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Royalties Over Recorded Instrument Track


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Hi. I received an offer from a guitar player to record a part in my song I produce. I was wondering if he could claim royalties over this part of the song, even though he’ll get paid through Fiverr only.

It’s a gray area and I want to be sure that after he’s paid I hold 100% of the audio track and it is mine to use with no limits or credit to anyone.

Looking forward to hear from all of you,

Ari

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Your question pertains more to the ownership of Fiverr materials than it does to the music industry. Though, in this case - the instances align. Usually, session guitarists are paid for the session only. The financier of the audio session is the sole owner of all audio materials. This extends to fiverr as well - a term commonly referred to as “work for hire.” 

However - Fiverr allows sellers to set the terms of their own offerings and this includes: copyright, publishing rights, ownership and authorship.

In my case, I retain 100 percent copyright on all songwriting materials that I deliver. However, my client owns the audio - as that’s what they’ve paid for. Owning the audio (masters) gives the client authority to distribute, sell, give away, use or resell the audio however they see fit. In the case of my songwriting deliveries, I will receive royalties as the primary (or multiparty) songwriter. The audio owner will receive the bulk majority of the royalties - as it’s their investment - and at no time will they require my permission to use the material in anyway they deem fit. This is the important distinction between songwriting and something like writing copy - in a freelance environment. 

As it applies to session work (piano, in my case), I’m making the money upfront. I have no expectation to receive compensation after the fact. I don’t address ownership in my piano gigs, thereby defaulting to Fiverr’s position that “what you buy, belongs to you.”

This is most likely the case with the guitarist that you’ve hired.

I’ve outlined the difference of these scenarios to give you a clearer picture of what you should be discussing with sellers in the future.

But … you also need to be aware that sellers in the music vertical are very confused as to publishing vs copyright. Often, they will attempt to upsell you by charging a fee for “commercial rights” when they mean “audio publishing.” This is not only a fraudulent practice, as you’re already the audio owner, it’s not remotely connected to the actual meaning of the words “commercial rights.” This is largely a problem of miseducation and not a seller’s being malicious.

Still, these practices are allowed. This means that you need to carefully inspect profiles for any mention of a “release agreement,” “commercial rights” fees or royalty expectation. If none of these factors come up in the terms of agreement - Fiverr’s TOS gives you full ownership of what you’ve paid for. 

Unless otherwise specified, you are the owner of all session work - both physically and intellectually. A seller has the right to ask for performance royalties for their tracks (during the terms of agreement) … and you have the right to ask if they’ve bumped their head, before finding another seller who understands session work. 

Edited by damooch916
Awoooo werewolves of London. Awooooooo
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