Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

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Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by Bridgette » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:13 am

Hi, I have a producer who I am paying a flat rate of $500 per song to:
1. hire/direct the musicians (who I will pay),
2. record ALL tracks (instruments, vocals, everything) and
3. generally oversee my EP (6track) project.

I think this rate is more than fair as it includes recording/studio time, basically everything needed before the song gets handed over to the mixer (He is NOT mixing).

My question is, is it fair for him to ask for co-writers and co-publishing credit? The agreement reads:

All musical and compositional collaborations will result in having "Producer" listed as co-songwriter. This includes album and publishing credits.

I have written the songs/music/lyrics/chords 100% myself. He doesn't have any significant industry connections or music that has "gone somewhere". (I live in a small town). His rate is great, so should that be taken into consideration? I feel like I'd be paying twice...

Should this be strictly work-for-hire, or is it fair to to grant him co-songwriting credits? Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!!!! :-)

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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by eeoo » Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:24 pm

Unless he's George Martin I wouldn't pay him his fee plus give him credits. If you love the way he works and the finished products he comes up with maybe negotiate a reduced rate for some share of your credits but even then I'd be hesitant, especially if he has no track record to speak of. Is it his studio? And is the gear great? You should be able to pay 250-300 a day for a nice studio with pro gear and find a good engineer for 40 - 50/hr in my experience so if he has a really nice studio with pro gear and he's a pro engineer the fee sounds quite fair but for credits too? I'd be careful...eo.

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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by rnrmachine » Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:48 pm

Hi Bridgette,

Absolutely NOT... there are plenty of good producers out there looking for work. I would not sign that UNLESS there is a GOOD reason too and I can't think of one. Only actual writers should be getting a writers share. Only publishers should be getting publishers share. He is just trying to get his hands in the cookie jar and hoping that you are naive enough to sign it.

IF you were to have a shot at signing any of the songs on that EP with a real publisher.. being bound to such a contract could lose the deal for you as well... why would the publisher want to lose any of his share??

Take a look at 99% of the songs out there, always shows the composer/songwriter in media files etc... I have yet to see a producers name in that part. And I have a LOT of songs on my one HD. IF there is one I would be shocked that it actually was the producers own song...

ALSO, MAKE SURE that studio isn't going to try and claim ownership of the "Master" either... sounds like you are dealing with a snake and I wouldn't be surprised if he had some other snakes hanging out in his grass with him.

Rob
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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by mojobone » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:43 pm

Bridgette wrote:
All musical and compositional collaborations will result in having "Producer" listed as co-songwriter. This includes album and publishing credits.
At first blush, that sort of language would make me want to run, screaming, in the direction of the next available producer, but I think you should ask the producer how often the clause is invoked, and ask yourself how much the producer can add to your product. It appears, from your post, that you need very little compositional help, so you need to determine whether your producer/engineer is prone to unnecessarily horning in, and whether their contributions are likely to take your work to the next level.

If your producer changes a bassline or re-jiggers the wording/rhythm of the bridge section, she is indeed entitled to a portion of the writer credit, so the question becomes, "What degree of collaboration are you comfortable with?" For myself, and keep in mind, my business involves helping songwriters, some of them neophytes, to realize their vision; I prefer to err on the side of staying out of the songwriter's way, UNLESS they're going to kill the music. (sometimes, I gotta serve the song, even before the songwriter who pays me; in part, because I'm hired for my instincts. This is the line between hiring an engineer and hiring a producer) For me, serving the song trumps taking credit; so long as I feel I'm being adequately compensated. So, in a nutshell, you must balance the producer's contribution with the song's ultimate value. :lol: Good luck with that.
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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by rnrmachine » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:26 pm

Hey Mojo and Bridgette,

We're still talking a work for hire here and paying him upfront and giving him writers share is not normal. Asking for Publishers share too, nothing was mentioned about him doing any of the work that a publisher does... but he wants to get paid for it?!!?

It is NO different then having contractors coming to your house and picking one to do the work you need done... got a shady one talking BS to you? Move on to the next contractor... until you find a good one that is fair. There are plenty good ones out there, find another!!!

IF he is actually going to co-write the songs... well then yes, he SHOULD have co-writer. But you wrote them, you are hiring him for his production skills, not his writing skills. Tell him Flat out, I want a producer, NOT a co-writer!!

Also, I personally would say to him... "Oh so you want to be treated as the publisher too now?? SO what publishing are you planning on doing??... That would be like paying the plumber part of the roofing costs when all he did was the plumbing... WTF is that??

Business is business and everyone has their roles... don't let someone convince you of anything different. Stand up business men wouldn't ask to be paid for work they are not doing. Production is Production.. sure it has a LARGE impact on the song but it is what it is and you pay him for THAT ONLY!! Rarely do producers get "co-writer"..

Now if you are broke and desperate and willing to cut deals just to make this happen.. that would be different but obviously that is NOT the case for you Bridgette... don't let someone treat you as if it is the case!!!

Rob

EDIT: Another thing that proves he is shady is... co-writer is something you discuss upfront, not something you find out when you read over the contract... let alone the publishing BS.
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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by Bridgette » Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:51 pm

Thank you all! This is what my gut was telling me but now I have people with more knowledge than me backing it up. I will make sure the guy signs a work-for-hire.

I've reviewed his work, the several Cds he's produced as well played as studio guitarist for, spoken with his clientele, people 20 years older than me, as well as...well, my age :) ...and truly believe he is a respectable guy, with talent, and a genuine interest in my work. Lacking in business sense, surely. But that's not going to be my problem. I'll stay savvy ;)


I was thinking of just adding a clause that would say... if a significant part of the song (chorus, bridge etc) changes from the original scratch recording, then in that case he would be entitled to a co-writers' share.

If I do that, would that be split 50/50 or a lesser percentage? Or keep it strictly work for hire?


We are doing a scratch vocal/piano (i play piano) take 1st to give to the musicians, so it would be pretty definitive what I'm referring to. Would that be fair to add, or unnecessary, as it may seem I'm trying to appease a person who has 1 specific role. But can you really put that in a box, as you said, you get paid for your instincts....

Lastly, the contract he gave me is more of a generic one, in the sense that this producer is used to the clients that come in like, "I only know 3 chords and will play them into my cassette recorder for you", and then he makes a real song out of it, changing it all from the ground up. That deserves credit, but my situation is definitely different, which he's acknowledged. He gave me the same agreement, saying he gives this to everyone, and we have planned a meeting next week to discuss contract details. I will bring the work for hire form and see by his reaction if he's worthy of further collaboration. If he's genuine, he'll be satisfied with his rate alone.

Cant thank you ALL enough for the comments!!!!!! Let me know what you think abt the clause.....?????

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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by rnrmachine » Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:37 am

Hi Bridgette,

The definition of "significant changes" would have to be WELL defined in order to offer you any real protection. Otherwise Lawyers would end up with all the money in that battle because the argument could go on and on... in other words, it is too open to interpretation.

IF he feels he has come up with a significant change that betters your song he would NEED to discuss this with you and IF you approve the changes then a well defined outline of the changes he made and what compensation you BOTH agree upon is in order. In order for him to be worthy of 50% it would have to be a complete re-write... lyrically and musically. And if that were the case.. IF he is a good producer he should have seen the need for this the moment he read or heard your songs. Re-writes are done BEFORE anyone books any studio time!!! And re-writes are NOT done by producers, they are done by and or with other song writers...

A producer wears MANY hats, that is the nature of the job. It's still only a flat fee job. IF someone can't afford the fee so he/she offers up some rights and the producer is willing to take a gamble on sharing the rights... that is fine. He just wants WAY TOO much from you. You could get a real pro that would do a song for you, totally completed and all you handed him was a vocal line of a few chords, and he might charge $4000-$6000 for the entire project, including musicians, studio time, mixing, etc... and would not THINK of asking for any rights let alone actually do it. Per song of course... but that is a package deal, including EVERYTHING up to but not including mastering in SOME cases it would include a basic mastering. Since you have written it completely the cost would drop. And those guys have actual success under their belt. Don't bend on this... no writers shares... no publishing credits.. etc.. nothing. There are a lot of out of work producers that would jump at a flat fee paying gig... $500 per song is a good fee, that is $3000 (for your project) to set up everyone, book the studio sessions and knock it out. That is GOOD pay especially since decent producers really are a dime a dozen. You are still paying for Musicians, mixing, etc... is studio time extra as well? If he has his own studio and $500 per song is including studio time and he will act as engineer as well then he is still making good money. If you are paying for the studio, engineer, etc.. as well then he is being utterly ridiculous.

$500 per song.. 6 songs should bring a package discount actually!! Now that I think about it.

(This should be your approach here) Build my bathroom then leave please. If you want to help me pick a better tile because the one I choose sucks for whatever reason?... then Thank You, that shows you are a good contractor and you will be the one I call in the future...

Good Luck Bridgette, IF he will not bend on taking a flat fee only.. do a search for studios, they usually have all the connections you need... There is a studio near my house that will let someone direct sessions via telephone... I am confident they are not the only one in the world doing that...

Here is a link just to show you... http://www.creativesoundstudios.com/ I am sure they are expensive but there are MANY options out there...
Here is another fully functional studio 10 minutes form my house Link here : http://www.gargoylerecordingstudios.com/index.htm and I live in "Hicksville, USA"

There are studios EVERYWHERE... and MORE Producers then studios HAHA

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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by jonathanm » Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:39 pm

Hmmm, I don't know anyone that hires a producer to record an album, and then agrees in advance to give him a piece of any song he "contributes" to.

You're hiring him to produce. You're not partnering with him to write. If he winds up contributing on songwriting, that's usually something that (1) you first must be willing to accept the contribution, and (2) then you negotiate from that point what percentage he gets.

To agree on it up front is to invite him to make changes and get a share. If you're wanting to write with him and have him spruce up your tunes from a songwriting standpoint, agree to that up front and outside of the production agreement. If you're not specifically wanting that help from him, don't put it in the production agreement.

Again, if he comes up with a brilliant idea for one of your tunes (that is, melody and lyrics only), you can discuss that with him at that time. But we're not talking about arrangements or how the band plays your song or a lead guitar line or anything like that. None of that is part of the song, it's part of the arrangement, which is not unusual for a producer to contribute on a work-for-hire basis.
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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by Len911 » Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:54 pm

The agreement reads:

All musical and compositional collaborations will result in having "Producer" listed as co-songwriter. This includes album and publishing credits.



~Bridgette~

http://www.bridgetteperdue.com/site/Music.html[/quote]


If he doesn't collaborate, according to the agreement you have nothing to worry about. If he collaborates, he wants to be co-writer, and listed as co-writer in the album and publishing credits, not publisher share, which he wouldn't be entitled to unless he was the publisher, and also you wouldn't be entitled to as well unless you were also the publisher. He also seems to agree that in your case it doesn't apply, probably because he will not be collaborating musically and compositionally. I am sure he uses it as a standard agreement in case he does end up collaborating. I believe the key word in this case is " collaborating".
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Re: Should my paid producer also get co-writers credit/share???

Post by rnrmachine » Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:45 pm

Hey Len,

I get where you are coming from but it is TOO open to interpretation, in a simple honest world you are right Len. But we're talking lawyer world here, nothing honest nor simple about it. It's ALL about the interpretation of the words. There is NO reason for that line to be in any standard production contract as it is very dangerous for the person signing it and very good for the person who wrote it. Also, it is incentive to make changes imho, even if there is none really needed. BUT...

...all he would have to do is discuss ANYTHING within the song with her and that could easily be defined as collaboration... I bet any first year law student could pull that off. If someone posts a song on peer to peer and asks for advice... I reply, too much treble... we have just collaborated... by definition. There is no level of degree of collaboration defined so ANY collaboration entitles him. I bet just being the producer would, in a court, entitle him. Even if he made NO changes to her original song. The fact that he produced it is a collaborative effort in itself.

He also stated publishing credits... in the line. So he would have a claim against ANY publisher that a judge could not outright dismiss. Imho, this would scare away potential publishers, who rightfully, expect to get full publishing credit. I am confident that it would not take much of a lawyer to make TOO MUCH trouble there as well.

All in All, it is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS sentence/line that has no reason being in a production contract in the first place. Other then making a strong case for a lawsuit if the songs make any real money. Maybe he is a nice guy, MAYBE he would NEVER do such a thing... the fact that he stuck that line in the contract in the first place.. tells me HE IS that sort of person!!

Ever hear of someone sticking tape on a self-latching lock, so later they could come back and rob the place? Why would someone stick tape on a lock if they had no intention of doing anything.. in the first place. That line is tape on a lock.

Don't think for a minute that a Major Label would sign that contract with a producer. That label would laugh that man right out of a profession, let alone the office.

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