Monday, December 6, 2010

Does second producer need to sign work for hire agreement?

Dear RIch: I recently took a production from an artist, (who had had another producer start the production), and I added new, refined production to the first production by adding better drums and guitars to the parts that already existed. Also adding background vocals ad string and various other parts I myself performed. Then mixing the song. Therefore, there is now a new recording which is an amalgamation of the previous artists's and producer's work and my own added work. I was paid to do this and only consider my part a work for hire as a co-producer and instrumentalist. I have requested the artist fill out a production contract giving me 1.5% producer's points. I am allowing for the other producer to retain an additional 1.5% should he request this. 1) Does the other producer necessarily need to be a signatory on this contract between me and the artist. (The other producer was also a work for hire and verbally knew about me re-producing the track but has signed nothing as of yet). 2) Do I have the artist include me and the first producer on the SR copyright form as a work for hire? Or, does the artist leave me and the 1st producer/instrumentalist, OFF of the SR form. The song is now in rotation on NYC radio and thus, I wish to take care of these legal issues so that the artist can put the song on iTunes for sale. Congrats on the heavy rotation! We forgot that radio stations still exist perhaps because there's a gaping hole in our car dashboard where the radio used to be. And by the way, we support your work as a producer. We know how challenging that can be, sometimes. And by the way, you might be interested in this recent study of what one of our musician friends affectionately referred to as the 'mucus biz.'
Right, you had a question(s). Your agreement for payment should not include or even reference the other producer. After all, it's not up to you to determine what the other producer should get. We know that 3% is considered an industry average for producers but the Dear Rich staff also wants to point out that you're both free to seek as little or as much as you want, or to modify the percentage based on the source of income -- for example, you might negotiate 5% of iTunes income and 1% of CD sales income. As always, keep in mind that it's not just the percentage that matters but also the deductions that determine the royalty base.
Names on copyright applications. If, as you say, your contribution is as a work made for hire, then the "author" of your contribution is officially the hiring party,that is, the artist. In other words, you have no claim to copyright under a work made for hire arrangement. In cases like this, the artist can list you as one of the co-authors and indicate that your contribution is a work made for hire. But that doesn't always happen, and if it doesn't, it doesn't render the application defective, either. If you want to be listed on the copyright application you can include that request as part of your production agreement. Although having your name on the application as the author of a work made for hire contribution doesn't grant you any rights, it does inform the world (or at least that part of the world that is searching copyright records) that you are involved in the creation of this work.