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Overview of a music production agreement with an artist

Posted by Steve Vondran | Feb 05, 2023

Attorney Steve® Entertainment Law - Music Producer Contracts [We offer low-cost contract review, editing, and negotiation].  Call us at (877) 276-5084. 

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As a music producer, you understand the importance of having a comprehensive agreement in place with the artist you are working with. When dealing with composition and master recordings, it is essential to include certain key terms in the agreement to protect both parties.  This blog will discuss some of the key items.

Production Contracts Essential Ingredients

Here are five of the most important key terms to include in a music producer agreement with an artist dealing with a composition and master recordings:

1. Ownership: It is important to clearly outline who owns the composition and master recordings and the copyrights. If the artist is the sole creator, they should be the owner of the composition or their publishing company. If the producer has contributed to the composition, they should be given partial ownership, and copyright co-ownership can be put in place.  The record label will usually have the sole rights to exploit the master sound recording.  You always want to make clear who owns what and in what percentages.

2. Royalties: The agreement should include CLEAR and SPECIFIC details about who will receive royalties from the use of the composition and master recordings. This should include both the artist and the producer.  Make clear what amounts will be paid and when, accounting rights, whether the royalty is off the gross or net, and how expenses and costs will be handled.

3. Licensing Rights: The agreement should also include details about who has the right to license the composition and master recordings. Do all parties need to agree?

4. Credit: The agreement should also include details about who will receive credit for the composition and master recordings. This should include both the artist and the producer and perhaps others you want to make sure get credits. 

5. Distribution Rights: The agreement should also include details about who has the right to distribute the composition and master recordings. 

6. Choice of law:  The Parties should make clear what happens if there is any dispute arising under the agreement.  Where will the case be heard (add county), and what law will apply?  Will there be mandatory arbitration?  If not, will there be an attorney fee provision where the "prevailing party" can recover their attorney fees?

7.  Indemnity provisions:  What is one party is responsible for creating a lawsuit that will include the non-guilty party?  Will you have an indemnity provision?  These can be very important.  Will the clause be mutual as to both parties?

8.  Termination provisions:  When is the contract over?  What happens once the relationship is terminated?

9.  Copyrights: Who and when will the copyrights be registered with the United States Copyright Office?

10. IP designation: Will the contract include a "work for hire" provision?  Assignment of IP rights provisions?

These are some of the key things to be thinking about.  

By including these key terms in your music producer agreement with an artist dealing with a composition and master recordings, you can protect the rights of both parties and ensure that everyone is getting the credit and royalties they deserve and limiting the potential for disputes.

Contact a Los Angeles Entertainment Law Firm

We have helped many clients with a wide variety of entertainment law matters, from fair use opinion letters to synch and mechanical licensing, entertainment law litigation, arbitration and mediation, celebrity endorsement, rights of publicity, contract review and negotiation, and more.  Call us at (877) 276-5084 or email us through our contact form.  In many cases, we can structure a low, predictable (one-time) flat rate fee depending on the size and scope of the engagement.

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337

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