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Help! Producer - Artist Agreement
Old 3rd February 2009
  #1
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Help! Producer - Artist Agreement

Hello.

I just found out that the artist I have been producing for 9 years is going to be offered a deal on Monday. The deal is a total buyout of the album (we keep 50% publishing and mechanical royalties after recouping the advance). The offer is somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000 up front. The album is 3 songs away from being completed and I recorded, produced and lightly mixed everything myself and the artist wrote the lyrics and performed everything in my studio.

9 years ago, when I was 18 years old, I was approached by the artist and told that she would pay me when we "struck a deal." Me being naive and new to producing I went along with it without a contract. To date I have only received a total of $100 for my services, and I have produced over 50 tracks for this artist.


My simple question is, when the deal goes through and I am asked what I will charge for my services, should I charge per track on the album, or on a total percentage of the advance? Also, how do I determine a value that is real and based on the actual work done but at the same time not considered selfish?

I am leaning towards charging a percentage and was wondering if charging 20% to 30% would be seen as fair or too low or too high.

Thanks in advance
Old 3rd February 2009
  #2
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Aisle 6's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Dude! You are in a sticky situation. I hope that your artist friend has integrity. I guess we will see.

You need to get points (percentage) or an upfront fee or a combination of both.

In these tough financial times, I would be shooting for an upfront fee. You obviously believe in the artist, otherwise you would not have put in the work for free. So I guess you are probably leaning towards the points and banking on the big time. Quite risky unless the artist is going to be a high priority artist, and even then there are no guarantees.

If you go for points, go for points on gross sales income, not net after recoupement. But you would have to sign directly with the label to get that and that sounds unlikely from what you are stating. Also, the label will not want to know you or want the baggage or hassle.
If you are signing with the artist directly, then for God's sake take an up front payment. The Artist is likely to have a fun career, but they are unlikely to EVER see any profits. Take the advance payment!

Good luck!thumbsup
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
thanks for the quick reply!

Do you have an idea what my "advance payment" should be, based upon what the total advance probably will be ($300,000+)?

In other words, would I be able to ask for, say, 30% ($90,000)??? The manager is getting 20% off top, and then from there they haven't said.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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LeMauce's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aisle 6 ➑️
Dude! You are in a sticky situation. I hope that your artist friend has integrity. I guess we will see.

You need to get points (percentage) or an upfront fee or a combination of both.

In these tough financial times, I would be shooting for an upfront fee. You obviously believe in the artist, otherwise you would not have put in the work for free. So I guess you are probably leaning towards the points and banking on the big time. Quite risky unless the artist is going to be a high priority artist, and even then there are no guarantees.

If you go for points, go for points on gross sales income, not net after recoupement. But you would have to sign directly with the label to get that and that sounds unlikely from what you are stating. Also, the label will not want to know you or want the baggage or hassle.
If you are signing with the artist directly, then for God's sake take an up front payment. The Artist is likely to have a fun career, but they are unlikely to EVER see any profits. Take the advance payment!

Good luck!thumbsup
+1... Every recording down in my studio, I let sign the artist the payment / copyrights paper after every session.
For the rest. Fight for youre rights. And talk nice to the artist, figure out some way out. The really only buffer you have is that the artist is saying NONO to the big label.... And that my friend, is a hard situation. Be there done that. 35.000euro true my *ss for a "Europe car commerciale".
Fix your papers with "signed" autographes and producer name's.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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engmix's Avatar
1. Get a lawyer.

2. Write down on paper, how many hours, days, months, years, you and your studio put into this project. (this may be the only thing you might get paid for!) The producer is normally not entitled to the artist advance. That's only the case if she is signed to your production company and you are acting as the label in her behalf. Or you have, in writing, or a handshake agreement you can prove, that you are to get paid from the advance. Producers are paid the same way a construction worker gets paid. For his or her services, buy the company or person buying your skill and services.

3. Make sure you have your writers and publishing splits sorted out RIGHT NOW, on paper, with both of your signatures, with a witness if you can. If this project blows up, this is your cash cow.

4. Forget about wheeling and dealing about nickity details regarding getting paid with the artist. Such as, after taxes, on the gross...bla bla bla. If the label decides they want to acknowledge you as the producer, then they will work out the business. Your business is with them.

5. Since you don't have any paper work, you are in a dicey situation. If the artist decides she suddenly has amnesia about your working together, then there is little you can do. Do you have the masters? The record labels money is going toward owning those recordings, that you safely held onto, and they only have the MP3 versions....right? If you have the masters, then you have a leg to stand on. If you don't, then I hope you have a good relationship with your artist. If she does right by you, then all will be fine.

If you can get on paper, the artist saying, I will pay you 90k under any circumstance.....by all means go for it. I highly doubt you will see that money in the end, when her lawyer gets wind of the situation.

Hope I'm not being a buzz kill. Just get your shyte in order, and you might make it to the other side with some cash in your pocket. Also, get the Producer / Co Writer credit if you can. That can be the most valuable thing if the record takes off.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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Aisle 6's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zacheus83 ➑️
thanks for the quick reply!

Do you have an idea what my "advance payment" should be, based upon what the total advance probably will be ($300,000+)?

In other words, would I be able to ask for, say, 30% ($90,000)??? The manager is getting 20% off top, and then from there they haven't said.
You cannot think about what the artist is getting paid unless you go for points. But for an upfront, you need to value your work. You and the artist need to discuss the value of your work, and this my friend is where views may differ slightly. Sit down with them and discuss an outcome immediately. Do not wait a moment longer. Come to some sort of agreement and get it down in a basic grammatically correct form and sign and date it together.

May the force be with you my young producer......
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
LOL! apparently, I was under the wrong impression that I would be paid for the actual recordings (as in, I could charge $50 or even $5000 per composition). I understand I will be paid for the studio time. I am more so referring to the price paid by an artist to the producer for the musical composition.

I DO have all of the masters and I haven't delivered anything to the artist or label. The label has heard the songs through the artists manager who has a CD with 5 or 6 mp3's on it. I figured if things got really ugly, I could threaten not to release anything until I was offered something I was comfortable with.

I have a session with the artist tomorrow, and I plan to get something in writing if we can come to an agreement. I just wanted a better idea of what I have a right to ask for.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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engmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zacheus83 ➑️
I am more so referring to the price paid by an artist to the producer for the musical composition.
Pre record deal, that's a different story. I'm sure you can find a reasonable price to get paid for your hard work. Charge as much as you can that would be considered fair in your mind.

Once a record label becomes involved, the terms of the work arrangement change. The artist is no longer who pays you, it's the label. It could be as little as 5k to as much as your star power gets you.

Honestly, you should have someone else negotiate in your behalf. You will never get as much as you deserve asking yourself. I always make more money when someone else reps me on a gig.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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The MPCist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hmm... If you've been working with the artist for the past 9 years, that means you've got a pretty good friendship of some sorts going on so I'd say talk it over first before bringing in lawyers,etc.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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Barish's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Yes, try sorting it amicably first and then offer to go to the lawyer together to iron the legalities out based on your principal agreement.

B.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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six_wax's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Here's my take on it. (Please correct me, Legal Slutz, if I'm way off.)

Assuming the label wants the record you made (that exists in your studio and nowhere else since you didn't give out any masters), you may actually have some leverage. Since you are the producer, and have not been paid for your time/resources/input, you technically still own the masters. (Am I reading this right, gentlemen?)

If the label doesn't care about those tracks, and wants her to record a new album, you're probably hosed, since you have no production contract saying she is beholden to you in any way.

What does this mean? Don't ask for more money than it would cost to rerecord the 12 best tracks, 'cause some lawyer will probably do the math.

If you have a good relationship with the artist, definitely start with a friendly conversation & see if she does the right thing.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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Aisle 6's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Definitely. He who pays for the masters (ie. you) owns the masters.
Simple.

I assume you are also asking about copyright in the compositions themselves. That is the second part of the story that needs to be negotiated separately.

Negotiate;
1. The ownership of the masters (ie. Professional recording time)
2. The ownership of the copyrights. This is the tricky part and will obviously depend on how you both see your contribution.

Sort the copyright out before the masters, because the masters are your bargaining chip.
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aisle 6 ➑️
Definitely. He who pays for the masters (ie. you) owns the masters.
Simple.

I assume you are also asking about copyright in the compositions themselves. That is the second part of the story that needs to be negotiated separately.

Negotiate;
1. The ownership of the masters (ie. Professional recording time)
2. The ownership of the copyrights. This is the tricky part and will obviously depend on how you both see your contribution.

Sort the copyright out before the masters, because the masters are your bargaining chip.
Actually, we had agreed to 50/50 split of the copyright, because she "writes" the songs and I "compose the music in 99.9% of the cases. So essentially we had already agreed that we both owned equal amounts of the copyright.

We had our session today and didn't really get a chance to talk much about the deal. I did get her to agree to have a sit down chat before we look at any paperwork and before the official offer is made. I don't "fear" her as much as I "fear" the selfishness of her manager. I am hoping I can sort things out directly with her and that we can agree on either a set fee or a percentage of the advance.

Also, I still haven't figured out whether or not the label wants the 14 songs we've already recorded, or wants to re-record a full album. I understand that if they want what we've already made then I'd be "in business."
Old 4th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Aisle 6's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I did not realize that you composed the music.
She really needs to consider you equal or risk losing her advance in a suit. I sounds like you have things in your favour. if the manager does not play ball, then you can hold the masters and release them yourself or at least threaten to. Any manager is not going to want that because he is not going to get a cut on it.
Best of luck.
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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Jules's Avatar
Dont let go of the masters! (for any excuse like 'platinum selling producer is in town for one week tomorrow and we can get him to mix it all, we can do the contracts later don't hold this project back' - yadda yadda (TOTAL BS).

Also back up the masters carefully and keep that back copy up at a different location (in case of fire / flood / robbery etc) Just be a tad security conscious of those masters now.. ie - They should not be accessible by any visitor to your studio if you were to leave the room on a break for example.

Best of luck - very exciting! Let us know how you get on
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules ➑️
Dont let go of the masters! (for any excuse like 'platinum selling producer is in town for one week tomorrow and we can get him to mix it all, we can do the contracts later don't hold this project back' - yadda yadda (TOTAL BS).

Also back up the masters carefully and keep that back copy up at a different location (in case of fire / flood / robbery etc) Just be a tad security conscious of those masters now.. ie - They should not be accessible by any visitor to your studio if you were to leave the room on a break for example.

Best of luck - very exciting! Let us know how you get on
Thanks Jules for the post. Always nice hearing from you. I always value your opinions!

Aisle 6 - I thought I had specified in my first post that I composed all of the songs in . At any rate, this is exactly why I feel as though I DO deserve part of the advance.

My wife and I have talked for a long time and I feel like asking for 25% of whatever she gets in this or future deals where I'm involved. That way the manager can get 20%, the artist can get 25% or more, and the remaining amount can go towards promotions and other expenses that have nothing to do with me. I feel as though my value as at least 1/3 of the pie (manager/artist/producer-composer-engineer-writer).

Since i seems as though ANYTHING is possible without a contract, my goal is to get the rest of the group (artist and band members) to see it my way and cross my fingers that everything will turn out cool. I'll keep you posted.
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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sweetmojo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
All these posts are good advice. The best advice I could give you, having been in the industry for a long time, is when it gets close to the actual deal get a lawyer to rep you. You'll have peace of mind and they will know you're playing ball.

Last edited by sweetmojo; 5th February 2009 at 12:00 PM.. Reason: Spelling!!
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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robmix's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Just because you wrote the music, doesn't necessarily mean you get a piece of the advance. Songwriters rarely get advances, except from publishing companies. Don't use that as an argument with her manager or attorney.

Focus on your work as producer/engineer, and if it gets ugly, the ownership of the masters.

Seems amicable so far. Keep it low key, and try to keep the attorney and manager away as long as possible. They WILL screw things up !!!
Old 4th March 2009 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
So....what ever happened??
Old 5th March 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix ➑️
Just because you wrote the music, doesn't necessarily mean you get a piece of the advance. Songwriters rarely get advances, except from publishing companies. Don't use that as an argument with her manager or attorney.

Focus on your work as producer/engineer, and if it gets ugly, the ownership of the masters.

Seems amicable so far. Keep it low key, and try to keep the attorney and manager away as long as possible. They WILL screw things up !!!
it seems to BE a publishing deal of sorts - saying they keep 50% of publishing and mechanicals a rip off by the way - unless this is a 360 deal).

Talk to the artist honestly - if you wrote the music (do this on a song by song basis) then you are 50% of the writing team. I can promise you that the artist will be good about this - no label on the planet will touch an artist/writer with ownership issues. So it's easy. As for the recordings - bit more difficult. as far as I can ascertain they are un paid for masters - that DOES NOT mean you own them. It means you are owed money for studio time. I would suggest that you can only realistically charge for the tracks that are being bought.

It sounds a lot like there is confusion on what sort of deal this is. You can PM me if you like - I've dealt with a lot of this. Is it a recording deal with a label? Is it a publishing deal (a **** one ) ? Is it a 360 deal ( in which case the manager is going to be bought off OR is part of the picture)?

The other way of looking at it is through a development deal. You would be on a %age of the advance and that would be it. 20% is normal. I'd go for the songpartner above anything plus a bit of money for studio time.
Old 6th March 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by brightbyrd ➑️
So....what ever happened??
I will post an update soon (don't have time at this moment)

Also, I have (or soon will) PM robmix (who has an amazing studio setup!) and narcoman to get more info about what type of deal this is.
Old 8th April 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
So what ever happened with this opportunity?
Old 9th April 2009 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
curious myself about this
Old 9th April 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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The MPCist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yeah, what happened?
Old 10th April 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Hmm...maybe it all fell apart? Did it even really exist?
Old 20th August 2009 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Guess he got his check after all and bounced bounced to Hawaii
Old 20th August 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hello. For those interested in what happened.....

The artist is in the process of signing a record deal with an independent record label that has distribution through Universal. The independent label is looking to secure a deal for the artist directly so that Universal will pay an advance on the current album.

I was invited to one meeting where the artist, myself, the manager and other members of her staff were present. We spoke about the publishing and the album credits. When I spoke up about getting 50% (as composer) for the publishing side, and a part of the advance, everyone agreed that they really didn't know how it should break down and that they would do more research. I guess I wasn't the only one with questions.

So..... I still haven't figured out what the breakdown would be if I were getting an advance (to record, produce, compose the rest of the project) vs. if the artist were getting bought out (for the existing music I created). The publishing I understand is a 50/50 split because her and I created all of the compositions together.

I apologize to those who were waiting with baited breathe for my response... I migrated email accounts and didn't realize I hadn't updated my GS subscriptions!

Last edited by zacheus83; 20th August 2009 at 06:25 AM.. Reason: spelling
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #28
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mikethedrummer's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
so, are you getting an ssl or an api board?
or should i say will you be getting a lambo or a ferrari =p
Old 29th October 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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zacheus83's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikethedrummer ➑️
so, are you getting an ssl or an api board?
or should i say will you be getting a lambo or a ferrari =p
Lamborghini Murcielago for sure, SSL all the way!
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