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Topic: How to protect your music?

  1. #1

    How to protect your music?

    I did a search on this and had some trouble discerning what was good advice and what was bad so here I am...

    I got a film scoring gig for a movie that the director and producer want to push out onto the film festival circuit. Obviously, I'm not getting paid but I still want to cover my ~~~ as far as royalties are concerned. I guess the other thing to ask for is to make sure I get my name in the credits on it's own.

    Any advice?

  2. #2

    Re: How to protect your music?

    If you have to ask to get your name on the credits for your hard work, then you should not let them use your work in the first place!

  3. #3

    Re: How to protect your music?

    In situations like this I draft up a contract which states some form of the following...

    "I herby grant (name of film) sync rights to my music for non-profit screenings only. All other rights remain the property of (your name)."

    What this means is that you grant them permission to use your music ONLY in conjunction with the film (i.e. they cannot make a soundtrack album or use the music in any additional way without your permission), and may only use your music in NON-PROFIT screenings (film festivals, etc). If by some great luck they are paid for the movie, according to your contract they must re-negotiate the rights to the music, which means you can negotiate a small piece of the pie. Of course they could also just hire someone else to redo the score. FYI, all student films I've ever done have NEVER turned a profit, at least that I know.

    I personally also include in my contracts what credits I expect in the film (e.g. main title card and/or crawl) and other promotional materials (posters, website, etc) what rights the producers have to my music (e.g. for promotional purposes, etc), how I expect the work copy of the film delivered, the rights to use their film for my demo reel, etc.

    Try doing a search for "film score contracts" and adapt one to fit your needs. I personally adapted the one from thescl.com and added to it. You could also look up library music contracts, as they are in a similar situation.

    Best of luck!

  4. #4

    Re: How to protect your music?

    It is worth noting that the typical agreement for a film score does not involve backend royalties for screenings. This is because there is no royalty in the US that PROs can collect on for movies displayed in theatres (etc). Counter-intuitively, if the movie is broadcast on TV, PROs (like ASCAP or BMI) will collect royalties from the broadcaster and those will trickle to you in part. Unless you sign this away, and provided you are signed with a PRO and have your songs registered with them, you should not have to worry about this kind of royalty.

    Depending on your relationship with the director you might ask for a low %, eg 1%, of all profits from the film. While this kind of agreement is usually only for superstar film composers, if you have a good relationship with the director, and there is the potential for it to earn money, it doesn't hurt to ask.
    Zircon Studios - Original music for media, electronica, sound design, and synthesis.

  5. #5

    Re: How to protect your music?

    All I'm worried about is asking for too much or for not enough.

    On one hand, I want to make sure that if the movie does well and ends up making money(which it won't) then I'm covered. On the other, I don't want to sour the relationship with the director. Based on all the horror stories I've heard about directors, he seems to be one of the good ones.

    I basically have no idea how much my work is worth(Although it must be worth something or I wouldn't be doing what I do) and how that worth translates into the business side of things.

  6. #6

    Re: How to protect your music?

    Ask the director what he is paying the actors and cameraman.

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