they not pay their crew? What about  
their lawyers? Music should be, and is, budgeted for in the  
production costs, just like any other service...unless they are  
clueless amateurs (in which case you should educate them).

The equation to keep in mind is: your music in exchange for X.
X = publicity, or money, or resume building, or a combination of the  
So think about what X is for you.

There are cases where it really is worth it to give someone music for  
social, or creative, or you really love someone's movie, and in those  
situations you feel good about giving your music away. Just examine  
your motives and make sure that you're not giving someone your music  
because you are flattered, or it makes you feel validated.

A simple approach is to offer your music for a limited term festival  
synchronization and master license for a small "honorarium". The  
license allows them to use your music music in their film for 1 year  
(or sometimes 2 years). Pricewise, a label like Nonesuch might quote  
$500 per track for a 1 year festival license for a well-known artist,  
and then the publisher of the song might also quote $500...for a  
total of $1000. If you are both the publisher and the record label,  
you can be "nice" and offer a 1 year master/sync combined for say  
$400 ($200 sync + $200 master). That is my low floor. You can write  
up the contract to be automatically renewable, so they pay you every  

What comes after a festival license is more complicated...a buy out?  
Royalties per DVD? In my experience, very few films make it past the  
festival stage, although every director thinks theirs will! I've had  
it written up in the festival licenses that a second "option" will be  
exercised if the film is bought, or it goes to dvd, etc. Sometimes  
that 2nd option is spelled out in excruciating detail, and sometimes  
it is just stated that a good faith negotiation will occur.

Make sure in any license that you are designated owner of all  
copyrights and state your affilation (ASCAP, BMI, etc). Specify in  
the contract how and where you should be credited. I didn't specify  
this when I started out and was amazed at several films, who said it  
would be great "publicity", then didn't credit me at all....so no one  
knew it was me!

I work with an entertainment lawyer based in Portland named Peter  
Shaver. He is very reasonable, friendly, an all around cool dude, and  
specializes in working with bands on these issues. When I have  
something that comes up, I just write to Peter and he can vet a legal  
document or create a new one in a matter of hours.  His email is  
pvshaver  (at)  hotmail.com

Hope that helps. It's in all our interests that this stuff not be  

celloly, Zoe

On Feb 12, 2008, at 7:10 AM, L.A. Angulo wrote:

> Hi gang,
> I got t a call today from a fellow film producer in
> England that would like to use a song from one of my
> CDs as a sound track he heard in Itunes for a film
> currently being produced in Havana Cuba.
> This particular track is an old remake of mine of a
> very old tune whos publisher is registered and being
> sold at CD baby.According to him this is his first
> production and is being filmed by a cuban crew with
> him as a producer and the film is being sponsored from
> different independent sources and the budget is very
> tight,so he asked me if it would be ok to use it
> without financial ties or agreements on my part,once
> the publisher agrees for them to use it.The film also
> will be sent with high hopes to all of the film
> festivals like in europe and around the world.
> Ive never done anything like this and so i thought id
> ask this list,because he wants to send me a contract
> form for me to sign, is there anything i should be
> aware of before doing this,and are there rearrangemet
> royalties or CD percentage fees or anything like that
> even when youz are not the author of the song?or would
> it be wise to let him use it which will perhaps
> increase CD sales for us?
> thanx!
> cheers
> Luis
> www.myspace.com/luisangulocom
> ______________________________________________________________________ 
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