Does This Deal Sound Sketchy to You?

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My band recently got the attention of a local group of songwriters that work in licensing. The company is small and has a handful of artists that are all in the Midwest. One of the owners explained to me that they have active relationships with some TV producers and music directors and that they would love to shop my bands' stuff around to these contacts. His deal is 50% of the signing fee and then he gives the band 100% of the royalties thereafter. From what I've seen, that's a step above the standard deal in which some companies take 25% of the royalties. For a band with no connections to TV, is this third party approach the best way to get our music into the hands of producers?  


Dear Anonymous,
My first concern here is why these folks are operating outside of industry convention in terms of their take. Depending on whether you get a sync (placement) for a TV show or a commercial spot, the back end might be totally different. I had a roommate that lived off of checks for a song of his that was used a lot in a particular season of The Real World--the back end on that was substantial, went on for years due to marathon weekends. I have also known a lot of folks who made significant money from commercials, where all the money was lumped up front, the back end being mechanical/SAG royalties and the like. So while maybe this deal sounds great, if you crunch the numbers, it might be a rip-off.

That said, I checked around and folks said 50% up front seemed awful high, though it's not unheard of.

I looked through this companies weird little website, and from what I gleaned, of their handful of artists, they got placement for one, on a huge network show that has been off the air for years. They have nine likes on Facebook, no LinkedIn page and and are MBA dudes in a part of the country that is far removed from any entertainment industry. That right there is a non-starter. If you are still considering it, talk to say--three?--other people on their roster about their experience of communication, getting placements, and getting paid. Compare this to what the agency dudes are telling you. They can probably "explain" anything, but they should also be able to show you the proof.

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