Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pitfalls in Single Song Agreements

To continue my series of songwriter contract posts, I thought it would be helpful to discuss some of the pitfalls a songwriter might encounter when entering into a single song agreement.

As I stated last week, a single song agreement is the sale of a song or songs (in spite of the name, single song agreements can be for more than a single song) that are already written. Therefore, a single song agreement should contain a list of the title or titles of the song or songs that are governed by the agreement; this is the no-brainer part of these agreements and usually does not pose a problem. The corollary pitfall, however, is often not as easy to spot in a multi-page legal contract.

This corollary pitfall is usually found in a words like option, term, and exclusive. If a single song agreement is the transfer of songs that have already been composed, there should not be any options for yet-to-be-composed songs or songs that are not specifically enumerated in the agreement or addendum. It, therefore, seems to clearly follow that there should not be a term (the word "term" in the world of legal contracts refers to the length of time a contract lasts) or options for additional songs. Lastly, there should never be any language in the agreement that would make the songwriter's services provided exclusively to the publisher.