100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

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philadeaus
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100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by philadeaus » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:02 am

I was wondering how other taxi members feel about the recent postings asking for songs in nearly all genres that require that the songwriter sign an exclusive deal giving away 100% of the publishing rights and 50% of the sync fees. Do you think this is a good or even fair deal for the songwriter? Should taxi allow such deals? Please respond with your thoughts. (and please don't respond with the simpleton message "you don't have to submit to that listing", we all know that. This is more a discussion about whether or not TAXI should protect it's songwriters from being taken advantage of or allow this kind of deal to be listed at all. Your thoughts? Thanks

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by davewalton » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:25 am

Well, you don't have to submit to that listing :lol:

The publisher getting 100% of the publishing is the way it's supposed to be, just like the writer getting 100% of the writer's share is the way it's supposed to be. The writer getting a percentage of publishing (when they're doing nothing that a publisher does) would be the same as the publisher getting a percentage of the writer's share (when they're doing nothing that the writer does). Neither one of those scenarios would be fair. So there's a royalty for the publisher to compensate them for their publishing efforts and there's an identical royalty for the writer to compensate them for their songwriting efforts. We get writer's royalties, they get publishing royalties and they're both exactly the same amount. That's all fair and totally normal, like the sun rising and setting.

Splitting the sync fee is standard when there's no upfront payment for the song(s). That's very fair in that the publisher is doing a lot of work to secure the types of placements that pay sync fees. We write the song once and move on. The publisher can't do that (pitch it once and then move on). They have to do a lot of continuing work. Without them we wouldn't get those kinds of placements and without us they couldn't make those placements so that's totally fair and as normal as the sun rising and setting.

Beyond that, there are always variations on a theme. I've seen things like the library taking 75% of the sync fee but actually giving the writer 25% of their publishing royalties that would be an add-on to their writers royalties. So why would they do that? It wouldn't be hard to guess that they probably place more music into venues that pay sync fees but not much royalties (like corporate stuff). It can get very confusing and sometimes unnerving but the main thing to know what a standard and very fair deal is. That's the 50/50 down the middle, sync fees split, publisher gets publisher royalties, writer gets writer's royalties. It's that sunrise/sunset thing. ;)

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by philadeaus » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:33 am

I can tell by the title of your reply that you are just an antagonist. The publisher would have nothing without a song to publish. A standard deal is for the writer to share in 50% of the publishing, not to give it all away. A publisher has no upfront right to ay sync fees unless something is spelled out in a contract that earns that money. So respectfully, I disagree with your replay, but thanks for responding. :D

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by cassmcentee » Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:10 am

philadeaus wrote:I can tell by the title of your reply that you are just an antagonist.
A little harsh for someone helping you, I hope this was meant in jest...

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by Casey H » Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:15 am

philadeaus wrote:I can tell by the title of your reply that you are just an antagonist. The publisher would have nothing without a song to publish. A standard deal is for the writer to share in 50% of the publishing, not to give it all away. A publisher has no upfront right to ay sync fees unless something is spelled out in a contract that earns that money. So respectfully, I disagree with your replay, but thanks for responding. :D
Huh?
You asked for opinions and you got one from a very experienced and well respected composer. If you already have the answer you want to go with, then there is no reason to ask others.

Casey

PS I have no idea where you got your ideas about standard or typical deals from. Dave was 100% correct in his reply as to how things generally work.

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by coachdebra » Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:39 am

philadeaus wrote:I can tell by the title of your reply that you are just an antagonist. The publisher would have nothing without a song to publish. A standard deal is for the writer to share in 50% of the publishing, not to give it all away. A publisher has no upfront right to ay sync fees unless something is spelled out in a contract that earns that money. So respectfully, I disagree with your replay, but thanks for responding. :D
Actually, I think you are misunderstanding the math and the terminology. If you have a pie (representing royalty income from the deal) and split it in half - the half on the right is called the publisher's portion of the deal (50% of the pie). The half on the left is called the writer's portion of the deal (50% of the pie)

When you start discussing the publishing fee as 100% - that's STILL 50% OF THE PIE. It's not 100% of the pie but only 100% of the publishing fee which is 50% of the pie.

So the deal your describing is actually STANDARD. 100% of the publishing (50% of the pie) goes to the publisher, and implied is that 100% of the writer's fee goes to the writer (50% of the pie).

If/when there's a sync fee - it's split 50:50 - JUST LIKE THE ROYALTIES.

By the way - your confusion is really common and understandable. I get this question all the time, so much so, that I devoted an hour long ArtistsMBA class to clear it up with Sarah Gavigan's help.

What is unacceptable is your tone in response to the generosity of Dave's taking his time to try to clear up your confusion. :roll:

This is a public forum. And all contributions to the forum are a result of serious professionals (like Dave Walton and myself and many others) taking our time to contribute. In a business where relationships are king, meanness can have long term impact on your career. :(

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by Kolstad » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:41 pm

I think there might be some variations around the music business, maybe tv/film is a segment with one standard and other segements have slightly different standards?

This is from an article on Songwriters Guild of America (source: http://www.songwritersguild.com/publishing_deal.html ):
"In the old days, most deals were 50/50 because there was a concept that the "writer's share" was 50% and the "publisher's share" was 50%. This, of course, was an invention of the publishers. Legally, these terms have no such inherent meaning but their calculation is defined in each individual agreement. Most modern publishing deals, however, are referred to as "co-publishing" deals and the monies are usually calculated at around 75/25 meaning the writer gets 100% of the 50% writer's share and 50% of the publisher's 50% share for a total of 75%."

As I read it, he's saying that keeping the writers share for the writer and the publishers share for the publisher is how it used to be, but that has changed as a "standard". He's not talking about tv/film publishers / libraries in particular, though, which is why I think Dave's answer might not apply in general, but maybe mostly for the deals you can expect with tv/film publishers / libraries?

Either way, Taxi is not a philantrophic organization, allthough I do believe they protect members not only by screening submissions, but also by being particular with the listings from libraries, supervisors and publishers. Taxi have nothing to do with the deals and the contracts, though, so I don't know if it's fair to expect any interventions or value propositions as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Edit. I found a similar article on co-publishing deals on Taxi's own FAQ pages here written by Jeffrey & Todd Brabec http://www.taxi.com/music-business-faq/ ... ree-1.html

I don't think new writers will have much clout to get a co-publishing deal, though. I don't know, but I think you mostly find those type of deals with record labels, if you are an established artist in a solid bargaining position. I have not come across co-publishing deals myself in the tv/film libraries world, but it seems to be a little blurred how widespread they are, if you read the articles.

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by davewalton » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:20 pm

thesongcabinet wrote:This is from an article on Songwriters Guild of America...
Most modern publishing deals, however, are referred to as "co-publishing" deals and the monies are usually calculated at around 75/25 meaning the writer gets 100% of the 50% writer's share and 50% of the publisher's 50% share for a total of 75%."
Just speaking from the perspective of a film/tv composer not from the perspective of the Foo Fighters, Katy Perry or Jay-Z , that is just flat-out wrong. That is so far from reality I can't believe it was put into print if they're talking about film/tv library deals. With the exception of one or two, every single deal I have (and they're with some VERY good libraries) is 50/50. Sync fee split, they get publishing royalties, I get writer royalties. That is the standard. That's not an opinion to agree or disagree with, it's reality. And reality is "what is".

The reason is simple... the composer isn't doing any publishing work! If you've got LOTS of experience and you're doing half of the publishing work by actively bringing them new composers and/or music or actively making some of your own placements and you need administrative help then you could work some kind of deal. Or if you have a large catalog (hundreds to thousands of tracks or more) then you can make a deal with a library to act as a distributor and work out a co-publishing arrangement. Matt Hirt *might* have one or a few co-publishing deals (out of many) but he's got 15 years+ and a catalog of probably 1200 - 1500 tracks.

Anyway, sugar coating this wouldn't be doing anyone any favors. 50/50 is the standard deal, it just is. Expecting to demand all of the sync fee and half of anyone's publishing revenue as a "standard" will yield exactly 0 deals.

Sync fee split, publisher gets the publisher royalty, writer gets the writer royalty. That's the standard deal. There's no red flag and nothing to get upset over.

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by mobster85 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:31 pm

Just an FYI. Dave Walton is a standup guy who will do nothing but try to help people on this forum. He has helped me immensely with conversations and texts and is always willing to encourage. He knows and understands the business and is a very successful composer. Please treat him with the respect he deserves as he is only trying to help you and quite frankly all of us comprehend what library deals are all about. There I said my peace.

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Re: 100% publishing rights and 50% sync fees a bad deal?

Post by Kolstad » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:46 am

davewalton wrote:
thesongcabinet wrote:This is from an article on Songwriters Guild of America...
Most modern publishing deals, however, are referred to as "co-publishing" deals and the monies are usually calculated at around 75/25 meaning the writer gets 100% of the 50% writer's share and 50% of the publisher's 50% share for a total of 75%."
Just speaking from the perspective of a film/tv composer not from the perspective of the Foo Fighters, Katy Perry or Jay-Z , that is just flat-out wrong. That is so far from reality I can't believe it was put into print if they're talking about film/tv library deals. With the exception of one or two, every single deal I have (and they're with some VERY good libraries) is 50/50. Sync fee split, they get publishing royalties, I get writer royalties. That is the standard. That's not an opinion to agree or disagree with, it's reality. And reality is "what is".

The reason is simple... the composer isn't doing any publishing work! If you've got LOTS of experience and you're doing half of the publishing work by actively bringing them new composers and/or music or actively making some of your own placements and you need administrative help then you could work some kind of deal. Or if you have a large catalog (hundreds to thousands of tracks or more) then you can make a deal with a library to act as a distributor and work out a co-publishing arrangement. Matt Hirt *might* have one or a few co-publishing deals (out of many) but he's got 15 years+ and a catalog of probably 1200 - 1500 tracks.

Anyway, sugar coating this wouldn't be doing anyone any favors. 50/50 is the standard deal, it just is. Expecting to demand all of the sync fee and half of anyone's publishing revenue as a "standard" will yield exactly 0 deals.

Sync fee split, publisher gets the publisher royalty, writer gets the writer royalty. That's the standard deal. There's no red flag and nothing to get upset over.
Yes, Dave. I agree. But I was not trying to sugar coat anything. Just trying to nuance a claim by saying that expectations can come from many sources, and perspectives. If you come from the artists world, co-publishing might be more used, and then it's likely to bring that into the tv/film world, which is different with less room for negotiating contracts.

It's important to be realistic about the deals you can get, and your own position, especially in todays market. I can also relate to the desire to wish for better deals, though. So, referring to other, also respected sources, that say co-publishing deals exist, is hardly sugar coating. I think it's pretty healthy to approach business as something that is not written in stone. But that might just be me..

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