by Jeff and Todd Brabec
Since requests for songs are often made over the telephone, with the producer or its representative and the music publisher taking notes on the particulars of the conversation, it is vital to summarize the terms and send them to the other party as soon as possible after the phone call
By following such an approach, both parties will know if there is a misunderstanding right away so that there is ample time to work out an agreement prior to a song's being put in or dropped from an episode.
In all cases, the producer will fax or e-mail the publisher a confirmation letter asking for a countersigned copy or corrections by return.
At one time, these confirmation letters were very short and simple.
In this day of expanding markets and media, however, the telephone conversations and requests are becoming more complicated, making confirmation letters an absolute necessity.
For example, if you give a price for the use of a song in a network television series and option prices for both domestic and foreign home video, pay TV, cable TV, closed circuit, hotel / motel exhibition, mobile phones, video on demand, pay per view, educational stations, foreign broadcast, airlines and other common carriers, promotional uses, Web site, streaming, ringtones, ringbacks, and foreign theatres, many commencing on different dates, both parties had better be sure that they understood the conversation.
It is imperative that if there is a mistake or a point that needs to be clarified in these confirmation letters, the clarification should be done by phone and in writing immediately by letter, fax, or e-mail. Nothing should be taken for granted.
If you find yourself thinking, "Well, that's not exactly what I meant but it's fairly close," or, "I'll fix the mistake later," correct the misunderstanding or clarify the choice of words at once.
Doing so will save a lot of hard feelings and ill will in the future, to say nothing of preventing litigation because a so-called minor issue all of a sudden becomes a major one after the television program has been aired or used in another entertainment medium.
This article is based on information contained in the new, revised paperback edition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business" written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales). www.musicandmoney.com