Composing : Film composer/licensing sample agreement by J.C. Schütz

J.C. Schütz

Film composer/licensing sample agreement

Dear colleagues, hope you're all well! Does anyone in here know of a site where I can find good sample agreements for different kinds of film music contracts? I know there are different kinds of agreements, and I'm looking for both a composer agreement and a licensing agreement of an existing recording. Any recommendations?

Joel Irwin

I understand the need to keep prices down and that templates are a great way to do it. But unless you are working with someone who is producing a low budget or no budget film, you are taking a risk/assume a risk. By that I mean, as much as you may or may not know your 'customer', they are in both the movie making (artistic) business and money making business. They either have the contract 'experience' and/or have their own lawyer. They are going to look after their own interests which may require adding things or intentionally leaving things out (like using your music in ways/scenarios you did not originally intend and totally forgot about in the agreement). I can understand you may want to use a template for licensing a commercial track especially if you are getting paid say under $100. But I would highly suggest you get an entertainment attorney for any custom written / film music - especially if it is the customary 'work for hire'. There is a misconception that lawyers costs for you go up quickly at upwards of $300/hour. Perhaps that is the case for a complex contract where you are being paid a boat load of money. But most lawyers and firms understand the business and know there are participants at the beginning of their careers/journeys and want to build long term relationships (for future contracts and income). So they are willing to work out 'arrangements' with you that can often keep the costs below 20% of your income. (They know if they take too much of your pie you won't hire them). For example, I am now working on my 7th IMDB short in 2 1/2 years and they were all no budget and when films stay in festivals only or competitions as shorts due, I am willing to assume the risk and not work out a contract for 'no cost'. Many composers won't do that. But next week, a feature "Joy Comes In The Morning" starts filming and I have been signed on as the composer. It will be my first feature. If you look it up in IMDB, you can see it supposedly has a $250,000 budget. There is sufficient money there for cast and crew and as this is destined for theatrical release and possibly future income from many other sources such as potentially network. I would be foolish not to retain a lawyer for a contract and I have one.

J.C. Schütz

Thanks Joel for your reply and information. Congrats to the coming feature, sounds like your patience is paying off. I fully understand the jungle of contract scenarios, companies have tried to trick me several times in the small print, without luck, and I'm well aware of the pitfalls... This time, though, I'm just looking for good templates to study.

Samuel Estes

J.C. - Check with the SCL they have a few good ones.

J.C. Schütz

Thank you Samuel!

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