BEATS FOR LEASE?
Hey Biz Talkers! It is now a common practice in the music industry for up and coming producers to lease their beats to up and coming recording artists. This is because new producers want to earn money while gaining more publicity for their work in the industry, and artists want to place their vocals over quality music without breaking their budget for recording costs. So, the beat lease agreement provides for a new recording to be made which combines the artist’s lyrics and vocals with the already produced music “beat” created by the producer at a reasonable cost for the artist. So what should you know before signing a beat lease agreement?
The lease agreement must have a term (a length of time that the lease lasts). This is negotiable but it is not uncommon for the term to be, for example, 2 or 3 years and be limited to a certain number of uses of the beat (sales or streams), say 1,000 downloads or equivalent streams. You have to know what can be done or not done with the beat when it is leased (also known as the scope of the agreement). Basically, the lease agreement will allow an artist to do whatever they want to do with the beat so long as a new track is created (one that contains vocals over the music beat). The lease agreement must also have a “Territory” (where the beat can be used). The lease should allow for worldwide use of the beat especially in today’s digital worlds where limits to use only in certain countries really isn’t practical.
The lease agreement should discuss publishing (ownership of the newly created song). Ideally, since the producer provides the music and the artist provides the vocals, the ownership of the song rights should be split 50-50 as the producer and artist have jointly created a new song, and are deemed to be co-owners of that song. A producer should make sure that they receive proper credit as the producer in all publicity for the song (in ads, liner notes, back of CD’s, etc.) An artist will want to make sure they are not sued for accidentally failing to credit the producer and should have a right to “cure” (an amount of time to give proper credit to the producer before they can sue the artist for failing to provide a producer credit. The agreement must state how much of the beat is given to the artist. Ideally, the producer should provide a WAV file (as opposed to an mp3) with complete stems attached to the beat. “Stems” are individual tracks that are the elements of the music beat (the piano, guitar, drum, etc.). Complete stems with a WAV file will insure that the artist is getting a quality track that can be easily mixed into a high quality finished song.
Finally, the agreement must include the rights that are being granted over the beat when it is given to the artist. If the beat is non- exclusive, multiple artists can use the beat along with the artist named in the lease. If the agreement is exclusive, only the artist to that lease agreement with the producer has a right to use the beat for the stated term of the agreement. It should be noted that even if the beat is exclusive it is subject to any non-exclusive uses of the beat that took place prior to the exclusive agreement being made. With this being the case, an artist should place language in the agreement stating that the producer fully owns the beat will indemnify (compensate) the artist in the event someone sues them for the use of the beat. Until next time,long live the beats!!!