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Topic: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

  1. #1

    OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    This is a question posed to any developer who has hired some kind of session musician to record for their library - eg. a drummer for a drum library, guitarist for a guitar library, you get the idea. Assume this individual has no other part in the creation of the library outside of bringing their instrument and playing everything you tell them to - there is someone else who rents the studio, sets up the recording, edits the samples, makes the sampler patches, and markets the product.

    Obviously, the individual would be compensated either a flat fee for the project or be paid an hourly rate. However, would they be offered royalties out of product sales as well? If so, how much? For the purposes of this hypothetical, assume the musician is the sole performer for the library (eg. you are releasing a guitar-only library, and all samples were played by this one person.)

    Additionally, on a slightly related note, would you typically pay any royalties to an engineer at the studio you are recording the library? eg. They select and place the mics, correct any phase problems, manage the recording process, set up and take everything down, and so forth.

    Thanks in advance!
    Zircon Studios - Original music for media, electronica, sound design, and synthesis.

  2. #2

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    My guess would be that in general no performer/engineer receives any royalties.

    There might however me some cases where a famous brand might get something - like for instance with Mr. Garritan's upcoming Steinway library.

    But generaly I would say no... But again, it's all guess work

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nigel W's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Cologne, Germany

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    Performers & enginers don't get royalties, unless they have specifically negotiated otherwise with the producer &/or copyright holder of the project- and this would be unusual.

    It makes sense that royalties are *not* paid, because players/engineers generally get paid a fee and, theoretically at least, can work on different projects every day, whereas composers may spend weeks or months creating their material and receive little or nothing until the work is actually published or performed.

    The situation for sample developers is similar: they are taking a commercial risk that their product will sell, and the musician(s) working on the project do not generally share in that risk. If a developer were to give a musician a sales percentage deal instead of a fee, that could be seen as a kind of "royalty" but actually is more a kind of business partnership for the particular project.

    There are however various agencies which collect a kind of extra performance fee from record companies, TV stations, etc, and distribute it yearly to performing musicians based on the work they have done & money earned. These are not royalties though, more a kind of "bonus" for work done. The GVL in Germany is one, for instance.



  4. #4

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    I guess it all depends on what you agree on.
    Normally, musicians in this case, are looked upon as session musicians. The do a job, and they get paid for it.
    If a musician would take bigger part in the developing, say by contributing with more then "just" the notes, the matter of royalties would come up.

    Arf, arf, arf...

  5. #5

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    Note how this question elicits perfectly reasonable and realistic responses that include words like "guess" and "usually" and "normally" . . .

    This underscores the importance of deciding what your terms are going to be, in advance . . . and then putting your terms down in writing . . . and then getting all of the participants to agree, in writing -- regardless of what your particular arrangement happens to be -- before you actually begin doing any work on the project.

    Your agreement can (usually) be presented in a simple, non-"lawyerly" document, but it is always prudent to make sure that everybody knows what s/he is to expect -- today, and tomorrow, and a year from now (when the recording or library becomes an unexpected hit) -- before they begin participating in the project.

    This way, nobody can foster unreasonable expectations regarding future payments/credit/etc., and -- as long as you stick to your own terms -- you will be able to demonstrate to the world that you are a person of your word, with whom others can doing business without fear of being cheated...

    — alanb




  6. #6

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    Most will just play for beer

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    We've done it both ways at Spectrasonics. Depends on the nature of the project and what the cost of the project is to the developer and what the contribution is of the performer/artist.

    Also depends on what is manageable and what the parties prefer. On a project like Vocal Planet/SOV, where you have over 500 singers involved....everyone was paid up front, because royalties for that many people are too complex to manage. Whereas projects like Backbeat or Bass Legends, where a few well-known artists performances and grooves are featured, we did on a royalty basis.

    What's almost never done is both...payment for a session AND royalties. We look at it as an either/or situation.


  8. #8

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    Thank you very much, everyone, for all the helpful responses.

    I absolutely understand the importance of determining this type of thing before recording even starts, and putting the deal down in writing.
    Zircon Studios - Original music for media, electronica, sound design, and synthesis.

  9. #9

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    I don't do sample libraries, but my lawyer suggested that I get ALL performers to sign a standard "Work for Hire" contract before they play or sing a note in any recording session. It's a simple one-page form.

    For someone who will be "named", that's a differenet story. I would expect that they will want (and should get) royalties.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Sample devs - royalties for performers?

    I gave most performers/engineers/owners of instruments a good share of royalties when A/ their skills were exceptional or B/ their instruments were exceptional.
    Think of it this way; a musician who performs for a high quality sampling session has been training for more than a decade to get to the level of perfection they display and his/her contribution to the final product is crucial. Likewise; if the instrument you're sampling is exceptional, the owner must have contributed to that. Royalties are a fair way to value such input.
    Best regards,
    Michiel Post

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