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a question regarding royalties- tiny film...

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Exsultavit, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    So here is an interesting item that has recently come up:

    I created a little 5 second tag (original music, my composition). It was just an edit of a guitar piece on an album I made. I created the edit for my wife, who used it in a short film she was making a few years back.

    Fast forward to now: the guy who edited that film has been using the tag in other stuff he’s been doing- opening splashes, etc. He has not been getting any money for the stuff he does- he’ s retired, making films for friends. Until now, he has not asked my permission for this, figuring he’ll ask me soon, and since there is no money changing hands for his work, he has assumed it was not important yet anyway.

    And now to the present day: He has a contract to do a short series of 8 lecture films, and he’ll get a total of 1,600 bucks for his work, which he is planning to donate to charity. He’s like to pay me something for the music now, since he is getting something. So he has contacted me.

    Is there a standard rate for this? I imagine there is, and it’s dependent on the film’s budget, perhaps the distribution of the film (big distribution= bigger royalty?). OTOH, perhaps I could suggest a straight fee?

    Your thoughts?
    []
     
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It really does vary quite a bit - depending upon usage and distribution.

    There are a few ways you could "fee" him for the project, and a few other ways to turn revenue after the project is done.

    1. Upfront/Buyout. This means that he pays you for the tag, and he now owns the rights to do whatever he wants with the music.

    2.Upfront/License. You continue to own the rights but charge him an all inclusive fee for a one-time use.

    3. No Upfront/Sync Rate: You get your money from your P.R.O. - performing rights organization (BMI, ASCAP) based upon the duration of the song, and where and when it was used. If his series gets picked up by a national network and is played prime time, you get a sync fee from the network, who pays into PRO's and then you get paid from them.

    4. Mechanicals - If the tag ends up on a DVD or Soundtrack, you get a percentage (points) based on sales of the medium ( I think it's around 9 cents a copy right now)

    Some things to consider:

    Not all networks pay the same rate. You have what is known as "The Big Four" - CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox. Then you have what are known as "netlets". These are smaller networks like WB, UPN, etc. These "netlets" pay less, because one of the things that determines the rate that they pay is number of affiliates, geographic coverage, etc., which determines their sync rate paid to PR Societies. It's also very related to the time of day - prime time pays more than mid day does.
    Cable pays the least. They have separate negotiations with PRO's, because they aren't "public" access, meaning that not everyone gets their broadcast feed as opposed to the networks which are public because you don't pay for them. This could be changing soon, as the terms of this were sealed years ago when cable was in its infancy and not nearly as many people had it as they do now. Also, a network like Showtime considers their transmission to be ONE transmission nationally, because they don't employ affiliates, where as a Network's affiliate's transmissions are considered to be separate and unique from each other, and counted as separate broadcasts.

    Bottom line: You won't make nearly as much with a five second tag as you would with a full song. If I were you, I'd charge him a one time, non buyout license fee, say $200, that way you get to keep the rights but he gets to use it for this project only. You're going to have to watch him on this. He's already proven that he's used it for other projects that it wasn't intended for.

    On your end, you are assuring him that he can use it for an agreed upon amount, within the context of this project only. You can either sign an exclusivity agreement with him for a bit more - where you assure him that you won't let anyone else use it while he is (or for a set period of time) or you can agree that he can use it but you have the freedom to let anyone else you want use it too, at which point you could charge him a bit less.

    It also wouldn't be a bad idea to join a P.R.O., if you haven't already. That way, if you get lucky and the tag ends up being used on prime time network TV, you'll get even more money. Like I mentioned before, you won't make much because it's only a 5 second piece, but hey, money is money. ;)
     
  3. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Thank you for your help!

    I have worked out an agreement with the filmmaker. He has agreed to pay me 100.00 for the use of the cue in his film and $100 as license for use in his other, non-paying videos. If he gets more paying work, we will discuss further.

    Thanks!
     
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That seems fair.

    If I were you, I'd still look at joining a P.R.O., if you haven't done so already.
    This will help when broadcast comes into play - if your friend's movie ends up being shown or played on TV or Radio and it includes your tag, you have the right to file a "cue sheet", which is a form you fill out from your P.R.O. and gives them a heads-up that your composition received broadcast time. I don't think you'd receive all that much because the piece is so short, and, it depends a lot on how, where and when it was used, but you might be owed some money, if the use of the piece fell under the right criteria.

    ASCAP, BMI, SESAC...They all essentially do the same thing, which is to track the use of your music and pay you accordingly. The last time I checked, the only difference between ASCAP and BMI was that ASCAP wanted a yearly fee, ( I think it's $50) whereas BMI is free to join, but takes their revenue on a percentage basis, based upon the amount of revenue that the composition earns.

    SESAC is limited in its membership. It's by invitation only and requires that the composer (or the publishing company) is making active revenue from compositions of a certain minimum amount.
    I don't believe that you would meet their criteria at this time.

    Below is a quick run-down between the three. Remember though, you can only join one.

    ASCAP vs BMI vs SESAC | Comparison of PROs | Songtrust

    FWIW

    -d.
     

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