I’ve always felt that owning the copyrights to your own music was golden as there are many advantages and the payoff can be substantial. As an example: If you have success as a composer and years down the road you want to “cash out” and sell to a larger company, owning a catalog of your copyrights can potentially mean a big pay day. BTW this is done all the time.
Recently I was offered an exclusive deal with a three year term, 50/50 sync fee, 50/50 PRO income and a reversion clause IF the earned income did not exceed $300 in PRO money and/or sync fees. If that threshold was crossed, the library would own the song/cue in perpetuity. In essence they would own the copyright forever. I had worked with this library in the past with informal exclusive and non-exclusive deals and some decent placements were made. Based on my past experience with them I was willing to give it a try with a higher dollar threshold. I countered their offer but that was rejected so I passed on the deal. No harm no foul but if I was going to run the risk of losing a copyright the payoff had to be larger for me.
Now any one particular song/cue could cross the threshold and go on to make huge sums of money, fizzle out or end up somewhere in between. Of course it might never cross the threshold and you would get your song back after three years. It’s a crap shoot. Many smaller music libraries offer a similar deal with the same basic terms but NO income threshold. In other words there is NO option for them to own the copyright. This allows you to continue on with that company if you are happy with their performance or cancel the agreement after the contract period. In my opinion a much fairer deal, at least for the state of the library business today.
What’s in it for a library to own your copyright in the way that was offered to me? One aspect is to build a catalog of copyrights with no out of pocket costs. Get enough composers to sign on and they can quickly build a catalog of copyrights. As I mentioned above, owning copyrights is where the real power lies. I’m not faulting the company for offering this as everyone has a right to run their business as they see fit and it’s a smart business move on their part. But we all should be aware of the implications of giving up a copyright.
So… How much money would you accept to give up your copyright to a song/cue?