Work for Hire agreement with added viral clause

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    Hello folks, hope all are well.

    Can I ask your view on a current situation I have please?

    I have a guy with a fairly successful YouTube platform who I am in a discussion with about creating simple orchestral cover song instrumentals that will then have vocals added after I hand them over.

    Likely just quartet backing track arrangements of commercial songs designed to have lead vocals, using software rather than real recordings.

    We agreed on a fee of $350 on work-for-hire basis, however I requested a clause that would give me a small percentage of any revenue should the cover version become successful, or in the unlikely event viral.

    I suggested a clause that would have very high metrics before the split would become active.

    The answer I got back was a hard ‘no’ – citing that they do not ask to split any losses made, so, therefore, no profits either.

    I find this pretty unreasonable, and I’m not going to proceed.

    I would suggest a higher upfront fee, but I sense that this is not negotiable either.

    Warm regards,



    You could always agree to some kind of recouping where you split some of the expenses? Maybe that would soften them up. Otherwise, just ask for a really good fee, a kind of ‘FO’ fee, something you would feel comfortable working at but otherwise happy to walk away from.


    Thank you Mark, good idea – however it boils down to 2 options. Take the fee and never see a future split, or walk away.

    I was wondering if my asking for a clause that means a split of income ‘IF’ the song version were to become successful was unreasonable???

    The metrics can be high, and the percentage low, I just wanted to cover myself however unlikely.

    I have worked on a few remixes that went on to be hugely popular, and never saw an additional penny past the original remix fee. Similar situation to cover off here.


    If it is for YouTube, and registered with Identifyy, and does go viral, you’ll get paid. I have a track in a viral Youtube video that earns low 4 figures monthly.


    Thank you Alan, would that be true for a cover song?

    Which was the case with this situation before I bailed.


    Hi MM ,

    Writer/publisher royalties of any kind for cover songs only go to the original writers and publishers. That includes for youtube. 🙂




    Hi Michèle,

    Of course, I am well aware of that I was just responding to Alan, who it seems missed that it was for a cover song.



    🙂 Gotcha Matt! Terrific!



    I actually agree with the person who was hiring you. The whole idea of a WFH is one fee, they own everything, and you get no additional royalties or payments of any kind.

    Keep in mind that the WFH contract *might* have to be shown to others that the client is working with and any encumbrance on rights, ownership, future liabilities, etc. can be a show stopper for them. They could end up involved in a lawsuit, for example. I’ve seen music libraries refuse songs if the WFH agreement had any other obligations of any kind.

    So if you’re not comfortable with that price and nothing else, you can see if you can get a higher fee. But it should be a once and done thing. Take it or leave it.


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