Confused by the terms work-for-hire, buyout, or direct license? Have you ever encountered these terms in your music agreement? While there are certainly differences, they all essentially mean that:
For a one-time upfront fee, you would irrevocably transfer all right, title and interest in your music to your client or employer for the entire term of copyright throughout the world.
The consequences of these sorts of agreements include:
- Relinquishing your Copyright – In forfeiting ownership of the musical work, you would no longer receive any further remuneration (such as re-use fees and additional licencing fees) for the exploitation of your work on any production worldwide across any media. You have no say in how your music is used and, depending on the contract wording, you may no longer receive any royalties whatsoever for the public performance of your work. Royalties which are the bedrock of a sustainable career in screen composition.
- Lowballing – The upfront fee itself is often lower that the overall costs of producing the score, due to competition and pressure exerted by dominant market services.
- Lack of awareness – Many composers, particularly emerging composers, are unaware of potential revenue streams beyond a first use and as a result, lose out on significant future earnings.
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