Do's and Don'ts
DO retain your Writer's share!
DO submit your cue sheets
A cue sheet is a list of all the music and songs used in a film and television production. Unless you or the producers submit this list to APRA you will not be paid your royalties. Make sure that the details of each musical work matches your registrations. More info here
DO register your musical works
Your works must be registered with APRA for you to receive royalties. Learn more here
DO limit or try to negotiate the lowest percentage given to your publisher / production company
Remember that the maximum a publisher is entitled to is 50% of your overall public performance royalties. If you don't ask to retain more of your publishing, you won't get it! Historically in Australia it is not routine to hand over your publishing rights. Don't forget that that unless you have a publisher you are automatically entitled to the entire so-called 'Publisher's share' of the royalties. More information here.
DO negotiate respectfully
Ideal negotiations result in both parties getting at least some measure of what they want. Compromise is part of negotiations, but there is almost always a way to get to “yes” if your client respects you and what you can bring to their project. If you are making concessions, being reasonable and respectful, you will likely find the same approach reciprocated by your client and collaborator. If not, you have to consider if this is a commission worth accepting, or a relationship worth building.
DO look after yourself
DON'T sign something you don't fully understand
Talk to fellow composers. Ask advice! Learn what is and isn't standard industry practise. Examine standard contracts. If, for example, you don't know the difference between the Music and the Master, publishing and sync licenses then educate yourself. Read our Resources pages. Contact fellow Guild members. Above all, seek the advice of a specialist entertainment lawyer when considering contract wording.
DON'T agree to a reduction in working conditions or the loss of further rights such as copyrights or publishing without getting something in return!
DON’T agree to a buyout, work-for-hire, or direct license agreement without speaking to a qualified lawyer first and without negotiating a significant increase in your upfront fee
These types of agreements are not standard industry practise in Australia, and our low upfront fees reflect the rights that historically we have retained. If giving up these rights is non-negotiable then be sure you receive a significant increase to your upfront fee to adequately compensate you for the loss of these rights. If you are an AGSC member contact us for more information and speak to an experienced entertainment lawyer able to assist you with your contract negotiations. If you are an APRA member, contact APRA for more information to ensure that your agreement is not in breach of your APRA membership.