Releasing the Masters
Our group is relatively new to the music production business and we basically work with independent artists who have little or no money. More often than not, we do a great deal of work initially based upon verbal agreements and then we get to the point where the artist (and their managers) want us to release the Masters of the work that we have done for them...often times without first fulfilling their financial obligations to our production group!
Given that it is increasing obvious that all work that we do should START with a written contract in order to avoid the problems that we seem to be encountering. my real question is if we are clear that the production work being done is NOT simply work for hire, how do we set up a contract that says that we will not be releasing the Masters to the artist (or thier representative)?
How do we know when we should release the Masters? What is the typical Producer/Artist agreement that would allow both parties to be fairly represented in the ultimate outcome of the work should the work be a commerical success?
Is there a website or other source that I could find out more information about these topics? Would it be prudent to hire an attorney to get answers to these types of questions in order to avoid legal problems in the future?
Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated!
We contacted a lawyer to draw up our contract for mastering. He did a very nice job on it and it is about 4 pages long.
I guess you could try and do it yourself or find something you could customize on the web.
Master tapes and or CDs are normally released on payment of all fees unless previous arrangements have been made in advance and agreed to by both parties. If you are working with someone you trust or have a contractual arrangement with you can decide how loose the arrangement will be. Most times when I have been a nice person and let someone take masters without paying I have gotten screwed. Just some friendly words of advice.
>>if we are clear that the production work being done is NOT simply work for hire, how do we set up a contract that says that we will not be releasing the Masters to the artist (or thier representative)?
If the work is NOT done for hire then, there will be clauses/sections/paragraphs which will address in detail the nature of ownership(s), percentages, etc...
>>How do we know when we should release the Masters?
IT all depends on the contract and the nature of your work done.
>>What is the typical Producer/Artist agreement that would allow both parties to be fairly represented in the ultimate outcome of the work should the work be a commerical success?
There is no typical agreement per se.
There are many levels of "productions" services. Are you going to develop the artist as well? Do you expect exclusivity with the artists you work with? Do you pay them advances? Some states have specific laws governing the nature of work done by an artist in a recording contract. If an artist has an exclusive contract and can ONLY record with you, and you own the masters and their exploitation rights (aside from the precise verbage in the contract) the state in which you reside may in fact REQUIRE that you pay them a MINIMUM for their work, etc...
You can do a contract as simple as: we record you a CD (10 songs or whatever) for free and we get this much when the record sells.
Or you can get percentages of sales and/or of the advance if you are working with an artist to secure them a contract with a major/indie label.
What about publishing? Do you write with/for them? Who owns publishing? Etc...
There are MANY different production contracts. A 'real' production contract basically stipulates that the artist is tied to you for a certain number of recordings/years. In addition, you will produce a DEMO and you will shop such DEMO at NO cost to the artist. You have exclusive recording right for the duration of the contract and you get 50% of the artist's advance. Generally speaking. It's not a simple as this but, you get the idea. Oh, and you also pay them an advance, usually.
So, when you shop with labels they will sign with YOU, not the artist (though, you may wish to sell your % interest to a publisher, etc...). But, there are many facets to this and many levels of contracts that you can do.
GET A LAWYER, if you are serious about music and YOUR services, give the whole process the respect it deserves by hiring a PROFESSIOANL ENTERT. ATTORNEY.
Thiis is not a legal forum and even if it were, you would be a fool to actually act upon ANY legal advice received here or elsewhere without CONSULTING A REAL ATTORNEY.