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Contract for a Composer: Who prepares it?

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When a composer and a developer are ready to sign a contract, who typically provides the contract? As a composer, should I have a lawyer draft some templates, or do developers/publishers present these to the composer to review and sign?

 

Thanks!

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Yes, you should have a business lawyer. The cost of most business law services is usually pretty inexpensive, $150-$200 per hour or so. Far cheaper to work things out up front than trying to sort problems out when things go bad.

 

In theory the agreement is worked out equally between all parties. In practice either the largest organization forces a contract on the smaller organizations, or the lawyers between the groups hammer out the details.

 

Typically the group providing the contract also has the most favorable terms embedded in it.

 

 

Also, typically the larger organization has their own "standard contracts" that they prefer to be signed. Sometimes they treat them as their only available contract, along the lines of 'I'm sorry, but it is a standard form, it is the only thing I'm allowed to offer you", other times it is negotiable. In practice everything is negotiable, where the leverage of one party depends on how badly the other party wants it.

 

 

If you are the composer (considering your user name, Echo Music) then it is in your best interest to develop your own contracts. If/when a larger organization comes to you with their standard forms (favoring them), you can counter with your own standard forms (favoring you). When forms collide your business lawyer and their business lawyer will talk it over and come up with something in the middle.

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Thank you for your response. Having a lawyer involved for both parties for the signing of every single contract seems like it would add up very quickly in cost for everyone involved. I could see this being normative for large scale projects with big publishers- what about small scale projects? I'd imagine that composers would make very little money if they had to spend $200+ in legal fees for every 1-2 minutes worth of music that they license for use in something like a small iPhone app.

 

Thanks again for chiming in.

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That's a big change in your story.  You went from:

 

 

As a composer, should I have a lawyer draft some templates, or do developers/publishers present these to the composer to review and sign?

 

which implies working as a composer on a project for for weeks, perhaps months, likely for a five digit contract.

 

Then you went to this:

 

1-2 minutes worth of music that they license for use in something like a small iPhone app.

 

 

That seems more like stock music, where it only becomes cost effective when you generate many different clips and they are resold many times.  Just like stock photos and stock game models, they are relatively inexpensive compared to custom work but come with take-it-or-leave-it terms with zero support.  

 

(Even so, professional stock photography from sources like Getty starts in the $300 range for a single image for even the smallest uses. Uses for advertising, uses where it will see large audiences, a single photo can quickly reach a $10,000+ license fee. )

 

In that new scenario you are not negotiating with every client. You develop your own standard form with your lawyer, and you use that one form for all the sales. 

 

 

If you are an amateur and you are only selling a single audio clip once ever, then getting a lawyer to review the contract is relatively expensive. In that case they will probably provide you with a contract and you will review the terms on your own. 

 

But if you are a professional -- either having already established yourself as a composer or becoming a contractor -- you will need to invest in some lawyer time to build your own standard contracts. When you are about to engage in a new contract job that requires negotiation you will need to ensure your value include the costs of a lawyer.

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You can have a standard contact written up that can be easily modified for most projects. However most of the time, the company that is hiring you and/or subcontracting you will provide you with the contract.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to provide a thorough response, frob.

That answers most of my questions (for now at least smile.png ).

 

@CCH- Thanks for your input as well. I suppose the decision to involve a lawyer or not (to review/negotiate) depends on the size and scope of the contract?

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@CCH- Thanks for your input as well. I suppose the decision to involve a lawyer or not (to review/negotiate) depends on the size and scope of the contract?

 

Absolutely, if you're doing a week-long project for $1,000 the stakes are pretty low and you may as well just use a standard form. If you're looking at a months long contract worth $30,000 then yeah get a lawyer to look over the paperwork.

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