As a producer, thinking about your legals is likely the least exciting part of your job. But it’s probably something you think about more than you want to!
That’s because the legal side of what you do can have such a big impact on the commercial side.
When you’re creating music, film or other creative works in collaboration with other creatives, there are a range of legal issues that come into play and impact how you run your business.
One of the biggest things you should be thinking about is intellectual property ownership — but there’s also things like payment, deadlines, liability protections, deliverables and confidentiality to consider.
The easiest way to cover yourself is normally to put in place a Producer Agreement.
What Is A Producer Agreement?
A Producer Agreement is pretty much what it sounds like! It’s a legal contract between a producer and their clients.
It sets out the terms and conditions under which a product will create music, film or other creative works for their clients. It can be something clients sign at the start of each project, or it can be more like an ongoing retainer.
In any case, a Producer Agreement is best when it’s signed before you start working with anyone, so that everyone has clear expectations about their position moving forward.
What’s Included In A Producer Agreement?
The specific contents of a Producer Agreement vary depending on exactly what kind of work you’re doing.
However, a standard agreement typically includes clauses like:
- Scope of services: What services will the producer provide? What exactly is included and what is excluded?
- Liability protections: Who is responsible if things go wrong?
- Intellectual property ownership: Who owns the intellectual property in the final deliverable? And who owns all the IP used before and after the project?
- Payment and late payment: How much will the producer get paid? How will they get paid (e.g. is it a one off payment or is it in royalties?)? And what happens if the client doesn’t pay or pays late?
- Confidentiality: Is there anything that needs to be kept confidential between the parties?
- Term and termination: How long does the contract go for? How do you get out of it?
Producer Agreement Example
Shae is an electronic music producer. He does a lot of work with his friend, Grace, who is a professional singer. Recently, Grace recorded vocals for a new song and sent it to Shae, asking him to collaborate on the music and produce it for her.
Shae agrees, as long as he owns the IP in the music while Grace owns the IP in the lyrics. They sign a Producer Agreement, which covers other matters like timing, payment and confidentiality.
At the end of the project, Shae and Grace release the song and it’s a huge success. Grace approaches Shae, saying that she should be getting paid more for the song’s success because it was her idea in the first place. Shae shows her the agreement they signed, and they have a candid discussion about what they originally agreed on and why.
In the end, Grace confirms that she still agrees with the original contract they signed, and they decide to pursue another project together off the back of their recent success.
Need Help With A Producer Agreement?
Having a properly drafted Producer Agreement is really important – it helps set your expectations with your clients, secures your payments and protects your intellectual property and other legal risks. However, if you don’t have legal experience it can be hard to know whether you’ve got it right.
Having a lawyer help you draft a legally sound Producer Agreement will give you clarity around your engagement, and also relieve you from the stresses associated with the legal side of the business so you can focus on what you love to do!
At Sprintlaw, we have a team of experienced lawyers who can assist you with drafting a Producer Agreement. Get in contact with one of our consultants for a no-obligation chat on how we can help you put together a Producer Agreement and help with any other legal issues your business may have.
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