Licensing your drum tracks?

brentcn

Platinum Member
Granted, most studio session contracts are work-for-hire agreements, where the performer releases all claims to the recorded material in exchange for pay, but has anyone signed a contract in which you, as the performer, retained some rights to the material, and determine how the material gets used in the future?

Some musicians and I have been hired by a wedding/function band company to record well-known songs, to be used as promotional material on the company's website. We're trying to ensure that the recorded tracks are ONLY used for those purposes, and NOT to create "backing tracks" for bands. So, we'll be needing to retain some rights (ownership) of the recorded material, which probably means some form of a synchronization license.

Any lawyerly drummers on here that can help?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Simplest way to ensure that is to provide excerpts of your songs, the same way iTunes presents only an excerpt of what they want you to buy.

Bermuda
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
By and large, drum tracks cannot be copyrighted because of the "non melodic" nature of them. However I tend to disagree, but it's really hard to copyright a drum bit.

I give a bunch of stuff away and when someone wants to use it commercially I have them make a donation at billraydrums.com (I have a box they can enter an amount and it takes them to PayPal and they can complete the transaction).

http://ccmixter.org/people/BillRayDrums
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Granted, most studio session contracts are work-for-hire agreements, where the performer releases all claims to the recorded material in exchange for pay, but has anyone signed a contract in which you, as the performer, retained some rights to the material, and determine how the material gets used in the future?

Any lawyerly drummers on here that can help?
Yes, and Yes.

My advice is to speak to an attorney who specializes in copyright law and the entertainment industry.

The crux of what he will tell you is: While your drum beats are not typically covered by copyright, your recordings and recorded performances are. There are a couple scenarios to look out for:

1: WFH - The copyright is held to the entity that hired you.
2: You do something dumb, like upload your work to Youtube, and surrender your rights via a license agreement that you didn't read or comprehend.

For self study, there's a fair amount of information at Bitlaw.

http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/index.html
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Simplest way to ensure that is to provide excerpts of your songs, the same way iTunes presents only an excerpt of what they want you to buy.

Bermuda
That probably wouldn't be enough. An excerpt could be used to create a backing track. No one cares if the company makes backing tracks on their own, just not with my content. The other players want this same arrangement regarding their recorded content.

By and large, drum tracks cannot be copyrighted because of the "non melodic" nature of them. However I tend to disagree, but it's really hard to copyright a drum bit.
No one is trying to copyright a song (especially since the copyrights of the songs are already owned by various artists/labels/publishing companies). We're only interested in owning the physical recording of the tracks, not the song itself -- the mechanical rights, not the publishing rights.

Yes, and Yes.

My advice is to speak to an attorney who specializes in copyright law and the entertainment industry.

The crux of what he will tell you is: While your drum beats are not typically covered by copyright, your recordings and recorded performances are. There are a couple scenarios to look out for:

1: WFH - The copyright is held to the entity that hired you.
2: You do something dumb, like upload your work to Youtube, and surrender your rights via a license agreement that you didn't read or comprehend.

For self study, there's a fair amount of information at Bitlaw.

http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/index.html
Obviously, we're trying to avoid scenario #1, because we would relinquish all claim to the recorded material.

Thanks for the link!
 
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