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Topic: Standard Library Music Contract Terms

  1. #1

    Standard Library Music Contract Terms

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    I have received an offer from a US music library who wish to aquire one of my tracks. As this is my first such deal, I do not know if what they are offering is fair and standard. I did try a music lawyer but he has so far not replied and my deadline is next week.

    I would be grateful if anyone who is up on this sort of thing could comment on this offer which basically reads as assigning the library 100% ownership of the master recording for the work, worldwide in the present and futurehanding over full ownership forever.

    There is no mention of an upfront fee, buyout or advance. They will pay me 50% of all domestic fees and 25% of all international fees.

    I will be entitled to receive and collect the entire so-called “Writer’s share of public performance income” and the library will be entitled to the “Publisher’s share of public performance income” payable in each case, by BMI, ASCAP or any other applicable performing rights society.

    I think the contract should only be for a certain time period in case they perform badly and I want out or I want to sign elsewhere in the future.
    Is it normal to get upfront payments for this type of deal for non-commisioned library music? Are these percentages fair?

    That's mostly what I am unsure of and would welcome any advice from someone who knows about this.

    With grateful thanks.


  2. #2

    Re: Standard Library Music Contract Terms

    That is not a great deal as you describe it. You should really be keeping the writer's share AND the publisher's share and should not transfer ANYTHING.

    A good agreement would be something like you splitting the licensing fee 50/50, but you keep all the back end as you are entitled. All they are doing is helping you place the track you have written and produced. An agent of sorts. I have some tracks done this way in a library.

    Now...if a company is hiring you to write specific new tracks to add to their music library...that may be a bit different on the surface. And for this...you should definitely get something up front.

    You should also make sure that you can withdraw your tracks from their library at any time for any reason with a simple 30 days notice in writing...or something like that.
    Brian W. Ralston

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  3. #3

    Re: Standard Library Music Contract Terms

    Thanks very much Brian, I appreciate your advice.

    I did not realise that I should also retain the publisher's share. You said they are acting more like an agent. What should they be doing/offering to be eligble for the publisher's share?

  4. #4

    Re: Standard Library Music Contract Terms

    I'll chime in here. I can only speak of my experience, but this is what I'm getting from a well-known music library:

    - They own the recording(s).
    - I get 50% of writers share (for domestic AND international).
    - They get all the publishing share.

    The only thing odd about your deal might be the 25% international. I would ask for 50%. If it's a small company you can negotiate for more than the big library companies.


  5. #5

    Re: Standard Library Music Contract Terms

    Thanks Robert, that's useful to know. At least I am armed with more information now.


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