Answered by: Michael Laskow
Hi Michael,

I have been approached by a publisher of a music library to do a deal with one of my tracks forwarded by TAXI. This is a first for me and I am wondering how I know if it is a standard deal, and what I should be looking for. Any advice?


Thanks,
Jimmy Morrison


Hi Jimmy,

Congratulations on the deal offer!

The thing about contracts in general, is that nothing is really all that standard, although, there is kind of a range of acceptability. I can't give you legal advice (because I disappointed my parents and didn't go to law school ;-) ), but it's not uncommon for a library to do a derivative copyright deal where it essentially get 75 cents on the dollar, but you get to keep the original copyright, and can pitch and use the song wherever you like. That's my favorite kind of deal.

Other libraries will ask for and get 100 percent of your publishing, and not give you a reversion, meaning that they keep the song forever, even if they don't get it placed. I don't love that deal.

And in the middle is the deal where they get the publishing, but it reverts back to you in 24-36 months if they haven't had a cut with it. That seems fair.

One last thing—most music attorneys (even some of the biggest) are clueless about library deals. They don't even know what libraries ARE, yet they feel qualified to pontificate, and proclaim that the library contracts are "insane." They're NOT. They're just not like regular publishing or artist deals. Truthfully, most library deals are just fine, and not all that negotiable. You'd be wise to seek some advice from your fellow members on our message boards. I know Matt Hirt (a very successful member) frequents the boards, and knows the drill on libraries and placements. Check out this Web site to get to our Forum: http://forums.taxi.com/.

All the best,
Michael



I'm a spoken word artist who falls somewhere between the genres of Hip-Hop, performance poetry, stand-up, etc. Are there resources for what I do via TAXI? I checked out the 'hard to categorize' genre, but the listing that happens to be there now doesn't seem to be applicable. And the Hip-Hop / Rap genre definitely seems to be focused on the mainstream of those categories. What do you think? How often does anything come through for spoken-word performers? Thanks for your time.

Peace,
Pandora


Hi Pandora,

The thing that makes TAXI different from most companies is that we don't want to take your money if we can't really help you. From what you've described, I don't think you'd see a lot of opportunities for what you're doing. Maybe a few, but not a lot. I wish I had better news for you, or another place to send you, but I don't. Most people are looking for stuff that's fairly mainstream. We have had success happen through TAXI for some unusual types of music, but the value for those members is that they ALSO do more mainstream stuff, and pitch the unusual stuff when it comes up.

I wish I could be more help, but it just doesn't sound like TAXI would be a good investment for you.

Warm regards,
Michael



Hi,

I'm a TAXI member who has enlisted the help of a local producer to produce a song of mine. The producer, after hearing the song, wrote up a contract which charges me an $800 fee and grants him and his partner equal shares in the songwriting credit for the song. Is this an advisable agreement into which to enter (The producer was a co-writer on a song on a multi-platinum selling album.)? What are your thoughts in general about this and other similar types of arrangements?


Chauncey Isom

Hi Chauncey,

I get asked this question all the time, and have answered it before, but will again because it's important.

If the producer substantially contributes to the lyric or melody of the song, they probably should get a co-write. If they change a couple or a few words, not so much. But if they change 30 to 50% of the overall song, then a co-write seems fair.

If they just make a few minor arrangement changes, and I MEAN minor, then not so much.

The $800 fee isn't out of line, and the fact that your producer/co-producer has had a cut on a major album could mean that his or her connections are good, and that could help you. But keep that aspect in perspective, and don't make the deal based mostly on the hope that he or she will get your song cut too. Then again, if they make half the money, they're more motivated than if they don't. ;-)

Hope this helps,
Michael



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