Rights to multi-track masters

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Rights to multi-track masters

Postby Sheer Noise » Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:39 pm

Hi guys,

I'm in an interesting situation and thought I'd get some industry advice to see if it saves me the hassle of a lawyer, at least initially.

The band I used to be in made three albums at my studio. Due to a falling out with an inept lead (female) singer, the band has kind of gone two seperate ways, with the three longest serving members banding together and deciding to do other stuff. We own the band name, so it won't be used again, but the singer wants to use any momemtum built up by the third album sales to launch something new. Part of that is getting some remixes done of singles from that album.

The rights to the songs are owned equally by the four writers, three of which have left the "group".

BUT... what happens to the rights to have access to the multi-track masters. Are the physical recordings (tapes and files on HDD's) the equal property of all four writers as well, or do they remain property of the studio?

It's an interesting question.... I was never given any money for the albums, having been a writer and performer with the band I figured we wouldn't get to this kind of situation easily... but I think it might get ugly... she's being a real diva about it.

Any thoughts?

Noise
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Postby Jason » Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:13 pm

I know this is no help but we work on the theory of, if they have paid in full for the session, the files are theirs. If its on 2inch tape and they don't wont to buy the tape, then we dump it across to hard disk and burn a dvd for a small fee.

But because you worked for free, I'm not sure. I guess in theory the files are still theirs bcause you chose to work for nothing. Not sure.

cheers

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Postby chris p » Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:23 pm

Yeerch - There's sooo many issues raised in your post - who can use the name of the band for marketing, who owns the masters, who owns what part of the songs, who can use what parts of the songs - and from the sounds of it, the documentation on all this is a bit on the short side.

This is one where I would go off to a lawyer, particularly one that gives the first 15mins free. That said, do the preproduction thing - get what documents do exist together for a start - your ex-band pals might assist here.

The other thing is to make sure you know what you want to achieve. Do you actually mind her using the old band name in the context of "I was the lead singer of XXXX"? If not, don't fight about it. If the issue of the remixes is royalties, what deal do you actually want from the singer, or do you want to stop her entirely (and why?).

My gut instinct (and its no more than this) is that you own the physical masters (you bought the blank media and no-one has bought it from you), copyright in the songs is owned by the writers (which may allow any of them to record it), and copyright in the recorded performance is owned by the ex-band. The ex-band is, it seems, a disbanded partnership with undistributed assets. If you had management, distribution or record deals at the time, there's layers of complication added on top. And anything in writing you do have can change all that anyway.

What needs to happen is for the ex-band to be dissolved in a more formal way, so its clear who can do what, and how much they have to pay someone else for the priviledge! This doesn't need to go to court, but it will involve lawyers, so my advice is to get onto it, the sooner the better.
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Re: Rights to multi-track masters

Postby Linear » Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:40 pm

Sheer Noise wrote:Hi guys,

I'm in an interesting situation and thought I'd get some industry advice to see if it saves me the hassle of a lawyer, at least initially.

The band I used to be in made three albums at my studio. Due to a falling out with an inept lead (female) singer, the band has kind of gone two seperate ways, with the three longest serving members banding together and deciding to do other stuff. We own the band name, so it won't be used again, but the singer wants to use any momemtum built up by the third album sales to launch something new. Part of that is getting some remixes done of singles from that album.

The rights to the songs are owned equally by the four writers, three of which have left the "group".

BUT... what happens to the rights to have access to the multi-track masters. Are the physical recordings (tapes and files on HDD's) the equal property of all four writers as well, or do they remain property of the studio?

It's an interesting question.... I was never given any money for the albums, having been a writer and performer with the band I figured we wouldn't get to this kind of situation easily... but I think it might get ugly... she's being a real diva about it.

Any thoughts?

Noise


OK I can check with my mate who is an entertainment lawyer, but this is my understanding.

The songs themselves are treated separately to the mechanical recording. The mechanical recording itself remains under the ownership of whoever paid for the recording to take place. if it was done at your studio, and no money was given to you by the band to make the recording (assuming you wore all the costs incurred) then you own the recording.

however, your right to use that recording depends on the members that performed on it, and the songs (which are under a separate copyright) that were played. You will need to get some kind of licensing agreement to be able to exploit them, which is not easy if people aren't talking.

in reality, unless people want to start spending money on lawyers the old 'posession is 9/10's of the law' is probably the go. if you have posession of the files or tapes and she doesn't, she will have to prove that she personally paid for them and will have to put a claim on them in court. since that probably won't happen (it will cost lots of $$$) just make sure you keep them safe.

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Postby Sheer Noise » Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:04 am

thanks everyone. Thought I'd address a couple of things to make clear what the real hassles are...

Don't mind the singer using the songs or saying she's the singer from "xxa", my concern is that I'm going to be pushed to hand over all of the master/multitrack material that was made by me at my expense in my studio for free. If I have a leg to stand on, I'll be able to recoup some of the costs...

I understand royalties are a different matter, and thankfully we're all agreed on where and how they should be paid for future income after the band splits. The major issue is handing everything over for nothing and then having the "off-shoot" band cash in on my tracks!

We'll see how it pans out - if anyone has anything else to add, feel free. It's a bit of a mess, and quite frankly, I'm over it - but don't want to shoot myself (or anyone in the band - including singer!!!) in the foot.

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Postby davemc » Tue Feb 21, 2006 8:51 am

Really its hard.
If your worried more in re-couping something as the orginal recording was free. Work out what it would of cost ballpark. Then either ask for a cut or something in between.
Or add a some points for each sale if it actually does anything.
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Postby Mark Bassett » Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:51 pm

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Postby chris p » Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:15 pm

That doesn't sound too bad, then.

If the concern is only with the masters and tracking files/media, I'd hang onto them until someone shows you why they don't belong to you. From what you've described, I'd say you're in the box seat. They can always buy them from you at a negotiated cost (and/or royalty and/or sleeve credit) and on the understanding that all the other rights (copyright in the music, lyrics and performance) need to be negotiated separately (which, according to your last post, has already been done).

Good luck with it.
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Postby rick » Thu Feb 23, 2006 11:09 am

dave

it seems to me you own the actual masters and the right to release & use them for anything at all is what is in dispute amonst the bunch of you
so given that.
you have the swaying vote no masters - no product !


that said, chill out , let her do as she pleases, make absolute binding agreements about the use of the masters ( how you want the credits written etc etc ) and remember that 99% of what gets released never makes any money , so your probably getting stressed over a 100/1 deal
so it means you did a bunch of work for free ...?
well we have all done that ..

if you havent been able to make the records stick after all this time and all that work maybe its time to chalk it up to experience and move on.

being able to react instinctively is what seperates the stars from the rest of the space junk...

if shes got it then your work will go rewarded somewhere down the line
if not then..... your stress could be better used on something else
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Postby chris p » Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:09 pm

A "Tania Turkey" hey Rick? ;-)
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Postby rick » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:41 am

geez i am going to get into trouble over that last at article

no i dont thionk this is a case of a turkey is it dave ..?, just some good stuff gone sour
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Postby NYMo » Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:02 pm

Rick,

I used to be American Dave Andersons boss at the *guitar store*(Brashs 244 Pitt St).

I'm still trying to work out who Tony Turkey is, cause I would surely have run into him !

Seeing if I can get the cogs turning.... ;-)
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Postby philly » Sat Feb 25, 2006 7:22 pm

I enjoyed the article too. Especially when you mentioned the part about American Dave being a photographer and it clicked that he was a good mate of mine. Havent seen him for years. Did he move back to the US permanently?.
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Postby NYMo » Sun Feb 26, 2006 3:00 pm

I was being a bit harsh when I called him*American*... he's actually from Calgary !

I think he's giving Tony Mott a run for the money !
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Postby Andrew » Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:57 pm

Yeah I gotta say that was a great article Rick...hopefully we all learn from yours and others experience and not have to go through that, but in saying that I still keep making dumb decisions. I'm actually trying not to buy music mags atm so that I can be less influenced by the product advertisments.
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Postby Peter Knight » Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:35 am

Phwoar. Classic article!

Not too sold on the new paper though. Or the overall lack of content in this issue for that matter.
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Postby Sheer Noise » Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:11 pm

Thanks Rick,

Useful information as always.

In all honesty everyone, I'm not being a princess about this - and in reality, I've made all the money and credit liners I'd ever want out of these albums, so it's not a big deal. My main reason for posting was to find out where I stood with all the stuff, and if they decided to get pushy about it, whether or not I'd be FORCED to find all the files, transfer them onto other media and hand them over.

Experience.... it's all experience right!

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Postby rick » Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:41 pm

hi nymo
i was best man at american daves wedding, so i think i have the right to call him american - not sure about where he use to say he was from in those days ( australians hate yanks when they are "starting out" )
but trust me it was not actually canada ,
more like the chicago surburbs or there about.

dave has actually been in australia for longer then he was in america, but i just needed to get the article in print and did not tell him i was running it so i needed a slight cover name for him
read ( dont call him "american dave !")

maybe its best if we dont go chasing tony turkey down, i dont need the hassle, it was kinda of a rude article and i dont usually go in for "dissing" my clients even if they are turkeys, i was just stuck for a good idea.
its funny how people like the nasty ones
oh well
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Postby rick » Mon Feb 27, 2006 2:45 pm

oh yeah and for the train spotters the year was 1989
whoops !
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Postby Kris » Mon Feb 27, 2006 6:34 pm

actually Rick... I think we may have liked it because someone finally said what we've all been dying to say to someone at some stage in our time behind the board. I know if I had bigger cahuna's I'd be saying it to some people right now.
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