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Re: film music rights,icensing etc.(OT).
I was all prepared to write back a lengthy reply to Luis's queeries about
providing music for a film
without financial compensation and then read your wonderful and spot on
analysis of the situation.
This is so succinctly and articulately laid out that I"m going to save it
and show it to students of mine
when the same subject comes up for them (with your permission, of course).
I only wanted to add one thing about this whole subject. Luis
When someone makes a professional film or puts on a artistic dance concert
or tour, there hope
is that they will , ultimately, be successful, i.e., that they will make
money from it eventually and
hopefully, that it will be such a success that they'll make a lot of money
Anyone who is ethical about asking another artist to use their work in the
capacity of helping their
own artistic project should always include a clause in a contract (even
initially, no money changes
hands at all) that says, if the project is
successful......................what compensation will be
made to the artist (you) whose work they have used , precisely because
want their project to
be better recieved.
If the filmaker, in such a case, is reluctant to name a financial figure,
then standard practise is that you should agree to
some kind of percentage point system as compensation if something becomes
successful. Because filmakers will
then need to negotiate their own new deals with distritutors and ,
new publishers or film studios, they have to
deal with what kind of compensation they need to negotiate later on down
road if the big boys and girls step in
to take the project to the masses in a big way. Consequently, it's on
them to figure out what kinds of points
Basically, someone in this situation is asking you to forgo payment for
your hard earned piece of music
because there own resources are limited. What is de riguer in such a
situation, then, is that since they
are asking you to sacrifice your artistry in the present time for no
compensation that they will reward
you more highly later for taking that risk if the project is successful.
This is standard practise in most businesses and is very fair.
So the fact of the matter is, you should ask yourself, what kind of
compensation would you need in order not to feel taken advantage of
1) the film disappears without a trace after release
2) the film has a huge buzz about it (insuring that the filmaker will
more films in the future and have more
chances to be successful financially, themselves) but makes very little
actual money (this happens a lot more than actual financial success
3) the film is a runaway success (Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, et.
al.) and makes shitloads of money
Communicate this clearly to the film producers and figure out what's fair.
Remember, they'll make whatever money they
make if it's some kind of success (either with buzz and no moolah, or
buzz and loads of moolah)
and, all of this being said and done:
it sometimes is good just to be able to say to ANY filmaker, "Yes, I
placed a song in such and such a film , no matter how successful or
unsuccessful the film was." just because it speaks to your knowledge,
experience and credibility in getting more work.
Right now, Zoe is in the position to be fending off lots of these offers
(most of which have no potential to earn income) but you
may not be where her career is right now yourself.
In other words, it doesn't matter if you get no compensation as long as
you are happy with the result and it helps you in some
way (even sometimes, just helping your own ego that someone wants your
I contributed a track to the documentary film/DVD of the life of Robert
Anton Wilson and did it completely gratis with no future stipulations but
fine with it and, actually , having seen the career of two or three
whose careers I always admired become mired in the very intense and all
of major motion picture scoring to the detriment of their own individual
artistry, I was pretty clear that I didn't want to go there in my career.
but, that being said, it has actually helped me get more work (and, maybe
just as importantly, more cred with people I may work with in the future)
and just for
a bit of buzz it was worth it to me.................it was also premade
music so I didn't have to take extra time to write , record and produce
To me, what the music business, the film business and the book publishing
business tend to lack these days is a strong
morally ethical basis for doing business. It's endemic in all three of
these artistically oriented businesses.
It's assumed, cynically, that there are so many artists jumping through
for their 15 minutes of time in the spotlight that people can be taken
advantage of without anyone protesting.
To me, personally, anyone who is not willing to share their wealth and
for a collaborative project just isn't worth doing business
and yet, in a heartbeat, I"d probably score the next Paul Thomas Anderson
film for free, myself (especially after that odd and inappropriate score
that graces his last film......................... of course, Paul
approached me about that yet...........<rue smile>
He hasn't called yet, of course.