It’s been a busy year for this series of music industry blogs . . .
January 2018 – Music Agreement Tips
I shared some general tips that I encourage musicians to keep in mind when negotiating music deals. Key points included: you don’t need to accept an offer if it’s given; deals are about more than money; it’s essential to keep in mind the main reason(s) for entering into the deal; try to avoid making the first offer; create leverage; and don’t let the other party take advantage of you because you’re waiting for them. Lastly, it’s better to sign a decent deal with a great partner as compared to a great deal with a not so decent partner, so do your due diligence to ensure you’re working with the right partner.
February 2018 – Should I Incorporate?
The article covered the three business structures in Ontario—sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation. Typical reasons for musicians to incorporate are to provide for the possibility of tax planning, to separate yourself from the business for liability purposes, and for grant eligibility. Music accountant Charlie Sohmer noted, unless you’re making a lot of money and you don’t immediately need to draw out all that money to run your lifestyle, then don’t bother incorporating.
March 2018 – Nine Words
If you’re uncertain about what the deal is between you and the people with whom you are making music, ask nine words to start the conversation: What are your expectations of me and my music? This question can lead to others, for example about co-called writer’s share and publisher’s share of performance rights royalties, who owns the master, how sales are shared, who gets what credit, etc. However, a good starting point in many music situations are my favourite nine words.
The Ontario Arts Council’s Music Recording Projects program supports the recording of music by Ontario-based musicians including composers, songwriters and beat producers. The next application deadline is May 16, 2019. There are two Music Recording Projects program categories: Demo/EP recordings ($5,000) and Full-length album ($12,000). The program funds expenses including recording, mixing, mastering, artist and producer fees (including fees to the applicant!), studio and venue rental, art, promo, manufacturing up to a thousand units, and equipment rental. Go online for more information and set many deadline reminders!
May 2018 – SCORE! A producer wants me to compose a score!
Concepts to keep in mind if you’re presented with an opportunity to score include delivery (be on the same page with the producer about what she wants you to provide), rights (retain the so-called writer’s share of performance rights royalties in full and try to get some or all of the so-called publisher’s share), payment schedule (get clarity and think about the difference between paid on delivery and paid on the producer’s acceptance), and change requests (pick a limit).
June 2018 – Travelling for your Music? SOCAN Can Help
The SOCAN Foundation provides grants to creators, music publishers, and individuals, as well as for organizations. If you’re travelling between 201 and 1,000 kilometres one way, you can receive up to $400. The funds increase to $1,000 if travel is over 5,000 kilometres away, one way. For creators, SOCAN provides grants for travel assistance, professional development, and to create new works in all genres of music. Travel grant applications may be made anytime, and results are to be announced within 10 weeks. The grants cover travel-related costs for career-building or career-defining activities in Canada or abroad. Eligible activities include award presentations, important performances, residencies, showcases, and workshops. One Travel Assistance Grant is available per calendar year.
July 2018 – The ISRC Article
The piece skimmed the surface of what an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is, how to get it (CONNECT Music Licensing Service Inc.), and how to use it. The ISRC is the globally recognized standard numbering system for sound recordings and music video recordings. It’s the 12-digit alphanumeric code that acts as a digital fingerprint for each of those recordings. Digital services and retailers use ISRCs to track and identify recordings. As an independent artist not signed with a label yet, it is your responsibility as owner of your master recordings to get ISRCs assigned to each recording and video. Embed the ISRC into all audio and video works at the final stage of audio mastering / video editing, and provide ISRCs when uploading audio or video recordings to digital services or retailers. The ISRC is used for tracking sales, and music charts.
August 2018 – Public Domain Arrangements and Adaptions
This article introduced the concept of music being in the public domain, and how to register your arrangements of public domain music and/or adaptations of public domain lyrics with SOCAN. The exclusive rights that a person automatically receives once she creates a work—including the rights to reproduce, perform and publish that work—eventually expire. When copyright rights expire, the work goes into the public domain. Once a composition goes into the public domain, the writers (or their representatives) are no longer paid writing royalties, and decisions that once required writer approval no longer apply. The article also outlined the seven scenarios relating to how public domain works are registered with SOCAN if there’s an arrangement and/or adaption of a public domain composition.
September 2018 – The Momager
Whether a musician’s manager is a friend, music veteran, or parent, there are similar considerations and goals. However, there is an added layer when you’re also the parent. The article focused on two of the key music rights-related situations that stage parents (aka Momagers) encounter—production deals that producers want your child to sign; and singing competitions. Key elements of production deals are scope, approvals, fees, rights and obligations, termination and it being a written agreement. Some key considerations before advising your child whether he or she should enter a competition include the time commitment, fee, rights granted now and in future, and the extent of the exclusivity.
October 2018 – The 25 Year Reversion Rule
Bryan Adams wants Canada’s copyright law to change. If a creator’s copyright in his or her work (such as a song or book) has been assigned or licensed, it is automatically returned (“reverts”) to their estate 25 years after his or her death. Adams wants the 25-year period to start when the assignment is made as opposed to when the creator dies. On the surface a shorter assignment period offers creators more control over their work and more potential for reaping the long-term financial benefits that stem from commercially successful creations. However, this may have unintended consequences for artists in the shorter term. Changing the rule may impact how much publishers and labels are willing to advance on licensed work, as the recoupment period may be shortened. We want artists to receive as much revenue as possible from the exploitation of their music. This isn’t the only way and there are challenges that should be addressed to ensure positive outcomes for artists.
November 2018 – Music in Productions
The article covered two necessary rights when placing music in productions—master use rights to use a song’s specific recording; and synchronization rights to use the underlying composition. Everyone who controls a share of the master use or sync licenses must give permission for the song to be used.
December 2018 – The CanCon Article
MAPL, which is an acronym for Music, Artist, Performance and Lyrics, is the system used to determine whether a piece of music or television content qualifies as Canadian Content aka CanCon. In Canada, the Canadian Radio Television and Communication Commission (CRTC) requires that CanCon make up a certain minimum percentage of radio and television content. While there are caveats, to qualify as CanCon a musical selection must generally fulfill at least two of the following conditions:
M (music): The music is composed entirely by a Canadian.
A (artist): The music is, or the lyrics are, performed principally by a Canadian.
P (performance): The musical selection consists of a performance that is recorded wholly in Canada, or performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada.
L (lyrics): The lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian.
Have 2019 blog ideas? Email me! All the best in 2019!
Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, and Publishing industry clients. For more info and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca
Regarding music law, Byron Pascoe works with musicians and music companies to assist with record label agreements, publishing contracts, distribution deals, producer agreements, band agreements, etc.
© 2018 Edwards PC
* This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.