Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Question of the Day - April 29, 2009


Danny Saleh asks:

Knowing that the studio will own all the music created, is a it a smart thing for a potentially major artist to license his music for an independant film?

Hartmann responds:

"Independent" film is a broad term. What it usually means is "small" budget. When this is the case the composer is in a stronger position than he would be with a major studio. There are always mitigating factors. If there is a distribution deal attached to the project it is more important. Most movies produced never get a theatrical release and a majority never even get a direct to DVD or cable deal. If you give up publishing and get no "work for hire" fee you may have given away synchronization licenses and master ownership for nothing. Be careful, these deals are like finger prints, they all look the same from a distance and they are all different up close. If the ind pendant film doesn't have a budget to pay you, or buy you out, then they probably need your music more than you need their picture. Everything is negotiable. If you want to gamble with them, I suggest you get as much cash up front as possible, certainly enough to cover the production costs. Only license them the synch rights for use in that particular film and give them no ownership in the copyrights except in relationship to their movie, or sound track album, if one is released. At worst only give up half of the publishing. Preserve the right to rerecord the songs without restriction and keep the right to use the masters in other ways. Retain the administration of the copyrights under the control of your publishing entity. This is one of those times when an experienced music attorney can be worth his weight in gold. In any negotiation, you are only as strong as your ability to say no.

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