Performers Rights From A Labels Standpoint

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
Post Reply
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:04 pm

Performers Rights From A Labels Standpoint

Post by copyrighthelp »

Hi All,

Would really appreciate any & all help on this.

A friend recorded a vocalist improvising. They gave me the file & verbal permission to have it, make a track with it, then pay them 20% of income. This now needs to be on paper. Is it right to think this is in two stages?:

1. Assignment Of Copyrights: both Song (music & lyrics) and Sound Recording, signed by both parties on individual contracts.

2. Because Performers' rights cannot be assigned, I (as a label) need an exclusive license from them (excluding Performing Rights Organisations) to manufacture, distribute, make available etc, for life of copyright. That the only remuneration they are legally entitled to for this is from PPL as performers, and as a label, they're not entitled to share on record sales, sync, videos, or dubbing rights.

We're all in the UK, and the recording was done here also.

User avatar
Posts: 2906
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Post by AndyJ »

Hi CopyrightHelp,
This is a very complicated area as it involves several individuals and lots of different rights. Failure to get it right in any contract will only cause grief later.
Unfortunately I am not at all clear exactly what you want to do. Also some of your terminology may be confused. For example the songwriter does not need (nor would it be in their interests) to assign copyright to you.
As the friend made the recording of the performance, ordinarily he will be deemed to be the producer (and thus the owner of the copyright in the sound recording, unless other provisions applied at the time) and he should already have the requisite permissions to use the song and to record the performance. If you are now acting as the distributor (the label in your terminology) then your principal contract is with the producer, and secondarily with the artist concerning their property rights. A contract between an artist and a record label may also need to include additional benefits to the artist such as promotion, a guaranteed number of album or single releases during the period of the contract and so on, as well as royalties, in exchange for signing over some or all of their property rights.
But these are all complicated arrangements which require the services of a solicitor who specialises in the music industry. Take a look here and here to gain an idea of what is involved.
If you really want to do this yourself (against my advice) then take a look at these boilerplate agreements:
Acquisition agreement (music)
Agreement for master licence (music)
Agreement for record producer
Recording contract for single record
and see if you can make them work.
But remember that a contract which is unenforceable due to glaring deficiencies is worse than no contract. (see here for some of the many cases which come to court)
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Post Reply