This episode was previously published in the Profitable Musician Show.
In this episode, Eric Farber from Creator Legal talks to us about contracts. It is definitely important but is mostly neglected by indie artists until it turns out that we need to pay attention to it.
He was a sports and entertainment lawyer for 20 years. He did a lot of work with big names in the music industry, particularly in the rap world such as Tupac Shakur Estate.
His team describes Creator Legal as “One-click contracts for creators,” but an “entertainment lawyer in a box” as they were described by Daily Variety is pretty accurate. They are a DIY online service where you can find contacts for all kinds of creators — whether you’re an indie filmmaker, a musician, an author, you’re in live theater, web series, podcasters, etc. They have about 120 contracts, where you can purchase a single contract or a subscription. They have a form builder which makes things so simple, you can have a contract done in 6 minutes. They also have Project Briefcase, where people can store all their contracts for different projects they are working on. They’re all digitized. Once you build the contract, you can send it to the other person’s email. Once they click it open, they can sign it and it’s done.
The idea came from Eric’s friend, Ron Welty, who was the drummer of The Offspring for many years. For Eric, the band has a claim to fame as the highest-selling indie band of all time. Ron has a studio at his house and he’s like, “I never get anything signed because people come over, and then by the time we know, we’ve cut a song and we didn’t realize that this was going to happen.” That came from him like, “What if we’re all sitting in a room?” I said, “Jump on and get a done.”
Sampling was common in the rap world, especially in the 90s. This is one of the things they help with. It’s either you sampled it or not. If you took something else, you’ve got to have a license for it. Nowadays, there are a lot of beats. You’ve got to have it since you do not know when a song is going to blow up.
Usually, people would come in, either they want to sue or they are being sued because a song went really well. However, they do not have any contract to prove anything. Usually, lawyers are expensive. What they did is create something that is really accessible for creators.
They have an indie music package, that includes artist management, and has a single song collab contract. They also have sync licenses, mechanical rights licenses, side artist recording agreements, or featured artist recording agreements. They have master use licenses and beats licenses. It also gives the ability to do royalty splits within the contracts as well. A studio should have a contract for you and these are musician-centered contracts. For things that are not specifically music-related such as album art, etc., they have graphics and social media for your online presence.
People are afraid of contracts but they shouldn’t be. It makes sure the parties are all on the same page. Be afraid of someone who doesn’t want to sign a contract. If you’re a singer-songwriter or a musician and you want it under your name and you want total ownership, you must have a contract with anybody who touches it in the creation of it or they will have rights to the copyright. That’s the basics. Copyright is the right to copy, to make more, and to exploit it. You want to have all of that copyright together.
Too much stuff gets shelved and you can’t bring it out unless you’ve got these things done properly and that’s an important piece that I think that a lot of people ignore is that if they don’t get contracts done. There is stuff that can sit on the shelf. Make sure you’ve got the legal stuff in the music industry because you never know what’s going to happen to you.
You can find all these at CreatorsLegal.com. Use coupon BREE75 to get 75% off the annual subscription.