Thursday, January 10, 2008

5 Essential Contract Clauses For Single Song Agreements

Always consult your attorney before signing any legal document.


In respect of regular vocal and/or instrumental copies of the Composition, WRITER shall be paid a royalty equal to ten percent (10%) of the suggested retail-selling price on each copy sold by PUBLISHER. If copies are sold for a discount of fifty percent (50%) or more from the suggested retail price, PUBLISHER shall pay WRITER a royalty equal to five percent (5%) of the suggested retail-selling price on each copy sold by PUBLISHER.

Note: Some contracts will specify an amount such as "$.09" rather than a percentage. It's important that you get a percentage due to increasing sheet music prices.

Priority : High


In the event PUBLISHER licenses the right to print and sell copies of the Composition in their original setting form, whether in single copies or for use in a songbook, collection, newspaper, magazine or similar publication, WRITER shall be paid a royalty equal to fifty percent (50%) of the net sums received by PUBLISHER pursuant to such licenses.

Note: Again, some contracts specify amounts rather than percentages. Try to insist on a percentage.

Priority : High


WRITER and PUBLISHER shall receive separate public performance payments or royalties directly from the applicable performing rights society, and neither party shall be entitled to share in a portion of such payments or royalties received by the other party nor shall either party make any claim against the other for such royalties.

Note: Some unscrupulous publishers have been trying to recoup writer advances against performance royalties. You should never agree to this.

Priority : Deal Breaker


If the copyright in the Composition is infringed, both parties shall have the right to proceed jointly, and to share the expenses and recoveries of such action equally. Should either party pursue the litigation alone, then the party shall bear the expenses of such action and after recouping the costs of the litigation (including reasonable attorney’s fees) from any recovery, that party shall divide the excess recovery equally with the other party.

Note: Some contracts require the songwriter to automatically assent to any litigation undertaken by the publisher. You should have the right to "opt out" and still benefit from any settlement of a law suit. Law suits are rare, and usually the writer and publisher are in agreement about whether to proceed with action.

Priority : Medium High


Within (one year) from the date hereof, the Composition must have been commercially recorded for either a) intended release for sale to the public on phonograph records, tapes, compact disks or other recorded products; b) synchronization in the soundtrack of a theatrical motion picture intended for exhibition to the public; c) synchronization in the soundtrack of a television program intended for broadcast to the public; or d) synchronization in the soundtrack of a home video program intended for sale to the public. If none of the foregoing recordings have occurred within said time period, all rights conveyed to Publisher hereunder shall revert to Writer upon the giving of ten (10) days written notice by Writer to Publisher.

Note: Typical reversion times vary from one to three years. You should insist on some variation of this clause whenever you sign a single song agreement.

Priority : Deal Breaker

copyright 2008 by craig bickhardt


SY said...

Thank you so much for starting this blog. The information you are sharing will be so helpful to songwriters like myself who are trying to "find their way" in this business. I do not take for granted the effort you have made here and I am hopeful that you keep it going. Your music and songs are tremendous......I look forward to learning more from you.
Stephen Young

chromehead said...

Thanks for reading and posting, Stephen. Much appreciated ! Best of luck to you with your songwriting.

Megan1 said...

Craig, This Blog is great - Thanks for making the effort