Skip to main content

Topic Tags

Hello everyone. I've ventured into live recordings for a music television station, and we've never gotten around to doing a contract. They simply call me up, say "we need quality sound for a live shoot" and I show up, record the show multi-track, take it to the studio and mix it. I give them a L/R aiff file that they put over the video. No problems.

...until last night. The band that we recorded was very excited about having this video done. In fact, they hired an engineer from a studio they worked at to mix their audio for DVD. The engineer approached me, with a hard drive in hand, wanting a copy of the masters that I just recorded. I graciously told him no, he then went to the TV station, they really don't care, as long as it gets done. I'm very against him having the masters, but do I have the right to hold them?

I need to draw up for find a good contract, when doing this, I'd like to outline that the masters are my property, not the TV stations, and not the artists. Is this the way it should work?

Ryan :roll:


Croakus Sat, 12/02/2006 - 07:52

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm reading a book on Copyright law written by one.

This sounds like a work for hire to me. You were paid to create an audio recording by the TV station. Since you don't have a contract stating otherwise, all material resulting from that work legally belongs to the TV station.

RemyRAD Sat, 12/02/2006 - 12:12

Hand the hard drive over, after you have made a backup for yourself and/or for the TV station. You might even want to finish the project and present the TV station with your version of the mix and let them decide, what they want to put on air? The other fool me present them with an inappropriate mix for television and since you were already paid to provide something to the television station, so you should.

I have tracked a lot of projects where I was not to be the mix engineer. I still create a stereo reference mix for the TV folks to be used as a reference during their editing sessions and for monitoring purposes. I may also choose to keep an archival copy for my own purposes/memories. Some of which have been used by the production companies that were going to take the remix by their engineer for the television release but deemed my reference mix to be more than adequate for their video release! And so in one particular case, I was nominated for "Best Engineered Live Album" on the Soul Train Music awards program for Yolanda Adams, Live in Washington DC. I wasn't even formally informed about my nomination but rather found out about it accidentally, when I came home from work at NBC-TV, turning on the television as I walked into the kitchen, while hearing the announcer announce it at that exact moment and I thought somebody had broken into my house for some kind of joke?!?! I just happen to turn on the television set to the exact channel at the exact time. That's almost like winning the lottery but missing by 1 number! I was very honored and excited!

So keep doing what you're doing the way you are doing it but remember, you don't own it.
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Sat, 12/02/2006 - 21:25

Thanks everyone

Hate to let 'em go, I'm rather proud of them! Any recommendations where I might find a good contract that fits the spectrum of what I'm doing. Obviously going to a lawyer is something that would benefit me right now, but if there was something in the mean time, that would be better.


mark_van_j Sun, 12/03/2006 - 01:33

I had the same discussion with a lawyer recently. Engineers tend not to have contracts regarding any ownership. The reason being, if you are payed to do a job, the person who payed you, owns the product. Say you hire a construction company. You pay them to build your house. If at any point you want to renovate, or sell the house, the builders have nothing to do with it! That's called "work for hire".

The only contract you can have, is one that stipulates method, date and amount of payment. (I also try to sneak in crediting clauses... where I must be credited wherever possible for the work... but you can't always get away with that) Fact is, you were payed to record, and that's what you did. The TV owns the recordings and it's up to them to decide if they want to hand over the masters.

I understand you are proud of your work, but you can always show the recordings. (just like a builder might take a picture of your house and put it in his catalogue... but even for that, he must have your permission)

Also, do your BEST to stay on good terms with the mixing engineer. Apologise, say you didn't know if you were "allowed" to... do some ass kissing... why? That way, when you ask the mixing engineer if you can get credited on the DVD for recording the show, he might actually try to make sure you are... :)

anonymous Sun, 12/03/2006 - 07:57

First of all, it ALL depends on the wording of the CONTRACT.

EVen if you are paid for a job it is NOT necessarily a "job for hire" or, to put it another way, the question of owndership and points is NOT cut and dry. That is why I always say, and will always continue to say, GET IT IN WRITING.

In your case, you have been asked to give a copy of the TRACKS. And you have to give it to them. Pride has NOTHING to do with this: you were paid to record the band and, apparently, have no contract to support your contention of OWNERSHIP. Thus, you have no choice.

BTW, the job of a recording engineer is to "let go" of his work :)

anonymous Mon, 12/04/2006 - 13:17

Yes get use to saying goodbye to the project, and having someone else mess with it. My question is did you get paid to do the live recording? If so then they are not your masters, they belong to the people who paid you. It is a simple work for hire, you can try getting a lawyer but you will spend all the money you made doing this recording just so this engineer cant get your masters and the TV station sues you over failure to deliver on payment. It's not worth it. Just tell the man you were sorry, you were under the impression that you would mix them. But in this business it is in the clients best intrest to record and let someone else mix the album, it is also in the clients best intrest for you to fork over the recordings, if it is not in writting assume the worse, that way if it changes it is always better, get it in writting, or get proof of a verbel agreement was made. It sucks but that is the way we roll.