Navigating the music business can be tricky for creators, especially when dealing with the minute details of rights management and music contracts. Entertainment lawyer/music business professor Karl Fowlkes has a strategy to help explain the four things every artist should consider before signing a music contract. It’s called LOMO, or Length, Obligation, Money, and Ownership.
While the LOMO method can be applied to recording contracts, this article focuses on what to know before you sign up with Songtrust.
Length refers to the period (or term) of the agreement. Many agreements will pair a post-term collection period with the deal term. Some may also include partial ownership of your song copyrights for a set period of time, or even in perpetuity.
Songtrust’s minimum term length is one year, and does not include an advance. This initial term may be renewed for no extra fee. If you decide to terminate your contract, we reserve the right to collect royalties on your behalf for the remainder of the agreed term, or during its exploitation period. Read more about Songtrust’s terms of service here.
A music signing may include specific delivery obligations. In some traditional publishing agreements, you are required to produce a minimum number of commercially viable songs during the deal’s term.
There are no obligations when using Songtrust other than to provide all the correct details needed to successfully complete registrations and collect royalties, including your contact information. Since you are not required to create a set amount of work, you retain 100% of your ownership and may exploit your music for sync opportunities as you see fit.
Financial considerations will include how advances are recouped, the royalty rate (often according to the type of usage), and any recoupable costs that may be incurred on your behalf (usually around promotion).
Songtrust’s current pricing structure is relatively simple: a one-time fee of $100 per songwriter. You can add as many songs as you like and the fee does not auto-renew annually. We take a 15% commission of any royalties we collect, including those for sync fees that we negotiate.
Ownership refers to how much control you retain of your songs, and it varies considerably depending on the type of publishing deal. In a traditional co-publishing deal, you typically give 50% to your publisher in perpetuity.
With Songtrust’s publishing administration agreements, you retain 100% of your ownership rights and we only take a commission on the royalties we collect.
Be Your Own Advocate
Keep your career goals in mind and be your own best advocate whenever you’re considering a publishing agreement. Or any other type of music contract, for that matter.
We recommend consulting with a lawyer before signing any music deal. They can help you interpret the “legalese” within every line and prevent you from committing to a contract that isn’t in your best interest.
Finally, review our Publishing Deal Checklist for other considerations you’ll want to keep in mind before you sign a publishing agreement and don't forget to download The LOMO Method Checklist to take all this information with you on-the-go.