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Legal Question / Co-Producing And Co-Writing With A Producer?

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  • Noob

Hi there!

I'm currently studying music production and will start soon the legal side of the industry. This week I'm meeting up with a contact who has a roster of producers and such. My question is this: How does it work when I want to approach a producer/ production team to write songs with them? I would be co-producing and co-writing. What kind of deals exist for that sort of arrangement? I would be hiring them in a sense 

Off-topic: Also, I know of a lot of cases where songwriters/artists simply write with the producers/production team, and I don't think the producers charge anything by the hour- they just write and write- as if it was a songwriting team. 

All advice, feedback, and answers are appreciated!
Thank you!!

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Working with a production team is something like working with an artist, and something like working with a songwriter. For example, if they are a "name", a known producer, part of the deal with them includes them putting their name to the work, ie you are trading on their name to a degree. If they are unknown this is less of a factor. That apart, they can be inputing to the song structure, arrangement, even lyrics (though less often) as a writer and creating the overall sound and performance. As such they can easily be creating more than 50% of the writing and all of the arrangement and performance, and contributing their name to the work to the extent in the dance world where a song can be completely under their name as an artist, perhaps featuring a guest vocalist with a lyricist good getting a small if any writing credit.

So the type and extent of terms vary hugely depending on what they bring to the party. If you are hiring a producer in old school terms then expect a fee. As part of the writing team they will expect a large percentage of royalties and copyright ownership. Often they will want both a fee and a percentage... this in part comes down to their confidence in the material and the artist. Everyone needs to eat, so you can understand that they don't create a track for you as part of a charity. They can make more money as a percentage if the track takes off, but a fee right now is more certain. If you are an unknown, with no plans to exploit the track (ie as a demo pitch, or with you unsigned and no fan list) then they are more likely to want a fee because the chances of them getting paid goes through the floor.

Overall it is a negotiation. What is standard very much depends on the several variables i mentioned. Add to that it is likely to be their studio you use. In total you have to make it worthwhile for them to work with you. Yes there are contracts that involve all these terms. be very wary of any working arrangement that does not involve a contract between you and all involved. Professionals expect contracts and business agreements.

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