The following guest post is written by Steven Masur a partner at Masur Griffitts & Co., a New York based law firm that specializes in advising emerging and established businesses. In addition to music and entertainment Steven helps advise clients on corporate finance, M&A, intellectual property and new technology.
There are a lot of articles about the legal issues you may encounter in a typical licensing negotiation. But the truth is, there’s no such thing as typical when it comes to your music, and you don’t need to know each point your lawyer will argue. It’s not that you can’t handle the truth. Just that some of the finer points are purely for a hypothetical world in which you, or your successors, end up in court. In the here and now, what you really need to know are the practical considerations that will drive your discussion of scope, length and pricing for potential licensed uses.
So get as much information as you can about planned uses. Is this for film, TV, streaming VOD, or some other use? What’s the revenue model, subscription, ad-driven content, theatrical release, social media, TV, or something else? If this is for a theatrical production, is the music central to the script? What other music might they use adjacent to yours? Will distribution be a released in theaters, Netflix, indie arthouses, or what? What is their international distribution plan? What’s the budget for the entire production, and how much of that is allocated for music? If this is for brand advertising, is there a good music to product fit? What’s the scale and length of the campaign? Who are the influencers?
Keep asking questions about the scale of the opportunity, and how the music will be used. As you become more clear about that, a comfortable idea of your best pricing will form in your mind. If that does not happen immediately, you can always tell them you have to talk to your artist and get back to them.
Be skeptical of “test” deals, where licensees pitch limited usage rights for a test to see how your music reacts against a market, or “just for social media.” Make no mistake, as soon as your music is being exposed to actual customers for their product, that’s a use, not just a test, and it’s unlikely they will be coming back for more.
Set a relatively high initial price, but always leave the door open to negotiation. Remember that having your music in circulation in any context is great promotion for future uses, for selling your other songs, and for your participation in a new tour. Exposure works. The more you play, the more you get paid, so get out there. I’ll see you at your next show!
To learn more about Steven & his firm visit: https://masur.com/