In the case of a film score music agreement, a distinction must first be made as to whether a film composer is to be commissioned specifically to create the music and / or whether existing recordings are to be used. Often both alternatives are combined.
1.) Film Score Composer Agreement
In the case of commissioned music, a Film Score Composer Agreement is concluded with the composer. A number of agreements are made in this contract, e.g. length of the music to be created, deadlines, acceptance of the work, remuneration and the transfer of rights. As far as remuneration is concerned, it is generally recommended that half of the remuneration is owed even if the work is not accepted. This is because more often than assumed, the composer and director part ways before completion. If no remuneration is provided for this case, one can argue long and hard about the amount. The remuneration should also be in proportion to the rights transferred. So-called “buy-outs”, i.e. the fixing of a lump-sum fee, are common. This usually includes the remuneration of GEMA for the use of the music in the film. GEMA offers composers the opportunity to exercise their rights in this respect themselves. The consequence of this is that the exploiters do not have to make any additional GEMA payments, since they make the agreement with the composer directly. The situation is different for the later use of the music as a soundtrack. Here, the exploiter must pay GEMA in any case, since a rights recall is practically impossible here. Contractually, an additional sales-related remuneration is possible for soundtrack exploitation.
2.) Music licence agreement
When using existing recordings, one also speaks simply of a “music licence agreement”. It should be noted here that one must obtain both the rights to the recording itself and the rights of the corresponding author(s). The rights to the recording are usually held by a record company. The rights of the authors are usually held by the music publishers. If the record company and the music publisher are under the same “umbrella” (e.g. Warner Music as label and Warner Chappel as publisher), obtaining the rights is not quite as problematic. Some publishers are able to conclude contracts for the rights of the record company or at least know how to name an appropriate contact person. If the publisher and the record company have little or nothing to do with each other, it can be difficult to find the rights holders. In the worst case, this can mean that you cannot use a recording because of a lack of rights.
If you have any questions about the film music contract or other issues, I will be happy to advise you. It is not necessary for you to come to my office for this. You can send me your request in advance by e-mail (also with attachments). I will then make you a non-binding offer for a mandate and, if necessary, contact you by telephone. A mandate only comes into effect when the mandate is issued in writing.