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Hello fellow musicians,

I'm new to the forum and I want to recommend a technique I've learned while negotiating contracts for music composition. It's simple: request payment terms be put in writing!

I've been writing music for film and TV for about four years and I've learned the hard way that it takes a really long time for big networks and labels to pay what they owe their composers. There's basically no standard time frame for paying subcontractors.

Some networks will try and trick you into signing a "contract" that pays you quickly through their payroll system. Don't agree to this. If you're using your gear and not getting any benefits - you're not an employee and you'll be kissing all your rights goodbye.

Others might tell you that they have a "standard" contract that they can't change. This is called a boilerplate contract and it's been drawn up by savvy lawyers to protect the best interests of their client.

These contracts can be changed - and it's a simple process. Call someone at the legal department and make a request. You'll typically be put in touch with an in-house legal counsel that most definitely has the power to change service agreements.

You'll get paid way quicker if you name your service terms and (if you're diplomatic) you'll have made another good contact at the network/label.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to any replies - Rob

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Hi Nightwolf,

That's a good point. It really depends on how you approach the topic. The reason why you typically need to speak to someone in legal is that producers and program directors usually don't have much say regarding contract specifics. They know their budget and their needs and that can be the extent of it.

The larger the network or label, the less internal communication they have and the less likely that your contact will have any ability to negotiate on your behalf. That's why it's easier to simply speak to the people that have decision making ability.

Requesting to speak with the legal department is the last step you take after you know you've secured the gig. I suppose it could be looked at as a strong-arm tactic but look at the alternative. You could either wait to be paid for 120 days (which has happened to me more than once) or you could insert your payments terms into the very one-sided contract that you'll likely be signing.

It's all about being diplomatic and assuring that your invoice is paid in a timely manner. Plumbers don't wait 120 days and composers shouldn't have to either.

Thanks for your reply!

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