Composing : Licensing Deals by Michael Vignola

Michael Vignola

Licensing Deals

Licensing Deals, what's Better Exclusive or Non-Exclusive? And what are the best Licensing companies you have worked with? Some insight on this would be much appreciated!

Joel Irwin

Looking from the 'bottom' of the composing pyramid, where I am not working on mid to high budget films, most of the filmmakers I am currently dealing with have little to know budget. So the usage deals tend to be a bit less formal/legal - I maintain all rights and it is for non-exclusive use. Though to be quite frank, unless a major deal came for that music from a well paying source, I would doubt I would re-use the same music for another film in the same 'category'. Cues I write are generally written and customized for a particular film. I do not currently compose to libraries as some of my local composing friends do. When addressing completed commercial works (most often vocal based), that is different since it comes within the realm of music supervision (which will depend on who is marketing your material to the music supervisors or if you are doing so yourself, what is contract the music supervisor offering to you - often the same as every other commercial song they license). If the filmmaker wants exclusive use or the traditional 'work for hire' arrangement which assigns the ownership/rights to them, I would need to get significant compensation and even then, I would still want to maintain royalty rights for network showings and European theatrical releases. I don't deal currently with external entities to license my custom written cues - I work directly with the filmmaker. For finished works not originally written for films, I deal with which is run by friend/acquaintance, Larry Coffing. They have dealings with all the major studios and have a relationship with the artists which is a standard non-exclusive publishing arrangement - 50/50.

Matt Milne

Go with what you feel most comfortable with, what protects your rights, and what your producer will accept. On the whole, exclusive rights for a producer is better for their franchise, and cleaner for you. Non-exclusive gives the most flexibility post-release, and will allow you to get the most out of a work, but at the expense of control for the film's producer. if you're writing unique themes, it is best to identify them exclusively with the film they're made for. If you're making something that can go with everything, non-exclusive is better. Non-exclusive is also useful, when the success of a project is less than guaranteed.

Jim Pfeifer

There are pro's and con's for both Exclusive and Non-Exclusive deals. With a non-Exclusive arrangement you're free to shop your music to multiple places and work with other publishers in a non-exclusive arrangement if you like. However, some opportunities will only work with you on an exclusive basis. Some music libraries prefer to work with composers on an exclusive basis, and it's also more common when licensing music for advertising. Going with an exclusive licensing arrangement can mean better terms also, but if your music is neglected by the people you are entering into the deal with, then you don't have the freedom to shop your songs elsewhere.

Michael Vignola

That's the thing I struggle with, I am hesitant with exclusive deals for that reason. This one company, what they do is a call for music a group email, on what they are looking for, called "custom cues" the tracks if green lighted go into a library for the show or whatever it is there client is looking for at the time. The thing is these deals are only 50% writers share and 0% publisher for the composer. Which doesn't really bother me it's the exclusive deal into the library I struggled with. Also the tracks will be tide up for 5 years. I just don't want to pick the wrong company and the music gets lost. I want to maximize the tracks potential.

Timothy Andrew Edwards
  1. European sub-publishers will not rep a domestic publisher's catalog if it's composer deals are non-exclusive. 2. If you do go the non-exclusive route, make sure you have term limits in place. Non-exclusive "in perpetuity" (forever) deals mean you can only EVER be non-exclusive with anyone else. Have an end point if possible with renewal options. 3. Research the library you are pitching. Make sure they have a track record and "reach" to as many networks, production companies, etc and it will be less likely that your music will be "neglected". The only time it is not used is if it's not appropriate for the productions they are ptching to or the music is somehow viewed as subpar. 4. Regarding the best licensing companies/production music libraries, again, do your research. They all have websites. See what they've done and with who and listen to their catalog. Are you a good fit? Is your music produced as well as the existing titles? Good stuff to think about. : )
Timothy Andrew Edwards

I wouldn't deal with a company that bites into the writer's share. That is unethical and if they are unethical about that then what else are they being unethical about? Do you have a soundcloud page or a website?

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