"Dramatizing a Song into a Motion Picture or Television Program"

Dramatizing a Song Into a Motion Picture or Television Program 

 

 

On occasion, if the story line of a composition is strong, or the subject matter unique, there might be interest by a producer, a third party, or one of the copyright owners to try to turn the song into a motion picture or television production. In these cases, the agreement to secure the necessary rights is usually structured as an option agreement with various payments triggered upon the achievement of certain specified events or criteria. The following will summarize some of the approaches in this area; an area which can be extremely valuable if, in fact, the motion picture or television vehicle is actually produced and commercially distributed.

 

Initial Option Period and Extensions

In most cases, the interested producer (which can be a music publisher or songwriter or other third party who believes in the viability of the project) will receive an option to purchase the necessary motion picture, television, and other ancillary rights for a set amount of money which is normally non-recoupable. This initial period can last for a period of months or years depending on the bargaining power of the parties. The rights granted by the option will be exclusive and will many times be for a period of one year.

 

There will usually be an option to extend the duration of the initial exclusive period for an additional period of time (e.g., six months, one year, etc.) for the payment of an additional fee to the copyright owner of the composition, which is, in most cases, the music publisher. There also may be an additional payment, sometimes called a “setup bonus,” if the owner of the option is able to receive an initial commitment from a film company, television production company, or broadcast / cable entity with such bonus being paid upon commencement of the script or upon the optioning of the “spec script” by a producer or other party.

 

Purchase Price

Once a firm commitment has been secured from a film or television company and the project is going ahead, the producer will exercise its option to acquire the property and will pay the copyright owner(s) of the composition the purchase price.

 

The purchase price will usually be structured with different price points dependent on the type of project going forward. For example, there may be a set price depending on whether the production is a theatrical motion picture, a made-for-TV film, a television series with further monetary distinctions being provided for if the broadcaster is a network, cable, or internet streaming service. In this regard, the payment is many times made at the start of principal photography of the project.

 

Rights Granted

The primary exclusive rights granted will be those related to the creation and production of an initial motion picture or television program, as well as any allied rights throughout the world or universe. The rights granted will also include the right to produce additional film or television programs based on the composition or original production and will include the rights to use all characters, story lines, dialogue, and scenes.

 

In addition, the producer will receive the right to utilize the composition as the theme to the project (e.g., opening or closing credits) as well as in the project as the producer elects.  Other rights granted include, but may not be limited to, broadcast, transmission, exhibition and distribution, advertising and promotion, merchandise derived from the project and the right to use the title of the composition.

 

Synchronization Fees

If the project goes forward, there will be synchronization fees payable to the music publisher (and songwriter) if the composition is actually utilized in the film or television series. In most cases, the actual fees will be spelled out in the agreement (rather than in a “to be negotiated in good faith” clause) with set dollar amounts on an episode-by-episode basis if a television series and a one-time payment if a motion picture or made-for-TV movie. In context and out-of-context promo uses (such as trailers, advertising, etc.) will also be negotiated.

 

Profit Participation

If the project is a movie or series, there can be profit participation based on the adjusted gross income of the producer. The participation percentage is usually not large (e.g. 2-5%) with an important part of the negotiation being the definition of “adjusted gross” revenue and how it is calculated; an area which is complex and which has created a certain amount of litigation.

 

Television Episode Royalties

In addition to the synchronization fee for each episode using the composition, there will also be a so called “rights fee,” which recognizes the underlying dramatization rights to the composition, for each episode produced and broadcast.

 

Consultancy Fees

In some agreements, the music publisher and/or songwriter may be guaranteed a consultancy fee. For a television series, this would be on an episode basis and for a film, it may be a one-time fee.

 

Spin-Offs, Remakes, Prequels, and Sequels

If there is a spin-off, remake, prequel, or sequel made by the producer, there will be additional fees payable to cover compensation for these additional projects based in some way on the contents of the original production. For example, the purchase price payment, episode rights royalty, and profit participation might be structured between 25% and 50% (but can be more) of the amounts paid for the original project; the actual amount being negotiable, depending on the bargaining power of the parties.

 

Other Clauses

There will also be provisions with respect to assignment, warranties, representations, and indemnities, as well as error and omissions (E&O) coverage for the music publisher and writer under the producer’s policy.

 

Long Form Agreement

 

© 2013 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised 7thedition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business"written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).  See also www.musicandmoney.com

 

Since the initial document is many times a short form agreement (3 to 5 pages), there will be language which provides that the parties intend to negotiate a long form agreement in good faith but with the understanding that the signed short form will be a binding agreement between the parties.

 

 

© 2019 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

Dramatizing a Song Into a Motion Picture or Television Program 

 

 

On occasion, if the story line of a composition is strong, or the subject matter unique, there might be interest by a producer, a third party, or one of the copyright owners to try to turn the song into a motion picture or television production. In these cases, the agreement to secure the necessary rights is usually structured as an option agreement with various payments triggered upon the achievement of certain specified events or criteria. The following will summarize some of the approaches in this area; an area which can be extremely valuable if, in fact, the motion picture or television vehicle is actually produced and commercially distributed.

 

Initial Option Period and Extensions

In most cases, the interested producer (which can be a music publisher or songwriter or other third party who believes in the viability of the project) will receive an option to purchase the necessary motion picture, television, and other ancillary rights for a set amount of money which is normally non-recoupable. This initial period can last for a period of months or years depending on the bargaining power of the parties. The rights granted by the option will be exclusive and will many times be for a period of one year.

 

There will usually be an option to extend the duration of the initial exclusive period for an additional period of time (e.g., six months, one year, etc.) for the payment of an additional fee to the copyright owner of the composition, which is, in most cases, the music publisher. There also may be an additional payment, sometimes called a “setup bonus,” if the owner of the option is able to receive an initial commitment from a film company, television production company, or broadcast / cable entity with such bonus being paid upon commencement of the script or upon the optioning of the “spec script” by a producer or other party.

 

Purchase Price

Once a firm commitment has been secured from a film or television company and the project is going ahead, the producer will exercise its option to acquire the property and will pay the copyright owner(s) of the composition the purchase price.

 

The purchase price will usually be structured with different price points dependent on the type of project going forward. For example, there may be a set price depending on whether the production is a theatrical motion picture, a made-for-TV film, a television series with further monetary distinctions being provided for if the broadcaster is a network, cable, or internet streaming service. In this regard, the payment is many times made at the start of principal photography of the project.

 

Rights Granted

The primary exclusive rights granted will be those related to the creation and production of an initial motion picture or television program, as well as any allied rights throughout the world or universe. The rights granted will also include the right to produce additional film or television programs based on the composition or original production and will include the rights to use all characters, story lines, dialogue, and scenes.

 

In addition, the producer will receive the right to utilize the composition as the theme to the project (e.g., opening or closing credits) as well as in the project as the producer elects.  Other rights granted include, but may not be limited to, broadcast, transmission, exhibition and distribution, advertising and promotion, merchandise derived from the project and the right to use the title of the composition.

 

Synchronization Fees

If the project goes forward, there will be synchronization fees payable to the music publisher (and songwriter) if the composition is actually utilized in the film or television series. In most cases, the actual fees will be spelled out in the agreement (rather than in a “to be negotiated in good faith” clause) with set dollar amounts on an episode-by-episode basis if a television series and a one-time payment if a motion picture or made-for-TV movie. In context and out-of-context promo uses (such as trailers, advertising, etc.) will also be negotiated.

 

Profit Participation

If the project is a movie or series, there can be profit participation based on the adjusted gross income of the producer. The participation percentage is usually not large (e.g. 2-5%) with an important part of the negotiation being the definition of “adjusted gross” revenue and how it is calculated; an area which is complex and which has created a certain amount of litigation.

 

Television Episode Royalties

In addition to the synchronization fee for each episode using the composition, there will also be a so called “rights fee,” which recognizes the underlying dramatization rights to the composition, for each episode produced and broadcast.

 

Consultancy Fees

In some agreements, the music publisher and/or songwriter may be guaranteed a consultancy fee. For a television series, this would be on an episode basis and for a film, it may be a one-time fee.

 

Spin-Offs, Remakes, Prequels, and Sequels

If there is a spin-off, remake, prequel, or sequel made by the producer, there will be additional fees payable to cover compensation for these additional projects based in some way on the contents of the original production. For example, the purchase price payment, episode rights royalty, and profit participation might be structured between 25% and 50% (but can be more) of the amounts paid for the original project; the actual amount being negotiable, depending on the bargaining power of the parties.

 

Other Clauses

There will also be provisions with respect to assignment, warranties, representations, and indemnities, as well as error and omissions (E&O) coverage for the music publisher and writer under the producer’s policy.

 

Long Form Agreement

 

© 2013 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised 7thedition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business"written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).  See also www.musicandmoney.com

 

Since the initial document is many times a short form agreement (3 to 5 pages), there will be language which provides that the parties intend to negotiate a long form agreement in good faith but with the understanding that the signed short form will be a binding agreement between the parties.

 

 

© 2019 Jeff Brabec, Todd BrabecDramatizing a Song Into a Motion Picture or Television Program

 

 

On occasion, if the story line of a composition is strong, or the subject matter unique, there might be interest by a producer, a third party, or one of the copyright owners to try to turn the song into a motion picture or television production. In these cases, the agreement to secure the necessary rights is usually structured as an option agreement with various payments triggered upon the achievement of certain specified events or criteria. The following will summarize some of the approaches in this area; an area which can be extremely valuable if, in fact, the motion picture or television vehicle is actually produced and commercially distributed.

 

Initial Option Period and Extensions

In most cases, the interested producer (which can be a music publisher or songwriter or other third party who believes in the viability of the project) will receive an option to purchase the necessary motion picture, television, and other ancillary rights for a set amount of money which is normally non-recoupable. This initial period can last for a period of months or years depending on the bargaining power of the parties. The rights granted by the option will be exclusive and will many times be for a period of one year.

 

There will usually be an option to extend the duration of the initial exclusive period for an additional period of time (e.g., six months, one year, etc.) for the payment of an additional fee to the copyright owner of the composition, which is, in most cases, the music publisher. There also may be an additional payment, sometimes called a “setup bonus,” if the owner of the option is able to receive an initial commitment from a film company, television production company, or broadcast / cable entity with such bonus being paid upon commencement of the script or upon the optioning of the “spec script” by a producer or other party.

 

Purchase Price

Once a firm commitment has been secured from a film or television company and the project is going ahead, the producer will exercise its option to acquire the property and will pay the copyright owner(s) of the composition the purchase price.

 

The purchase price will usually be structured with different price points dependent on the type of project going forward. For example, there may be a set price depending on whether the production is a theatrical motion picture, a made-for-TV film, a television series with further monetary distinctions being provided for if the broadcaster is a network, cable, or internet streaming service. In this regard, the payment is many times made at the start of principal photography of the project.

 

Rights Granted

The primary exclusive rights granted will be those related to the creation and production of an initial motion picture or television program, as well as any allied rights throughout the world or universe. The rights granted will also include the right to produce additional film or television programs based on the composition or original production and will include the rights to use all characters, story lines, dialogue, and scenes.

 

In addition, the producer will receive the right to utilize the composition as the theme to the project (e.g., opening or closing credits) as well as in the project as the producer elects.  Other rights granted include, but may not be limited to, broadcast, transmission, exhibition and distribution, advertising and promotion, merchandise derived from the project and the right to use the title of the composition.

 

Synchronization Fees

If the project goes forward, there will be synchronization fees payable to the music publisher (and songwriter) if the composition is actually utilized in the film or television series. In most cases, the actual fees will be spelled out in the agreement (rather than in a “to be negotiated in good faith” clause) with set dollar amounts on an episode-by-episode basis if a television series and a one-time payment if a motion picture or made-for-TV movie. In context and out-of-context promo uses (such as trailers, advertising, etc.) will also be negotiated.

 

Profit Participation

If the project is a movie or series, there can be profit participation based on the adjusted gross income of the producer. The participation percentage is usually not large (e.g. 2-5%) with an important part of the negotiation being the definition of “adjusted gross” revenue and how it is calculated; an area which is complex and which has created a certain amount of litigation.

 

Television Episode Royalties

In addition to the synchronization fee for each episode using the composition, there will also be a so called “rights fee,” which recognizes the underlying dramatization rights to the composition, for each episode produced and broadcast.

 

Consultancy Fees

In some agreements, the music publisher and/or songwriter may be guaranteed a consultancy fee. For a television series, this would be on an episode basis and for a film, it may be a one-time fee.

 

Spin-Offs, Remakes, Prequels, and Sequels

If there is a spin-off, remake, prequel, or sequel made by the producer, there will be additional fees payable to cover compensation for these additional projects based in some way on the contents of the original production. For example, the purchase price payment, episode rights royalty, and profit participation might be structured between 25% and 50% (but can be more) of the amounts paid for the original project; the actual amount being negotiable, depending on the bargaining power of the parties.

 

Other Clauses

There will also be provisions with respect to assignment, warranties, representations, and indemnities, as well as error and omissions (E&O) coverage for the music publisher and writer under the producer’s policy.

 

Long Form Agreement

 

© 2013 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised 7thedition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business"written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).  See also www.musicandmoney.com

 

Since the initial document is many times a short form agreement (3 to 5 pages), there will be language which provides that the parties intend to negotiate a long form agreement in good faith but with the understanding that the signed short form will be a binding agreement between the parties.

 

 

© 2019 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

Dramatizing a Song Into a Motion Picture or Television Program 

 

 

On occasion, if the story line of a composition is strong, or the subject matter unique, there might be interest by a producer, a third party, or one of the copyright owners to try to turn the song into a motion picture or television production. In these cases, the agreement to secure the necessary rights is usually structured as an option agreement with various payments triggered upon the achievement of certain specified events or criteria. The following will summarize some of the approaches in this area; an area which can be extremely valuable if, in fact, the motion picture or television vehicle is actually produced and commercially distributed.

 

Initial Option Period and Extensions

In most cases, the interested producer (which can be a music publisher or songwriter or other third party who believes in the viability of the project) will receive an option to purchase the necessary motion picture, television, and other ancillary rights for a set amount of money which is normally non-recoupable. This initial period can last for a period of months or years depending on the bargaining power of the parties. The rights granted by the option will be exclusive and will many times be for a period of one year.

 

There will usually be an option to extend the duration of the initial exclusive period for an additional period of time (e.g., six months, one year, etc.) for the payment of an additional fee to the copyright owner of the composition, which is, in most cases, the music publisher. There also may be an additional payment, sometimes called a “setup bonus,” if the owner of the option is able to receive an initial commitment from a film company, television production company, or broadcast / cable entity with such bonus being paid upon commencement of the script or upon the optioning of the “spec script” by a producer or other party.

 

Purchase Price

Once a firm commitment has been secured from a film or television company and the project is going ahead, the producer will exercise its option to acquire the property and will pay the copyright owner(s) of the composition the purchase price.

 

The purchase price will usually be structured with different price points dependent on the type of project going forward. For example, there may be a set price depending on whether the production is a theatrical motion picture, a made-for-TV film, a television series with further monetary distinctions being provided for if the broadcaster is a network, cable, or internet streaming service. In this regard, the payment is many times made at the start of principal photography of the project.

 

Rights Granted

The primary exclusive rights granted will be those related to the creation and production of an initial motion picture or television program, as well as any allied rights throughout the world or universe. The rights granted will also include the right to produce additional film or television programs based on the composition or original production and will include the rights to use all characters, story lines, dialogue, and scenes.

 

In addition, the producer will receive the right to utilize the composition as the theme to the project (e.g., opening or closing credits) as well as in the project as the producer elects.  Other rights granted include, but may not be limited to, broadcast, transmission, exhibition and distribution, advertising and promotion, merchandise derived from the project and the right to use the title of the composition.

 

Synchronization Fees

If the project goes forward, there will be synchronization fees payable to the music publisher (and songwriter) if the composition is actually utilized in the film or television series. In most cases, the actual fees will be spelled out in the agreement (rather than in a “to be negotiated in good faith” clause) with set dollar amounts on an episode-by-episode basis if a television series and a one-time payment if a motion picture or made-for-TV movie. In context and out-of-context promo uses (such as trailers, advertising, etc.) will also be negotiated.

 

Profit Participation

If the project is a movie or series, there can be profit participation based on the adjusted gross income of the producer. The participation percentage is usually not large (e.g. 2-5%) with an important part of the negotiation being the definition of “adjusted gross” revenue and how it is calculated; an area which is complex and which has created a certain amount of litigation.

 

Television Episode Royalties

In addition to the synchronization fee for each episode using the composition, there will also be a so called “rights fee,” which recognizes the underlying dramatization rights to the composition, for each episode produced and broadcast.

 

Consultancy Fees

In some agreements, the music publisher and/or songwriter may be guaranteed a consultancy fee. For a television series, this would be on an episode basis and for a film, it may be a one-time fee.

 

Spin-Offs, Remakes, Prequels, and Sequels

If there is a spin-off, remake, prequel, or sequel made by the producer, there will be additional fees payable to cover compensation for these additional projects based in some way on the contents of the original production. For example, the purchase price payment, episode rights royalty, and profit participation might be structured between 25% and 50% (but can be more) of the amounts paid for the original project; the actual amount being negotiable, depending on the bargaining power of the parties.

 

Other Clauses

There will also be provisions with respect to assignment, warranties, representations, and indemnities, as well as error and omissions (E&O) coverage for the music publisher and writer under the producer’s policy.

 

Long Form Agreement

 

© 2013 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised 7thedition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business"written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).  See also www.musicandmoney.com

 

Since the initial document is many times a short form agreement (3 to 5 pages), there will be language which provides that the parties intend to negotiate a long form agreement in good faith but with the understanding that the signed short form will be a binding agreement between the parties.

 

 

© 2019 Jeff Brabec, Todd BrabecDramatizing a Song Into a Motion Picture or Television Program

 

 

On occasion, if the story line of a composition is strong, or the subject matter unique, there might be interest by a producer, a third party, or one of the copyright owners to try to turn the song into a motion picture or television production. In these cases, the agreement to secure the necessary rights is usually structured as an option agreement with various payments triggered upon the achievement of certain specified events or criteria. The following will summarize some of the approaches in this area; an area which can be extremely valuable if, in fact, the motion picture or television vehicle is actually produced and commercially distributed.

 

Initial Option Period and Extensions

In most cases, the interested producer (which can be a music publisher or songwriter or other third party who believes in the viability of the project) will receive an option to purchase the necessary motion picture, television, and other ancillary rights for a set amount of money which is normally non-recoupable. This initial period can last for a period of months or years depending on the bargaining power of the parties. The rights granted by the option will be exclusive and will many times be for a period of one year.

 

There will usually be an option to extend the duration of the initial exclusive period for an additional period of time (e.g., six months, one year, etc.) for the payment of an additional fee to the copyright owner of the composition, which is, in most cases, the music publisher. There also may be an additional payment, sometimes called a “setup bonus,” if the owner of the option is able to receive an initial commitment from a film company, television production company, or broadcast / cable entity with such bonus being paid upon commencement of the script or upon the optioning of the “spec script” by a producer or other party.

 

Purchase Price

Once a firm commitment has been secured from a film or television company and the project is going ahead, the producer will exercise its option to acquire the property and will pay the copyright owner(s) of the composition the purchase price.

 

The purchase price will usually be structured with different price points dependent on the type of project going forward. For example, there may be a set price depending on whether the production is a theatrical motion picture, a made-for-TV film, a television series with further monetary distinctions being provided for if the broadcaster is a network, cable, or internet streaming service. In this regard, the payment is many times made at the start of principal photography of the project.

 

Rights Granted

The primary exclusive rights granted will be those related to the creation and production of an initial motion picture or television program, as well as any allied rights throughout the world or universe. The rights granted will also include the right to produce additional film or television programs based on the composition or original production and will include the rights to use all characters, story lines, dialogue, and scenes.

 

In addition, the producer will receive the right to utilize the composition as the theme to the project (e.g., opening or closing credits) as well as in the project as the producer elects.  Other rights granted include, but may not be limited to, broadcast, transmission, exhibition and distribution, advertising and promotion, merchandise derived from the project and the right to use the title of the composition.

 

Synchronization Fees

If the project goes forward, there will be synchronization fees payable to the music publisher (and songwriter) if the composition is actually utilized in the film or television series. In most cases, the actual fees will be spelled out in the agreement (rather than in a “to be negotiated in good faith” clause) with set dollar amounts on an episode-by-episode basis if a television series and a one-time payment if a motion picture or made-for-TV movie. In context and out-of-context promo uses (such as trailers, advertising, etc.) will also be negotiated.

 

Profit Participation

If the project is a movie or series, there can be profit participation based on the adjusted gross income of the producer. The participation percentage is usually not large (e.g. 2-5%) with an important part of the negotiation being the definition of “adjusted gross” revenue and how it is calculated; an area which is complex and which has created a certain amount of litigation.

 

Television Episode Royalties

In addition to the synchronization fee for each episode using the composition, there will also be a so called “rights fee,” which recognizes the underlying dramatization rights to the composition, for each episode produced and broadcast.

 

Consultancy Fees

In some agreements, the music publisher and/or songwriter may be guaranteed a consultancy fee. For a television series, this would be on an episode basis and for a film, it may be a one-time fee.

 

Spin-Offs, Remakes, Prequels, and Sequels

If there is a spin-off, remake, prequel, or sequel made by the producer, there will be additional fees payable to cover compensation for these additional projects based in some way on the contents of the original production. For example, the purchase price payment, episode rights royalty, and profit participation might be structured between 25% and 50% (but can be more) of the amounts paid for the original project; the actual amount being negotiable, depending on the bargaining power of the parties.

 

Other Clauses

There will also be provisions with respect to assignment, warranties, representations, and indemnities, as well as error and omissions (E&O) coverage for the music publisher and writer under the producer’s policy.

 

Long Form Agreement

 

© 2013 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised 7thedition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business"written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).  See also www.musicandmoney.com

 

Since the initial document is many times a short form agreement (3 to 5 pages), there will be language which provides that the parties intend to negotiate a long form agreement in good faith but with the understanding that the signed short form will be a binding agreement between the parties.

 

 

© 2019 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

Dramatizing a Song Into a Motion Picture or Television Program 

 

 

On occasion, if the story line of a composition is strong, or the subject matter unique, there might be interest by a producer, a third party, or one of the copyright owners to try to turn the song into a motion picture or television production. In these cases, the agreement to secure the necessary rights is usually structured as an option agreement with various payments triggered upon the achievement of certain specified events or criteria. The following will summarize some of the approaches in this area; an area which can be extremely valuable if, in fact, the motion picture or television vehicle is actually produced and commercially distributed.

 

Initial Option Period and Extensions

In most cases, the interested producer (which can be a music publisher or songwriter or other third party who believes in the viability of the project) will receive an option to purchase the necessary motion picture, television, and other ancillary rights for a set amount of money which is normally non-recoupable. This initial period can last for a period of months or years depending on the bargaining power of the parties. The rights granted by the option will be exclusive and will many times be for a period of one year.

 

There will usually be an option to extend the duration of the initial exclusive period for an additional period of time (e.g., six months, one year, etc.) for the payment of an additional fee to the copyright owner of the composition, which is, in most cases, the music publisher. There also may be an additional payment, sometimes called a “setup bonus,” if the owner of the option is able to receive an initial commitment from a film company, television production company, or broadcast / cable entity with such bonus being paid upon commencement of the script or upon the optioning of the “spec script” by a producer or other party.

 

Purchase Price

Once a firm commitment has been secured from a film or television company and the project is going ahead, the producer will exercise its option to acquire the property and will pay the copyright owner(s) of the composition the purchase price.

 

The purchase price will usually be structured with different price points dependent on the type of project going forward. For example, there may be a set price depending on whether the production is a theatrical motion picture, a made-for-TV film, a television series with further monetary distinctions being provided for if the broadcaster is a network, cable, or internet streaming service. In this regard, the payment is many times made at the start of principal photography of the project.

 

Rights Granted

The primary exclusive rights granted will be those related to the creation and production of an initial motion picture or television program, as well as any allied rights throughout the world or universe. The rights granted will also include the right to produce additional film or television programs based on the composition or original production and will include the rights to use all characters, story lines, dialogue, and scenes.

 

In addition, the producer will receive the right to utilize the composition as the theme to the project (e.g., opening or closing credits) as well as in the project as the producer elects.  Other rights granted include, but may not be limited to, broadcast, transmission, exhibition and distribution, advertising and promotion, merchandise derived from the project and the right to use the title of the composition.

 

Synchronization Fees

If the project goes forward, there will be synchronization fees payable to the music publisher (and songwriter) if the composition is actually utilized in the film or television series. In most cases, the actual fees will be spelled out in the agreement (rather than in a “to be negotiated in good faith” clause) with set dollar amounts on an episode-by-episode basis if a television series and a one-time payment if a motion picture or made-for-TV movie. In context and out-of-context promo uses (such as trailers, advertising, etc.) will also be negotiated.

 

Profit Participation

If the project is a movie or series, there can be profit participation based on the adjusted gross income of the producer. The participation percentage is usually not large (e.g. 2-5%) with an important part of the negotiation being the definition of “adjusted gross” revenue and how it is calculated; an area which is complex and which has created a certain amount of litigation.

 

Television Episode Royalties

In addition to the synchronization fee for each episode using the composition, there will also be a so called “rights fee,” which recognizes the underlying dramatization rights to the composition, for each episode produced and broadcast.

 

Consultancy Fees

In some agreements, the music publisher and/or songwriter may be guaranteed a consultancy fee. For a television series, this would be on an episode basis and for a film, it may be a one-time fee.

 

Spin-Offs, Remakes, Prequels, and Sequels

If there is a spin-off, remake, prequel, or sequel made by the producer, there will be additional fees payable to cover compensation for these additional projects based in some way on the contents of the original production. For example, the purchase price payment, episode rights royalty, and profit participation might be structured between 25% and 50% (but can be more) of the amounts paid for the original project; the actual amount being negotiable, depending on the bargaining power of the parties.

 

Other Clauses

There will also be provisions with respect to assignment, warranties, representations, and indemnities, as well as error and omissions (E&O) coverage for the music publisher and writer under the producer’s policy.

 

Long Form Agreement

 

© 2013 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

This article is based on information contained in the new, revised 7thedition of the book "Music, Money, And Success: The Insider's Guide To Making Money In The Music Business"written by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (Published by Schirmer Trade Books/Music Sales).  See also www.musicandmoney.com

 

Since the initial document is many times a short form agreement (3 to 5 pages), there will be language which provides that the parties intend to negotiate a long form agreement in good faith but with the understanding that the signed short form will be a binding agreement between the parties.

 

 

© 2019 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec

Dramatizing a Song Into a Motion Picture or Television Program 

 

 

On occasion, if the story line of a composition is strong, or the subject matter unique, there might be interest by a producer, a third party, or one of the copyright owners to try to turn the song into a motion picture or television production. In these cases, the agreement to secure the necessary rights is usually structured as an option agreement with various payments triggered upon the achievement of certain specified events or criteria. The following will summarize some of the approaches in this area; an area which can be extremely valuable if, in fact, the motion picture or television vehicle is actually produced and commercially distributed.

 

Initial Option Period and Extensions

In most cases, the interested producer (which can be a music publisher or songwriter or other third party who believes in the viability of the project) will receive an option to purchase the necessary motion picture, television, and other ancillary rights for a set amount of money which is normally non-recoupable. This initial period can last for a period of months or years depending on the bargaining power of the parties. The rights granted by the option will be exclusive and will many times be for a period of one year.

 

There will usually be an option to extend the duration of the initial exclusive period for an additional period of time (e.g., six months, one year, etc.) for the payment of an additional fee to the copyright owner of the composition, which is, in most cases, the music publisher. There also may be an additional payment, sometimes called a “setup bonus,” if the owner of the option is able to receive an initial commitment from a film company, television production company, or broadcast / cable entity with such bonus being paid upon commencement of the script or upon the optioning of the “spec script” by a producer or other party.

 

Purchase Price

Once a firm commitment has been secured from a film or television company and the project is going ahead, the producer will exercise its option to acquire the property and will pay the copyright owner(s) of the composition the purchase price.

 

The purchase price will usually be structured with different price points dependent on the type of project going forward. For example, there may be a set price depending on whether the production is a theatrical motion picture, a made-for-TV film, a television series with further monetary distinctions being provided for if the broadcaster is a network, cable, or internet streaming service. In this regard, the payment is many times made at the start of principal photography of the project.

 

Rights Granted

The primary exclusive rights granted will be those related to the creation and production of an initial motion picture or television program, as well as any allied rights throughout the world or universe. The rights granted will also include the right to produce additional film or television programs based on the composition or original production and will include the rights to use all characters, story lines, dialogue, and scenes.

 

In addition, the producer will receive the right to utilize the composition as the theme to the project (e.g., opening or closing credits) as well as in the project as the producer elects.  Other rights granted include, but may not be limited to, broadcast, transmission, exhibition and distribution, advertising and promotion, merchandise derived from the project and the right to use the title of the composition.

 

Synchronization Fees

If the project goes forward, there will be synchronization fees payable to the music publisher (and songwriter) if the composition is actually utilized in the film or television series. In most cases, the actual fees will be spelled out in the agreement (rather than in a “to be negotiated in good faith” clause) with set dollar amounts on an episode-by-episode basis if a television series and a one-time payment if a motion picture or made-for-TV movie. In context and out-of-context promo uses (such as trailers, advertising, etc.) will also be negotiated.

 

Profit Participation

If the project is a movie or series, there can be profit participation based on the adjusted gross income of the producer. The participation percentage is usually not large (e.g. 2-5%) with an important part of the negotiation being the definition of “adjusted gross” revenue and how it is calculated; an area which is complex and which has created a certain amount of litigation.

 

Television Episode Royalties

In addition to the synchronization fee for each episode using the composition, there will also be a so called “rights fee,” which recognizes the underlying dramatization rights to the composition, for each episode produced and broadcast.

 

Consultancy Fees

In some agreements, the music publisher and/or songwriter may be guaranteed a consultancy fee. For a television series, this would be on an episode basis and for a film, it may be a one-time fee.

 

Spin-Offs, Remakes, Prequels, and Sequels

If there is a spin-off, remake, prequel, or sequel made by the producer, there will be additional fees payable to cover compensation for these additional projects based in some way on the contents of the original production. For example, the purchase price payment, episode rights royalty, and profit participation might be structured between 25% and 50% (but can be more) of the amounts paid for the original project; the actual amount being negotiable, depending on the bargaining power of the parties.

 

Other Clauses

There will also be provisions with respect to assignment, warranties, representations, and indemnities, as well as error and omissions (E&O) coverage for the music publisher and writer under the producer’s policy.

 

Long Form Agreement

Since the initial document is many times a short form agreement (3 to 5 pages), there will be language which provides that the parties intend to negotiate a long form agreement in good faith but with the understanding that the signed short form will be a binding agreement between the parties.

 

 

© 2019 Jeff Brabec, Todd Brabec