Join Richard Stim for an in-depth discussion in this video Recording, part of Music Law: Managing a Band's Business.
- As I mentioned in the previous video, there are two copyrights associated with music. A song copyright and a sound recording copyright. Here I'll primarily discuss the sound recording copyright. Under copyright law, anyone who makes a material creative contribution to a recording is a co-author and co-owner of the resulting sound recording copyright. Your band owns the sound recording copyright unless you have transferred or assigned the rights, for example, to a record company.
When others are involved in the recording process, your band's copyright interest in the sound recording may be effected. Here are some tips to best protect your band's rights. Recording studios. A recording studio cannot claim an ownership in your music, simply because the recording was made there. There are two exceptions. A, studio employees arrange your music or perform on your recordings. Or b, the studio records your band on spec in return for a piece of the recording.
If a studio employee makes a material contribution to your recording, you can guarantee your rights by asking the studio employee to sign a release, a simple statement in which the employee assigns all rights to your band. If a studio records your band on spec, the studio is speculating that your recording will be a success, in which case your band must repay the recording costs and more. Tread carefully. Check with an attorney if possible, as you may be giving up far more than the value of the recording services.
Producers. A producer, a professional who directs the recording and mixing sessions, is usually paid a fee and receives a percentage of the income from the recording. Producers work under three types of arrangements. Record company/producer agreement. In this arrangement, your record company hires and pays a producer and then later deducts that cost from the band's royalties. The record company usually acquires all copyright from your band and the producer. Band/producer agreement.
In this case, the band, not a record company, hires the producer, usually because it wants a suitable master to shop to a record company. The band usually retains all rights because this type of agreement typically includes an assignment from the producer to the band of all copyright. Spec agreement. In this situation, a production company or producer agrees to produce a band song or an album often on spec. That is, without an upfront payment. And in return, the production company usually helps to shop the final product and obtains various rights from the band.
If possible, protect your band's interest by having an attorney review a spec production agreement. Your band may use other musicians on the recording. To avoid having a musician later claim an ownership interest in the performance, have the musician sign a release. You will need the signed release if you sell or license the recording to a major label, or to some independents. If you are recording cover songs, you have an additional concern.
Under copyright law, when you duplicate recordings, that is, make compact discs, vinyl records, or digital downloads, you're making copies of the songs. Unless you have a license from the owners of the song and you pay what are referred to as mechanical royalties, your duplication is illegal. Many bands ignore this rule and fly low under the radar, undetected by song owners. That may work for some, but if the cover song achieves any level of popularity, the risk of being caught increases.
By law, there is a simple legal procedure for obtaining a license for this purpose, called a compulsory license, that doesn't involve direct contact with the song owner. You must pay a fee, a mechanical royalty rate of $.091 per duplicated song. For example, if you manufactured 1,000 compact discs, you would pay $91 per cover song. It's easy to acquire this mechanical license online using the services of songfile.com.
Or if you wish to avoid the hefty fees charged by Songfile, you can do it yourself by sending a notice and payment directly to the music publisher whose address you may find at bmi.com or ascap.com. By the way, you cannot use a compulsory license if your band changed the basic melody or lyrics of the song.
It starts with what it means to be the manager of a band, and what types of business structures are available for bands. Once you've decided on a business structure, you can create a band partnership agreement that covers voting rights, postbreakup scenarios, new members, and terms for resolving disputes. Richard also exposes potential sources of disputes, like ownership of the band name, songs, equipment, and recordings. He includes advice on negotiating solid band contracts and managing financial basics: taxes, income, cash flow, and bookkeeping. Finally, he'll address how to protect your work, including your copyrights, band name, and songs, and explains how to find a lawyer—and save money on attorney fees.
DISCLAIMER: This course is taught by an attorney (or other instructor) and addresses US law concepts that may not apply in all countries. Neither LinkedIn (including Lynda.com) nor the instructor represents you and they are not giving legal advice. The information conveyed through this course is akin to a college or law school course; it is not intended to give legal advice, but instead to communicate information to help viewers understand the basics of the topic presented. The views (and legal interpretations) presented in this course do not necessarily represent the views of LinkedIn or Lynda.com.
- Putting together a band partnership agreement
- Working out ownership disputes
- Limiting band liability
- Protecting your copyrights and band name
- Hiring a lawyer