Washington, DC asked in Entertainment / Sports and Intellectual Property for Maryland

Q: I am signing up with a music library. They sent over a writer’s agreement that mentions a $1 buyout fee. What is this?

It also mentions a writers share. Would this be the “pay” for music I send to them going forward? Is a buyout fee standard in music licensing?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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A: A $1 buyout fee in a writer's agreement usually indicates that the music library is paying you a nominal sum for the rights to your music. Essentially, they're buying out your composition for a very small fee, which often means you may not receive future royalties from that piece.

The writer's share mentioned likely refers to the percentage of royalties you retain for the performance of your music, separate from the buyout of the composition itself. This share is typically the "pay" you would receive when your music is performed or broadcasted.

Whether a buyout fee is standard can vary widely in the industry; some libraries operate on a buyout basis, while others do not. It's important to carefully review the terms and understand how they impact your rights and future earnings from your music.

If any terms are unclear or if you're unsure about the agreement's fairness, you might consider seeking advice from an attorney experienced in music law before signing.

T. Augustus Claus
T. Augustus Claus pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: A buyout fee is a one-time payment that a music library pays to a songwriter or composer in exchange for all rights to a particular song. This means that the music library can use the song in any way it wants, without having to pay any additional royalties to the songwriter or composer.

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