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Licensing published music: who should draw up the contract?

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I've agreed on a cash amount with a record label and publisher to license some music tracks for use in my game without royalties. Now we just need to agree on a contract. Who typically writes up the contract in this case? The licensee or the music owner? The owner asked that I provide some bullet points for the agreement and they would write up a contract.. obviously I would have to get a lawyer to review that contract. Does it cost more to pay a lawyer to review an existing contract for loop holes, or to write one up from scratch based on typical game sync usage? Thanks, John

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Hi John, you wrote:

>Who typically writes up the contract in this case? The licensee or the music owner?

The owner.

>The owner asked that I provide some bullet points for the agreement and they would write up a contract..

See, they already knew the answer to your first question.

> Does it cost more to pay a lawyer to review an existing contract for loop holes, or to write one up from scratch based on typical game sync usage?

The latter should be obviously more expensive. It takes less time to read than it does to write.

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Original post by Tom Sloper
Hi John, you wrote:

>Who typically writes up the contract in this case? The licensee or the music owner?

The owner.

>The owner asked that I provide some bullet points for the agreement and they would write up a contract..

See, they already knew the answer to your first question.

> Does it cost more to pay a lawyer to review an existing contract for loop holes, or to write one up from scratch based on typical game sync usage?

The latter should be obviously more expensive. It takes less time to read than it does to write.



Not always the case, Tom. If the label doesn't have experience (i.e., indy with little licensing background) with these agreements they can be pretty bad. You can't polish a turd, and trying to work from a bad contract is more time consuming than redrafting a new one.

Just make sure that whoever you get to review has experience with music licensing agreements. Look for someone with a music, film, or entertainment law background. If other attorneys who aren't familiar with entertainment contracts actually are confronted with those kinds of contracts, the typical compulsion is to mess with a lot of stuff that is typically non-negotiable by industry standards while ignoring the more important aspects (i.e., royalty rate).

Another key point to remember-- make sure you get both the master use license AND the sync license. And check out my post if you're not sure what I'm talking about.

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