Music Licensing ‘In Perpetuity’

I recently received a music licensing contract which basically requires an artist to sign over their song(s) in perpetuity.  Unless you have legal training or understand the music biz legalese, these contracts can bring some unwanted surprises or legal action against you if you’re not clear upfront on all of the terms you’re agreeing to.  Please see the document below:

Based on the wording of this agreement, the music licensing company would own all rights in and to your compositions, including but not limited to all copyrights, master rights, synchronization rights, mechanical rights, etc., in perpetuity. (That’s the legal talk that means they own whatever music you submit to their library.)  If you have tracks that you want to market elsewhere, or someday work into a bigger production, then this would NOT be the contract to sign.


 Be aware that no upfront fees of any kind will be paid for music submitted under this agreement which this publisher would then own exclusively (i.e., such compositions can only be exploited by this music company ONLY).


 This is how you would typically make money from this type of arrangement:
Music composers are compensated based upon a share of Public Performance Royalties paid by the applicable Performance Rights Societies directly to Publishers and Writers.  The Publisher would retain 100% of the Publisher’s Share of Performance Royalties, and you would retain 100% of the Writers Share of Performance Royalties generated from the use of your compositions.


 I attended a Grammy Recording Academy panel discussion a few years ago, and one of the panelists suggested that we never sign an ‘In Perpetuity’ agreement ever.  A better option would be to ask the licensing company for a non-exclusive agreement where you would still retain rights to your music.


 You should always know what you’re signing before you put your signature on the dotted line.  If you can’t understand the jargon in a contract, then you should definitely consult an attorney or someone who has experience in this area.  Personally, I won’t be signing this type of contract unless I’m being guaranteed a lot of money up front because I don’t want to lose ownership of one of my creations forever and ever with no way to make any money off my songs should this company decide to shelve my work.


Classical Music Humor

We all need a good dose of humor from time to time. My stand partner and I have had a laugh riot over the following meme that I found courtesy of the Orchestra.Humor Pinterest page. A lot of the parents from my childhood thought that listening to rap or heavy metal music would make us kids overly aggressive and mean-spirited. Well …. Apparently, having your child listen to classical music may do something just as bad to them if they happen to fall into the hands of the wrong composer.

For those who aren’t familiar with these composers, I will continue on to explain the inside joke.

The Haydn Effect: Haydn composed over 100 symphonies. I’ve personally enjoyed performing and auditioning with his cello Concerto in C for years. He and Mozart were good friends, and Haydn’s warm, caring and loving personality is often contrasted against that of Wagner.

The Bach Effect: Bach composed over 300 church service cantatas that were based on church hymns and Gospel readings. His technical profundity can be overwhelming and has definitely stopped many well-seasoned musicians in their tracks.

The Handel Effect: Handel has been described as a dramatic genius of the first order due to his Italian opera productions.

The Beethoven Effect: Beethoven is one of the most famous and influential composers of his time. He was a crucial figure in the transition from the Classical to what is considered the Romantic era of music. He supposedly started going deaf in his 20s when he went into a violent rage after his work was interrupted. His tantrum caused him to topple over which is when he lost his hearing.

The Liszt Effect: It has been rumored that Liszt would need 2 pianos at his recitals because the first would most definitely be destroyed by the extravagant force with which he played. He has been described as a mixture of Lang Lang’s virtuosity and Justin Timberlake’s ‘carnal’ appeal. If given the choice, most music historians would much rather listen to a Chopin piano composition.

The Bruckner Effect: Bruckner could probably be considered a pioneer in the radicalization of his musical genre. His compositions were known for their considerable length, dissonance, modulations that just seemed to show up out of nowhere and harmonies that defied conventional song writing techniques.

The Grieg Effect: Grieg helped to put Norwegian Folk Music on the international stage since he would use and develop those tunes as the base for his own compositions.

The Wagner Effect: Wagner is most noted for his operas and highly controversial writings. His life was a chaotic mix of political exile, turbulent love affairs and evading his creditors.

The Schoenberg Effect: Schoenberg is known as the first modern composer to come up with ways of creating multiple variations of a theme without having a main melodic theme that the song’s loose ends tie back into.

The Ives Effect: Ives is considered to be an American original music innovator. He would combine church music elements, American popular music and European music to create his unique style of experimental music.

The Stravinsky Effect: The 1913 premiere of one his works has gone down in history as a famous classical music riot where fist fights erupted in the audience and a police presence was needed to make it through the 2nd act.

The Shostakovich Effect: His dry style of piano playing was described as showing emotional restraint. When some of his earlier works were denounced by the Soviet government, his response was to create a more musically conservative sound which returned him to favour.

The Cage Effect: Cage is best known for his composition entitled 4’33’’ in which musicians show up on stage and play nothing for exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

The Glass Effect: Glass’ approach to composing music was to use repetitive music structures. This technique has been described as minimalism.

In reality, I’m sure that no real harm will come to your children by exposing them to classical music. I hope that you too were able to find the humor in these composer descriptions. If not, then hopefully this was a fun way to learn about some of the most prolific composers of all time.