By Jeffrey and Todd Brabec

Administration Of The Song: If the writer-artist is able to retain a portion of the publishing, the film company will many times allow the writer-artist’s music publisher to jointly administer the composition throughout the world. If the writer-artist’s publishing company is able to secure co-administration rights (where each party represents, licenses and collects royalties for its respective share of the composition), the film company usually places some restrictions on the writer’s publishing representative. For example, there is many times a restriction placed on the writer’s publishing company to grant synchronization licenses for use of the composition in other films, television programs or commercials for a specified period of time after the release of the motion picture without the film company’s permission.

Controlled Composition Clause: The composing agreement will always contain acceptance by the writer-artist of the controlled composition clause provisions of the recording agreement for the soundtrack album, which dictate the amount of mechanical royalties that will be paid for the sale of the soundtrack album or singles. In many cases, the provisions will be attached as an exhibit. In other cases, there will be a specific reference to what the mechanical rate is (for example, 100% statutory at the time the recording is completed or released, a 75% statutory rate with no possibility of reduction, a 75% statutory rate with an 11 composition album cap, etc.).

Rights And Restrictions of the Various Record Companies: Considering that most well known artists who record songs for motion pictures are signed exclusively to record labels, negotiations always take place between the film company and/or the record company releasing the soundtrack album and the artist’s current record company. In this regard, the soundtrack record label may secure the right to put the recording on the soundtrack album but might only be able to release it as a single with the permission of the artist’s record label. In many cases, the artist’s label may be able to include the master on its next studio album or any “greatest hits” album but with the proviso that such will not occur for 1 year from release of the film in the United States.

Artist Royalty: The agreement will also specify what the artist royalty will be and will many times, since the percentage royalty is pro-rated depending on the number of other artists and masters on the soundtrack album, guarantee a minimum percentage under which the artist’s rate will not go below. As in all record contracts, the artist royalty for top-line normal retail sales will be reduced for certain categories (such as record clubs, foreign, mid-price, budget and single sales), recorded configurations (CDs, new technology devices) and be subject to other deductions (such as packaging charges, free goods, discounts) and reserve policies (to cover returned albums and singles).

Credit: ongwriter and performer credit will be guaranteed in the film (almost always in the closing credits) and, if the artist is signed to another record label, that label many times will receive on screen credit as well. Credits may also be guaranteed for certain ads for the soundtrack album and, on occasion, for ads for the motion picture but all this is negotiable.

© 2003 Todd Brabec, Jeff Brabec
For more information, check out the ASCAP Web site at or the book Music, Money and Success, The Insider's Guide to Making Money in the Music Industry (Music Sales). Check out also