Do I Need A Contract?

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Do I Need A Contract?

Post by DBH » Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:24 pm

OK. So this may be a stupid question, but do I need a contract to enable someone to pitch my song? Here's the background:

One of my songs was selected for a listing with another "TAXI-like" service. I've been exchanging emails with the guy that wants to pitch my song, and this is what I've been told:

- The person who picked my song wants to pitch it to a TV music supervisor whom he has a long-standing relationship with. The pitchman claims he doesn't need a signed agreement with me...he already has a signed deal with the music supervisor and "will sign on my behalf" if the song is used. He claims he's placed hundreds & hundreds of songs this way with this type of setup. He merely wants to know the BMI info (title, artist, songwriters, publisher, etc.). This sounds fishy to me...but maybe it's standard practice.
- I'll get no sync fees with this opportunity. If my song is used, I'll find out about it via my BMI royalty statement. I won't find out in advance. Is this standard practice? By the way, I've asked him how he makes money, and he hasn't I'm assuming he is getting some type of sync fee and not passing it on to me.
- This is non-exclusive, so there's no risk to me.

So my questions:
- Doesn't the "pitchman" need an agreement with me allowing him to "shop and sign" my song? Or is an email sufficient?
- I don't have a publisher on this song, so technically I should get the publisher's share of the royalties too, right? On BMI I'm listed as the songwriter/composer with 200%, and the publisher is listed as "Excess Writer Clearance" with 0%
- The guy doesn't have a web site, as he says he works mostly in the background and doesn't need a web site. Is this fishy?

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Do I Need A Contract?

Post by VanderBoegh » Wed Mar 20, 2019 2:42 pm

Some red flags here, and some things not worth worrying about. However, in this case, I think the red flags are too much to ignore.

RED FLAG #1: This came from a "Taxi-Like" service. This is one reason I don't dabble with those other companies. There are just too many unscrupulous people out there, out to capitalize on a musician's ego. Taxi screens the company running listings with them, much in the same way they screen the submitted music. If a company feels shady, unscrupulous, or just "off", Taxi won't run listings for them. Other Taxi knock-off's aren't so discerning.

RED FLAG #2: No signed agreement. Ummmmm..... this is pretty much mandatory. At the very least, you should have the terms of the "deal" written down and signed on a legally binding document. Email just won't cut it here. Without that, I'd say "no way in hell" based upon this alone.

RED FLAG #3: Not answering your question about where his money is coming from in all of this. This just feels like a lack of transparency, or trying to hide something from you. Though, he's probably going to be taking 100% of the publishing.

RED FLAG #4: No cut of the sync fees. What the heck?!?!?! There's no way any reputable company wouldn't give you a portion of any upfront money brought in by your music. In most cases, these sync fees / upfront payments are split 50/50. However, this number can vary depending on other factors. But I've never heard of a company taking every single penny and not giving the composer anything.

Now, for the things that aren't quite worth getting paranoid about:

1) No website. This isn't a deal-breaker. I work with a few companies that don't have websites either. Their business model consists of delivering music to music supervisors via hard-drives. I've made good money from these types of companies, so I wouldn't run for the hills based upon this alone.

2) Publishing money. Technically, if this "pitchman" secures you a placement, he is acting as the publisher. So really, that's where his money would come from. You'd collect the entire writer's share, and he'd collect the entire publisher's share. To accomplish this, he'd need to re-title and re-register the music, and assign himself 100% of the publishing credit (standard practice for non-exclusive libraries).

I'd be interested to hear other thoughts as well. But from my 8 years of experience in this game, and from the 25 library contracts I've signed, this just doesn't feel right to me.


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