A friend recently sent me this post from Craigslist. See if you can point out the one major flaw in this person’s offer:
I’m a video producer working on advertising media for a new, young company that makes wearable digital sports cameras — small cams that fit in a durable housing and are attached to helmets, wristbands, etc., and are specifically designed for surfers, snowboarders, bikers, racers, bungee jumpers, any crazy athletic person out there. It’s a very cool product and has started to attract lots of young people.
I’m looking for music segments to pair with the footage these athletic users have shot and donated for promotional use. What I’m looking for in music pieces:
- AIFF format (the highest quality)
- 2 to 5 minutes long
- adrenaline music (I’m kinda old, but Propellerheads comes to mind), also good old rock
- can be completely computer-generated by one person or generated by a group with instruments
- looking to communicate excitement and “in the zone” mood (but needs to engage, not alienate)
- no lyrics needed
- can’t be samples of existing copyrighted music but 100% original (imperative!)
Who you might be: somebody who noodles around with music, comes up with cool/energetic/meandering riffs and pieces, looking for a creative outlet.
What I can offer: what will probably be national exposure if this campaign takes off, and we’d give an MTV-style credit with band name/music piece/website info. Also a camera (worth about $200).
The downside: We want to own the music in perpetuity and there’s no money.
Find the flaw? He even prefaced it with a hint (“The downside”). He wants you to transfer all your rights to the song for the princely sum of ZERO. Well, you would get a gimmicky camera and… credit. But please, everyone, never transfer your rights to someone else for a penny less than what it deserves. And that is going to be greater than zero. Probably much greater.
The poster did seem to indicate the gig was aimed more toward hobbyists but even hobbyists should be compensated for their time and talent. If they think the music is worth using in their national campaign, then the music is worth paying for. Both professional and hobbyist musicians, never transfer for your rights to your music for anything less than an adequate sum up front. Royalties are acceptable for people to use your music in their work, but not for transferring rights.
If you think getting the exposure is good enough, then fine. That’s a risk that could pan out. But, again, there is no need to transfer your rights. That is an outright scam. Once they have the rights, they can do whatever they want with the music. And all that possible profit will not find its way to the music’s creator. That is simply unfair. And it’s disrespectful to musicians to insinuate we would be happy to hand over our music’s rights just for the chance of getting a little exposure.
Anyway, be careful out there. Always keep in mind your work is worth something and don’t settle for any bad deal.
I just found out that Alexander Courage died last month on May 15. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Star Trek theme he composed. His music really captured the spirit of that show, exotic and moving (and firmly planted in the 60′s).
Unfortunately, whenever I think of Courage I also think of how rough the music business and show biz in general can be. He didn’t know what he was getting into with the original Star Trek but he composed one of his best works and was entitled to his share of the success the show would later achieve. I’m sure everyone would agree about that… except the creator of the show, Gene Roddenberry. Turns out Roddenberry was a sly one and wanted his share of the music royalty pie. He slapped some lyrics on the music after Courage finished writing it and then, because of the royalty rules, he was instantly entitled to 50% of the royalties the music would receive. The lyrics just add SO much:
Beyond the rim of the starlight,
my love is wand’ring in star flight.
I know he’ll find
In star clustered reaches
Love, strange love
A starwoman teaches.
I know his journey ends never.
His Star Trek will go on forever.
But tell him while
He wanders his starry sea,
Roddenberry claims to have had a handshake and later written agreement from Courage to do this, but Courage would of course claim this was completely unfair. And it was. But I guess the lesson here is to be very careful about contracts you sign. It’s common practice now to sign 100% of your game music over to the company you’re working for. Yes, that’s extremely unfair. You worked hard on that music and you’re entitled to its rewards. Let’s hope the game industry and show biz both aim for more fairness. It won’t happen if we don’t actively pursue it.
Qapla’, Alexander Courage.