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#1112611 - 08/08/16 04:32 PM Another Collab Agreement rant  
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 591
Pat Hardy Offline
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Pat Hardy  Offline
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Collaboration agreements are a bit of a touchy subject. Yeah, I know the feeling, y'all just wanna write a song,
do a handshake, and "no egos", etc etc.

Okay, how about this scenario. You're the music creator, and someone else is the lyricist. Okay, you do a demo,
and you pay for the demo, but the lyricist does not. And, you are offered a "master and sync" license for your song, like $3k.
Well, your lyricist didn't contribute to the master, didn't perform or sing, nothing, so I guess you are the owner of it, and you get the master use
fee, though you share in the sync, but are these fees separated in the fee/contract you are offered?
Oh, you hired some union musicians? Oops, music publisher wants work-for-hire agreements from all of them. ( but it was a long time ago, and you can't find them now? ). however, your handshake agreement you said you'd split everythiong 50/50, so I guess
even though they contributed nothing to the master, they do own it, 'cause you have no collab saying otherwise, eh? Well,
I don't know. ( I always get collabs signed, spelling these things out, lessoned learned years ago ).

This is one minuteua ( I never could spell that word ) of things that might happen.

Here's another thing: I spend most of my time trying to get my songs in film and TV, ( I've got a lot of publishing contracts, but no placements yet, but maybe someday....:) ) so, I submit a song
and I get a contract offered, but because I didn't have anything in my C/A that gives me total
control of negotiating, I have to run it by the lyricist, and guess what, she doesnt like the contract because her lawyer ( who is not an entertainment lawyer, just a friend ) says no ? Well,
that happened to me ( when my lawyer, who is an entertainment lawyer, said yes. Well, we all got together and worked it out, but these type of slow downs can kill a deal. Listen up, many sync deals
are "time is of the essence", they often look for songs at the last minute, and need one like yesterday, and if they are considering three different songs, the one with the least problems
is the one getting the deal ). So, from this I learned to get a POA on negotiation, since more
and more publishers don't wnat to deal with more that one person. Clearance requirements by publishers are often 100% or no deal ( and a POA from the co-writer will give it to you ).

Do your homework, get a lawyer, get a collaboration agreement tailored for your needs, and make all co-writers sign it. Have work-for-hires for all musicians whom you do not want to share royalities with. Have wording in the contract for singers whose vocal interpretations might be argued that they contributed to the melody ( if it became a hit, you're gonna see all sorts of people com out of the woodwork wanting a piece of the pie )that these variations of your melody
are not to be considered as "co-writer" but as a reasonable 'artistic interpretation' of the original, and as such, they waive all claim on the music and their vocals are "work-for-hire" or something like that. What if the lyricist, there are two, say,
one writes most of the lyric, but the other came up with the killer title and hook, do you wsnt everything split three way, or would some other arrangement be fairer? If you are the composer, it is my opinion that because you are the one who is seeking a lyricist, you are pretty much in the driver's seat. But, if the lyricist is established, has had some minor hits or more, and
you have not, maybe he is in the driver's seat, if you want him more than he wants you, it all depends. But Know you rights, and all the implications.

I'm sure there are all sorts of other little headaches not mentioned here, that will come up ( like the demo,) did you know that when you make a demo, copyright law says "copyright exists when your creation is put to physical form" well, do you want that demo to exist in a state of copyright with all it's legal empowerments to both contributers ( binding words & lyric into one joint work ) when all you are doing is testing to see if people like the lyrics? what if no one likes the lyrics and the lyric is holding the song back, but without a collab agreement stating otherwise,
that lyricist, because of "physical form" rule, he/she now owns half of the entire song ( words and music ) as do you and now you are stuck with the lyric for this melody. A collab would have prevented this.

What if the lyricist goes hog wild and starts promoting in places you don 't want it promoted to? ( like porn films? ), What are your rights, what are the "first use rights' etc, there's a ton
of stuff you aren't thinkin' about when you write a song with someone ( like who owns the master ? that's a pretty big one in my opinion, and it affects clearance issues if you are offered a sync fee contract to be placed in a film, 'cause that's where many songwriters are making money these days, not so much from sales or downloads or streams where you need megamillions sold to make a modest living ).

It's all moot if the song is no good, but if it's a gem, better think about these things, so......

Get a lawyer, please, and save yourself years of headaches. Not sayin' for you to go and alienate
your co-writers, but politely and gently bring it to their attention before committing a lot of work and effort. If you have had some success, airplay ( I've had airplay on over 100 stations ) you'll have an easier time asking for C/A to be signed, you'll be percieved as the professional, etc.
To be honest, I will not work with anyone anymore without a C/A. I've got a few really nice melodies stuck with lousy lyrics that I can't do much about, 'cause the co-writer has as much power over the songs as I do, and I do anything without their consent (on exclusives, which more and more publishers are asking for. Non-exlusives don't require consent). Well, a C/A gives me total control, and I need total control now because music directors and publishers are demanding it. I'm not a control freak, I just want to succeed, so if you explain all this to your co-writers, hopefully they won't have a conniption ( though many do, and quit, which is fine ).

by the way, the generic C/A's you'll find on the net really are not adequate, in my experience.

some of the above is real, some imagined, but I'll bet it could happen, so.........

Good luck.

Pat Hardy Lockwood

#1112613 - 08/08/16 04:41 PM Re: Another Collab Agreement rant [Re: Pat Hardy]  
Joined: Dec 2008
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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Hey Pat!

"You're the music creator, and someone else is the lyricist" - Pat

What came first, the chicken or the egg? If you composed your music guided by the lyrics, then, in essence the lyricist did contribute to the music. Bottom-line for me… once I do collaboration with a lyricist, it becomes a 50/50 venture. Unless other arrangements were made prior to the collaboration.

Best, John smile

#1112615 - 08/08/16 05:03 PM Re: Another Collab Agreement rant [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 591
Pat Hardy Offline
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Pat Hardy  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2011
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Originally Posted by John Lawrence Schick
Hey Pat!

"You're the music creator, and someone else is the lyricist" - Pat

What came first, the chicken or the egg? If you composed your music guided by the lyrics, then, in essence the lyricist did contribute to the music. Bottom-line for me… once I do collaboration with a lyricist, it becomes a 50/50 venture. Unless other arrangements were made prior to the collaboration.

Best, John smile

Much truth in that, of course. However, I (usually but not alwayas ) compose melodies first, and seek lyricists for them. My melodies are sing-songy, like a "jazz standard" or a beatles tune, and I require the lyricist to adhere lyric to prosody of the melody, etc. ( here's an example of one of my melodies, but I wrote the lyric months after the tune was composed, and I'm actually looking for a better lyric, I'm not that good:)


As such, I reserve the right to register the copyright as a derivative work ( which allows me total control of the melody. A derivative copyright is one where the music is excluded in the registration, giving the lyricist the the copyright, but his or her control is limited solely to their precise contribution. In my C/A, if I have to make an adjustment to the melody to conform to their lyric ( I'll do it if the result is better than before ), it depends on how severe the variation is, before I'll yield a music co-writing credit. I've yet to do this, so far. Though it's happened to me, and the result was actually better, but the lyricist agreed to only want credit for the lyrics, as even though the lyric reshaped the melody, it was only for a small section of the song, and it was I who composed that melody.

On the other hand, a couple of times I was sent a lyric, and I composed a melody to that lyric.
Though the bridge was recomposed and the lyric followed the melody there, the verse was completely
shaped by the lyric. On that copyright, we did a joint copyright, ( both parties equal control over words and music ). So, it all depends. There are two basic scenarios: Is the lyric added to an already existing melody? Or are both parties writing both at the same time, where both music and lyric evolves a joint work? The former would be a derivative work, the latter a joint work. The copyrights are different, and have legal consequences quite different.

Derivative or joint, I always go 50/50. John, I have a question for you:

When you are offered a license fee for placement in a TV or film, do the contracts
offer it as "master use" and "sync" as separate fees? Or are they combined? or do they
even refer to the license payment this way? How does it actaully go down? the only thing
I"ve ever achieved so far are publishing contracts, never have gotten an actual placement yet,
so I'm guessing about these things.

Last edited by pathardy; 08/08/16 05:17 PM.
#1112618 - 08/08/16 06:18 PM Re: Another Collab Agreement rant [Re: Pat Hardy]  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,877
Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,877
Brunswick, Ga. USA
Eh, Well,
You in the Music Business Pat? Of course you should get a Co-Write Agreement, up front, for each song you have a co-writer. If they want something spelled out that isn't there, spell it out if you agree to it beforehand! After that the contract is closed, unless you agree to unknown clauses they want after the agreement. A bad idea by the way. If all else fails go back to doing what you were doing before your music excersion!

Ray E. Strode
#1112621 - 08/08/16 06:31 PM Re: Another Collab Agreement rant [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
Joined: Jul 2010
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Dan Sullivan Offline
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Dan Sullivan  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 3,710
Remind me to never get involved in the music business.

Write from your heart, not what you think others want to hear.


#1112623 - 08/08/16 06:39 PM Re: Another Collab Agreement rant [Re: Dan Sullivan]  
Joined: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,413
Aaron Authier Offline
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Aaron Authier  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2006
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I wouldn't agree to paying for a $3000 demo. There is no money in songwriting unless you're a professional and you know influential people in the business.
You're just losing a ton of money. What's wrong with a 500 dollar demo? I'd go half with that if I loved the song enough.

#1112624 - 08/08/16 07:04 PM Re: Another Collab Agreement rant [Re: Aaron Authier]  
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 591
Pat Hardy Offline
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Pat Hardy  Offline
Top 500 Poster

Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 591
Originally Posted by Aaron Authier
I wouldn't agree to paying for a $3000 demo. There is no money in songwriting unless you're a professional and you know influential people in the business.
You're just losing a ton of money. What's wrong with a 500 dollar demo? I'd go half with that if I loved the song enough.

The $3k mentioned was for a typical sync license, money to be paid to songwriters, not money they are paying anyone.

My demos usually run about $250 - $300, some less, some more ( I'm using sequenced tracks a lot, to get costs down ).
But, one well-connected producer I want to hire who has connections who liked one of my songs wants $2500 for a top notch result, studio musicians, etc. he's worked with big names in the jazz world. Still,
jazz isn't that profitable, these days.

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