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Lorenzo13

"Clearing" songs for sync licensing etc.

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It took me a long time to commit to doing it, but I am presently motivated to license songs I've recorded over nearly 40 years. When I watch youtube videos about what music supervisors are looking for, I keep hearing the word "clearance" as in they won't touch your song unless they feel confident no one involved in your projects is going to jump out of the bushes and suddenly make a claim for a piece of the action. Except they don't tell you all the steps you have to go through to make sure your song is clear.

 

in my case, there aren't any written agreements with people who have been hired as session musicians through the years although they were definitely paid for their parts and really have no valid interest in further renumeration. There are a finite number of these players, maybe a dozen at most, and most of them were pros who I would not expect to contest anything. There are no record companies involved or publishing companies involved. The only real "band members" are my buddy and myself, and he can vouch that no one else has any expectation of future earnings from laying down a part or two here and there.

 

I'm asking here cause there's a really good previous discussion about session musicians although it was from 2012 here: http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/Music_Bus/acapella-13/121672-33209025.

 

That discussion encompasses a lot of info about whether or not you should written agreements with session players and what types they should be. What it doesn't discuss is what to do retroactively about someone who appeared on your song 30 years ago ... and how much music supervisors care or don't care about me hunting these players down and getting them to assign me rights from a song they played on back in the day.

 

If anyone can shed any light on the steps I should take to avoid problems with a music supervisor liking my song but having fears about clearance, I'm all ears!

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I wouldn't worry about things recorded thirty years ago, and if everyone involved was a 'pro', and got paid, then it was a known work for hire.

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Oh, and the other main thing I'm struggling to understand is how someone who played tambourine on a song legally has equal rights to performance rights in the absence of an agreement assigning his rights. As in is this really enforced by courts? Is there really no burden of proof required to prevail if the tambourine player initiated a suit like that? Is there really example after example of people hired to play on a song who were paid for it suing for equal rights and winning in court? Seems like some common sense should be involved. And how this all relates or does not relate to what music supervisors care about.

Edited by Lorenzo13

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[this is strictly my opinion, as I am NOT a lawyer]

 

You can sue anyone for anything, but the burden of proof is on the one suing. And there are few examples of people winning copyright rights [for form SR] for having played on a recording, unless they can prove that their contribution went beyond the normal expectations for a 'hired gun' instrumentalist.

Consider if the song itself had no 'hook', and a hired gun created the 'hook' on the spot and it became the 'key' recognizable feature of the recorded version of the song, they might have a potential case for additional remuneration. It would be up to the court to determine how important the musicians' contribution to the 'value' of the recording is...and I don't know for certain how often that may occur, but I doubt it is a significant percentage of all the litigated 'crybaby' suits.

 

If you are really this concerned, I suggest you discuss this with an entertainment lawyer.

Edited by daddymack

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You can sue anyone for anything, but the burden of proof is on the one suing. And there are few examples of people winning copyright rights [for form SR] for having played on a recording, unless they can prove that their contribution went beyond the normal expectations for a 'hired gun' instrumentalist.

 

If you are really this concerned, I suggest you discuss this with an entertainment lawyer.

An entertainment lawyer is who put the fear of god in me about this. While there is some common sense in legal proceedings and, as you said, you'd think the burden of proof would be on whoever brought the suit, but the letter of the law is that in the absence of a written agreement assigning rights to whoever is paying for a session, everyone who played on the recording has equal rights.

 

I'm less concerned with following the letter of the letter than making sure my songs are "clear" enough for music supervisors to license.

 

Also, I'm not sure which piece of the pie the session tambourine player were he/she to sue and win would get. Seems like ASCAP/BMI/SESAC pay writers and publishers, not session musicians. If anyone knows, please do tell!

 

 

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Your other option, of course, is to re-record these songs and make sure the proper documentation is in place. Just a thought.

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