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We’re privileged in Canada for many reasons, including entertainment industry financial support, including support for our music industry from FACTOR, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and more.

The reality is that there aren’t enough funds to support everyone.

However, there have been hints lately at additional funding.

Also, whether you get funded or not, preparing a grant application is also an opportunity to work on your career’s business plan.

This blog’s purpose is to share information about the Ontario Arts Council’s Music Recording Projects program.

Based in Toronto, the Ontario Arts Council supports artists and organizations but supporting artists across the province working in a variety of styles and genres of music.

Their five music grant categories are Music Creation Projects, Music Organizations: Operating, Music Production and Presentation Projects, Music Recording Projects and Musique – projets francophones.

The Music Recording Projects program supports the recording of music by Ontario-based musicians including composers, songwriters and beat producers. This program has combined and replaced the previous Popular Music and Classical Music Recording programs.

Also to note is that if beat producers are recording beats/soundscapes with the idea that this music will be used for future works by other artists, they should apply to the Music Creation Projects.

This program’s next application deadline is May 16, 2018 at 1:00pm.

Again, that’s May 16, 2018, whether you’re in Windsor, Toronto or Sudbury.

The following deadline is November 15, 2018.

Two Categories

  • There are two Music Recording Projects program categories: Demo/EP recordings and Full-length album.
  • The EP can be a typical EP, or a series of individually released songs.
  • The full-length must be at least 26 minutes, and according to the OAC, should be ready or nearly ready to begin recording.
  • They note that if your project features non-Ontario composers, a compelling case must be made for how the project will enhance existing public offerings.
  • The OAC may provide up to $5,000 for a Demo/EP recording and $12,000 for a full length album.

Eligibility

  • Among other options, you’re eligible if you’re a professional musician and/or composer, and an Ontario resident with a permanent physical address in Ontario. Professional music ad hoc groups/collectives and organizations based in Ontario with a permanent physical address in Ontario are also eligible.
  • The OAC defines a professional artist as someone who has developed skills through training or practice, is recognized by artists working in the same artistic tradition, has a history of public presentation or publication, seeks payment for her or his work and actively practices his or her art. Short breaks in artistic work history are acceptable.
  • Unfortunately for me, lawyers aren’t eligible, but neither are recording studios, record companies/labels, managers, agents and others.

Expenses That May Be Paid Using The Grant

  • The program funds expenses including recording, mixing, mastering, artist and producer fees (including fees to the applicant!), studio and venue rental, art, promo, manufacturing up to a thousand units, and equipment rental.
  • The program does not cover expenses for activities that take place outside of Ontario, a re-release of previously recorded material, music videos and more.
  • The activities for which you are requesting funding cannot start before the deadline, cannot finish before you receive your grant results (about four months after the deadline) and must be completed no more than two years after you receive the grant results.
  • Full-length recording projects are considered complete once the recording is publicly available.

Next Steps

  • Read the Guide to OAC Project Programs and Guide to OAC Assessment… and the rest of the details on this grant. This blog is not a replacement for the full guidelines!
  • Register with Nova – the OAC’s online grant application system.
  • Prepare and submit your application, which includes project information; answers to the application questions on artistic merit, impact and viability; budget; artistic examples (two audio or video examples – no more than five minutes in total); and supporting documents (CV, letters of confirmation from key participants).

To access the deadlines for all OAC programs, click here.

Good luck!

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

Regarding music law, Byron Pascoe works with musicians and music companies to assist with record label agreements, publishing contracts, distribution deals, producer agreements, band agreements, etc.

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Being a Musician is Business (Ontario Arts Council) appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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The deadline to apply for the Bell Fund’s Short Form Digital Series Fiction Program is May 7, 2018. Who is this funding available to? How much is it? What steps do I need to take to apply? This blog will discuss the requirements and details of the program to help producers understand how to access this funding, and decide whether they want to make the investment of time and resources to apply.

 

What is the Bell Fund?

The Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, a.k.a. “The Bell Fund”, is a CRTC certified independent production fund that provides funding for cross-platform digital media and TV content. Based in Toronto, Bell Fund provides support to Canadians from coast to coast.

What is the Short Form Digital Series Fiction Program?

Funding is now available under four streams: 1) Short Form Digital Series Fiction Program; 2) Short Form Digital Series Non-Fiction Program; 3) Webdocs Development Program; and 4) Slate Development Program.

The purpose of the Short Form Digital Series Fiction Program is to fund original digital video content for online distribution, specifically the production of scripted fiction, which includes drama, comedy, and children’s and youth programming, excluding animated series.

How Much Funding Can I Receive?

Funding is available as a non-repayable grant of 75% of the costs of production up to a maximum of $150,000. Production costs that are eligible to be covered include standard digital video production costs but not the costs of implementing the Discoverability Plan.

Evaluation of the discoverability plan will take place alongside evaluation of the application. If the application is approved for funding, the Producer may be eligible to receive up to $50,000 towards the implementation of the Discoverability Plan based on an approved budget.

What Productions Can Qualify?

The requirements that a production must meet in order to qualify for funding are as follows:

  • The production must be a work of scripted fiction in either of the drama, comedy or children’s and youth programming genres.
  • Productions must have a minimum of six episodes, each episode being a maximum of 15 minutes in length.
  • The production cannot be broadcast for at least 12 months following its release on a digital platform.
  • Principal photography cannot have begun prior to the application deadline.
  • A teaser/trailer of the production (maximum of two minutes) must be provided with the application. Make sure to impress them! From our conversations with the Bell Fund team, the teaser should communicate the tone and feel of the project. According to list of very helpful FAQs, the teaser should be professional quality, and they are looking for “quality premium content.”
  • At the time of the application the production must be able to show that at least 10% of the budget is financed in cash by a third party (there must at least be a commitment in writing).
  • The copyright of the production must be owned, optioned or controlled by the applicant.
  • A Discoverability Plan (as defined here) must be submitted at the time of the application.

In addition to the requirements described above, the Bell Fund requires the production to have one of the following at the time the application is made:

  • A license agreement (commitment letter may be sufficient) with a CRTC licensed Canadian broadcaster-owned, digital platform or hybrid VOD service.
  • A license agreement with a digital platform accessible to Canadians (Canadian or foreign-owned).
  • An agreement with a Canadian distributor with a commitment to make the program available on a platform within 12 months of completion.
  • Where there is no agreement, the Bell Fund, at its sole discretion, may consider waiving this requirement.

While many producers have separate corporations which play the role of distributor, the Canadian distributor cannot be a related party to the applicant, unless they distribute third party content. If there’s any question about whether the distributor is eligible, you should submit the distributor to the Bell Fund team via email (info@bellfund.ca) in advance for consideration and hopefully to get approval.

If neither a license agreement nor a distribution agreement is available in time for the deadline the Bell Fund may consider waiving this requirement subject to the applicant being able to provide some or all of the following additional requirements to the Bell Fund for review and assessment of eligibility at the time of application:

  • the proposed platform (not just any platform – there are rules to review, including that it must be accessible to Canadians.)
  • ability to demonstrate the completion and commercialization of at least one other original audio-visual programming project for an online platform; and
  • an ability to execute and commercialize the concept (i.e. if required, retention of outside experts with the experience to deliver and commercialize the project).

If you are not sure if you have what it takes to get a waiver… ask the Bell Fund team.

Also, be sure to read the Application Components (http://bellfund.ca/application-components/) including the Project Details form and  Discoverability Plan (http://bellfund.ca/wp-content/themes/wp-starter-kit-master/documents/short-form/Discoverability-Plan-Eng.pdf), which includes a detailed description of producer driven, audience-focused activities (10-page max) with a budget.

Good Luck!

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Bell Fund: Short Form Digital Series Fiction Program appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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You produced a film. Now what?

You received an offer from a broadcaster to license your series, but there isn’t enough money from the broadcaster(s), tax credits, producer deferrals, and other funds to produce it. Now what?

In both situations, either before or after production, you need help to get your film or series licensed, whether in theatres, on television, or any number of video on demand platforms, from iTunes to Netflix, Hulu to Amazon. There are companies and individuals to help you do this, who focus on making the sales that will eventually lead to viewers paying to watch your content.

Some refer to these intermediaries (between you and the buyer/licensor) as sales agents, others as distributors. There’s a lot of confusion around these terms so we’re simply going to call them sales agents, to keep it simple.

Generally speaking, a sales agent’s role is to sell your content to the exhibitors, who sell directly to consumers. Sales agents may use sub-agents in particular territories, languages or platforms, they may provide an advance against the revenue they are going to generate (which the producer typically finances to cover production costs) and they may have the right to enter into agreements on your behalf.

When a producer receives their first offer from a sales agent, there’s a sense of accomplishment. Someone likes my film or series! Where do I sign? Resist that temptation – before signing, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into.

When reviewing an sales agent agreement for a producer, it’s not uncommon for there to be several “red flags”. The following list (in no particular order) provides some of the most common.

  1. Inconsistencies between what you are told and what’s in the agreement

It may be deliberate, or not, but the draft agreement you’re being asked to sign doesn’t always match what you’ve been told. Even though the sales agent made a statement, even a promise, doesn’t mean the agreement you’re being asked to sign is completely consistent. A simple example: if you’re told you’re getting an advance of $5K, but the agreement leaves that out.

  1. Lack of clarity

A key purpose of having an agreement is to clearly define your rights and obligations, and the rights and obligations of the sales agent. You need to be on the same page about how you and the sales agent will work together, what specific steps the sales agent is going to take on your behalf and what specifically they are entitled to from you, in return. When there isn’t clarity, for example, around what you need to deliver, how can you ensure that either you or the sales agent have complied? Unclear terms should be clarified.

  1. Commissions and expenses

The formula used to determine how much money you keep from sales made by the sales agent on your behalf is likely to be “gross revenue” less the sales agent’s commission (typically a percentage of the sale) and expenses. Without a clear definition of commissions and expenses, you may never get paid anything. For example, if you sign on with a sales agent and they enter into an agreement with a sub-agent, is the sub-agent’s commission in addition to your agent’s or does your agent pay for the sub-agent out of its own commission? As for expenses, because these are notoriously difficult to define, many producers don’t even try – they just cap the expenses at a fixed percentage of the gross revenue.

  1. Lack of Obligations

What do you want the sales agent to do? Spend some money on marketing and promotion? Attend specific trade shows? If they aren’t willing to put their verbal commitments in writing, maybe they actually aren’t going to do anything more than add the project to their catalogue and wait for buyers to contact them. Whether a sales agent is going to put your content on their shelf or aggressively seek opportunities is an important part of your due diligence process. You hope that the more willing your sales agent is to put their promises in writing, the more likely they are to keep them. And, if they don’t you have it in writing and might be able to either enforce the promise or get your rights back.

  1. No provision to get details

The sales agent must have an obligation to provide you with details about their sales, collections and calculations of your share. They typically provide that report quarterly, with a cheque for any amount owing to you. Make sure that you have the rights to audit their numbers.

  1. Lack of balanced rights

There are a variety of “general” agreement terms, from representations to indemnities, which are found in all types of agreements. Just because they’re commonplace, doesn’t mean the terms you’re reading were drafted reasonably. Read them carefully and think about whether they are a fair and balanced allocation of risk.

  1. Lack of clear termination provisions

There needs to be a clear, efficient way for you to get out of the agreement and get your content back if the sales agent isn’t promoting your content, reporting on time or paying you what you are entitled to receive.

In general, if you’re told an agreement is take it or leave it and the sales agent won’t answer your questions, they might not be the right partner. Read the agreement carefully before signing, get some assistance from fellow producers and/or an entertainment lawyer, discuss your questions and concerns with the sales agent and negotiate for a fair split of the risks and rewards. You invested a lot of time, money and heart in producing your content – don’t abandon it now. And get references!

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Sales Agency and Distribution Agreements appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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In March, 2017 the Canada Media Fund (“CMF”) released its policy changes for 2017-2018. There are several key policy changes and initiatives that are important to know for anyone seeking CMF funding.

CMF has chosen to focus its policy for 2017-2018 on the following key initiatives: gender parity, support for Aboriginal Peoples content, developing diversity, and expanding digital content.

Gender Parity:

CMF has added new incentives and mandatory requirements aimed at increasing the presence and influence of women in the Canadian film and television industry.

To determine who is awarded funding, the CMF uses a points-based system. Evaluation criteria vary for different programs, but all programs are based on a 100 point scale. The CMF will now award three (3) points to any project where at least 40% of the following key positions are held by women: Producer, Executive Producer, Director (including Technical Director, Creative Director, and Interactive Director), Senior Programmer, Designer, and Project Leader).

Broadcasters are now required to direct 15% of their respective Performance and Development Envelope Allocation dollars to projects in which women hold at least 40% of the Producer, Director, or Writer positions. This 15% will increase to 25% in 2018-2019, and 35% in 2019-2020. If Broadcasters do not meet this minimum requirement, the CMF will impose a dollar-for-dollar penalty in the following year’s funding.

Developing Diversity and Support for Aboriginal Peoples Content:

Applicants to the CMF must apply under one of two streams: the Convergent Stream or the Experimental Stream. The Experimental Stream is much smaller and contains the Web-Series Program, and the Commercial Pilot Project Program.

The Convergent Stream funds content that is produced for distribution on at least two platforms, one of which must be television. Therefore, an application for Convergent Stream funding requires a Television (“TV”) Component as well as an accompanying platform (i.e. Digital Media (“DM”) Components, Video-on-Demand presentation of the TV Component, or digital distribution of the TV Component).

Starting in 2017-2018, the requirement for an accompanying platform no longer applies to projects in the Development Program, Aboriginal Program and Francophone Minority Program.

Expanding Digital Content:

Beginning in 2017-2018, DM Components must be associated with a TV Component that is funded by the CMF in the same fiscal year. It is no longer possible to come to the CMF with an unfunded TV Component and receive DM Components funding.

To expand its Web Series Pilot Program, in addition to increasing the amount of funding available, the CMF has added Documentaries to the genres that are eligible to receive CMF funding.  Previously, funding was restricted to the genres of Drama and Children’s and Youth.

The Convergent Digital Media Incentive (“CDMI”) is designed to encourage the production of DM Components that are related to CMF-funded television productions to give Canadians access to programming on different platforms. Previously, projects applying for the CDMI were selected on a first-come/first-served basis. Now, projects will be selected according to the criteria listed in the CDMI Evaluation Grid.

The distinction between “value-added” and “rich and substantial” DM Components has been removed for applying for development funding. In addition, DM Components (if applicable) will now be submitted with the TV Component’s application.

Other Changes:

Other Rights (now renamed “Other Exploitation Rights”): In addition to the right to broadcast a show on TV and to make it accessible through CRTC approved Video-On-Demand services, there are numerous other ways a broadcaster may exploit a project. Some of these “Other Exploitation Rights” have been enumerated by the CMF and include the following:

  1. Free Internet broadcast/distribution;
  2. Advertising Video On Demand (“AVOD”);
  • Paid Internet broadcast/distribution;
  1. Subscription Video On Demand (“SVOD”);
  2. Mobile/wireless distribution;
  3. Original digital content rights;
  • Electronic sell-through and/or digital rental;
  • DVD, Blu-ray, or other compact video device distribution;
  1. Theatrical distribution;
  2. Non-theatrical distribution (e.g., educational institutions and airlines);
  3. Merchandising and ancillary rights.

Previously, some broadcasters used these Other Exploitation Rights to access additional revenues, even if they had not made an investment in a project. To close this loophole, the CMF has clarified that Other Exploitation Rights applies only to various subsidiary and ancillary exploitation rights of a project, and that a broadcaster may only recoup on exploitation revenues if they are making an investment in the project.

License Fee Thresholds (“LFT”): Broadcasters must pay a license fee in exchange for the right to broadcast a TV show. To receive CMF funding, the CMF requires that the license fee must be worth a pre-determined minimum amount—this amount is the LFT. There are many categories of LFT, a full list of which is available here.

Beginning in 2017-2018, French Drama, Mini Series is no longer an exclusive category of LFT, but is now merged with other LFT’s in French Drama.

The “English Documentary (all projects, excluding feature-length, $750K/hr or more)” category has merged with the “English Documentary (all projects, excluding feature-length, $400K/hr to $750K/hr)” category, and the $750K/hr cap has been removed. French Documentary categories have also merged in the same respect.

Applicable Language: Previously, there was no distinction between live-action and animated series when determining a project’s original language. Now, the original language of animated productions will be determined by the language of the Broadcaster with the highest Eligible Licence Fee for the project.

Elimination of Broadcaster Convergence Requirement: Broadcasters are no longer required to spend 60% of the Development Envelope allocation on projects with a “rich and substantial” DM Component or to have a minimum of 60% of their projects include a DM Component which meets the CMF’s standard for “value-added” or “rich and substantial” content.

English Regional Production Bonus (“ERPB”): Previously, the ERPB was awarded on a first-come/first-served basis, while no province could access more than 35% of the allocation for the ERPB. These restrictions no longer apply to applicants that are awarded funding through the English POV Program or the Aboriginal Program.

Please note that this post does not constitute an exhaustive list of the CMF policy changes for 2017-2018; although it does, in our opinion, cover the most significant ones. A complete list of the CMF policy changes can be found here.

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Canada Media Fund – Policy Changes for 2017-2018 appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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The word administration can be quite boring…

However, in the music context, it can be quite exciting.

A common example of music administration is when a musician wants to administer the rights of another person, such as someone else in her band. Another situation is when a singer/songwriter is considering entering into a publishing administration agreement with a publishing administrator.

Let’s start with the situation where you want to administer someone else’s rights, because you want to make decisions on their behalf. This may be of interest as you don’t want to seek approval from them later. You might need to make a decision quickly, and the other person might be busy at work, out of the country, or no longer talking to you.

Let’s say you’re in a band and your band collectively wrote a song together. If you’re the lead writer, whether you’re the front person or not, you may be sharing the songwriting credits with the others in the band, as a way to ensure everyone gets a piece of the related royalties. It would be preferable if you have the authority to make decisions about the composition on behalf of the other members in your band. One way to do this is to be given the authority to administer the rights of your co-writers for their share of the composition.

Let’s say you’re a singer/songwriter and you’re recording an EP with a music producer. Perhaps your arrangement with the producer is that he or she is entitled to a percentage of the EP’s compositions. Your arrangement might provide you rights to administer the producer’s share of the compositions.

These are examples of administering someone’s share of the composition. You might also administer someone’s share of a master recording.

If you and someone else, whether an investor or a creative partner, co-own a master, the arrangement might be that you administer the other person’s share of the master recordings. With these rights, you can make decisions on behalf of the masters, and don’t need to go back and seek approval anytime someone wants rights granted in relation to the master. If there’s a distribution deal or a music placement opportunity, the person (or company) who controls the rights in the master must be the one to grant those relevant rights to others.

If you’re administering someone else’s share, of either a composition or a master, it might make sense that you’re paid a commission for your time, or you’re compensating someone else for the right to make the decisions. As with many situations… it depends!

Another way the concept of administration may be relevant to your music career is when you consider having a third party, namely an established administrator, seek royalties on your behalf, along with seeking royalties for many other people.

That company is seeking the right to access royalties for you, so you can focus on writing and performing great music. There are fees paid to the administrator. What depends on the situation is what percentage you’re giving to the administrator as a commission.

There are some administrative tasks that are more manageable for an artist than others. However, while signing up for SoundExchange for digital royalties, and ASCAP for public performance royalties, is generally done by many artists themselves, there are publishing administrators who will take on these tasks in addition to seeking other publishing royalties that are more difficult to access on your own. Signing up with societies and other organizations to access royalties is not how many musicians want to spend their day, even if it’s done just once at each organization. The one stop shop of using an administrator can be very appealing.

Also, many musicians are not familiar with all the royalties that are available to them as a writer, performer, and/or master rights holder. Having a third party collect money on your behalf, which is otherwise “sitting on the table” waiting to be accessed, is very tempting. However, I don’t suggest signing on the dotted line without understanding the agreement you’re being asked to sign by an administrator.

Key provisions to understand in such agreements include:

(a) the term (the duration of the agreement),

(b) what the administrator is entitled to receive when the term ends,

(c) whether funds are being paid in your name or in the name of the administrator,

(d) what fees are being retained by the administrator as their commission,

(e) what costs the administrator can get reimbursed through your royalties before commission is calculated, and

(f) whether the grant of rights being requested is too broad in comparison to the rights they need to do what they promised to do.

If you plan to create great music (which you do), and plan to share it with the world on all platforms (which you do too), and want your music placed in various entertainment projects (why not), then it’s important to think about whether you should be administering the rights of anyone else in your music creation ecosystem, and if someone should be accessing royalties for you.

If you need help writing an administration agreement for someone else to sign, or understanding and negotiating an agreement you’re asked to sign, so long as you agree that the word administration isn’t boring, we look forward to hearing from you.

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Being a Musician is a Business (Music Rights Administration) appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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For registration information for this free event, please visit our Eventbrite page.

The post CSI Event – Legal Essentials For Creative Businesses appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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There’s a pension for musicians? I can get help traveling legally to the U.S. to perform?

As Robin Moir, the Secretary-Treasurer of Local 180, the Musicians’ Association of Ottawa-Gatineau has explained, “Local 180 is our chapter of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (the AFM); the Canadian members of that organization are called the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) – the leading professional organization of its kind available to Canadian musicians.”

The CFM negotiates fair agreements for members, helps to secure instrument and liability insurance and pensions for its membership, and lobbies legislators on Copyright reform, NAFTA, and other matters of interest to professional musicians living and working in Canada.

The AFM has approximately eighty-five to ninety thousand members in North America, with some seventeen thousand in Canada. The chapter based in Ottawa has between six hundred and eight hundred members on average. While some are union members for life, others go in and out of the union, including for P2 visa purposes. More on that below.

Members within Local 180 are varied, including classical musicians, freelance (singer/songwriter), recording musicians, music teachers and pop/hip hop musicians. For classical members, Local 180 assists by negotiating collective bargaining, for example for members of the NAC Orchestra. For other members, Local 180 has an extensive Price List for various types of gigs from bars to festivals. Paying union scale fees means paying what this pricing model provides.

The CFM has standard form contracts that its members can use with employers, either as the only agreement between a member and her employer (such as a festival), or in addition to the standard form agreement provided by the employer between the parties.

It’s not a one-way contract. While the agreement provides that the employer will pay the musician at least at scale, it also commits the musician to the gig and to the other contractual obligations.

Another aspect of the CFM standard agreement is that it incorporates a pension contribution for the musician, namely to the Musicians’ Pension Fund of Canada.

While different locals have different rules, for Local 180 pension contributions can be between 3% and 18% of the scale fee, always contributed by the employer. The percentage of the pension contribution is the artist’s choice, and the choice doesn’t need to be the same each time.

Let’s do some math. If a musician union member has a gig, and scale is $150, and the bar owner is offering $200, the musician can ask him to sign a CFM Local 180 contract, whereby the total paid is $200, however, 10% (as this is the percentage the musician chose between 3% and 18%) of the base ($150) is going towards pension contributions ($150 * 10% = $15). With the signed contract, the musician is committing to performing the gig. The bar owner pays $200 to the musician, the musician sends $15 to the union for her pension contribution on behalf of the bar owner, as well as 3% (3% * $150 = $4.50) for her work dues.

There are multiple options for cash flow. In the prior example, the musician paid dues and contributed pension (on behalf of the employer) to the union. Another option is that the employer pays the pension payments directly to the union, and the remainder to the musician. It important to know that in both of the scenarios above, the contribution to pension and the work dues must be accompanied by a contract.

The funds must be provided to the union, along with the contract, within 30 days of the performance so that the pension contributions may be sent to the Musicians Pension Fund of Canada. Also, there must be 2 gigs covered by a contract with pension contributions, every 6 months for two years, for the funds to be vested, which means that the contributions will increase in value.

You cannot have pension contributions made by an employer unless it’s a percentage (3%-18%) of scale wages and both of you have signed a CFM standard contract

Employers are not required to sign a union contract. There are union members who sometimes work under union contracts for scale, and other times not. However, if you can’t get an employer to sign a union contract, a work around to allow contributions to be made to your pension is by incorporating a company which will engage yourself as the artist, and provide your services to others.

The CFM also helps Canadian musicians get the proper work visa to work in the United States. The Classification P2 Work Permit (aka the P2) allows you to perform in the U.S. Performing across the border illegally, and getting caught, can mean the end of your U.S. touring career for a very long time.

For regular processing, the P2 package should be submitted to the union at least 75 calendar days (105 days) prior to the first U.S. performance. The cost is $460 USD per person crossing the border. The expedited service, which is not guaranteed, costs approximately $1,225 USD per person. You aren’t reimbursed if you aren’t approved, or if it takes longer than anticipated.

While Canadian musicians have various options to obtain the P2, including through immigration lawyers or visa service agents, the AFM is recognized by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as an authorized petitioner for temporary work permits on behalf of member musicians.

A musician must be a member of the Local to use this service. As alluded to above, if someone tours the U.S. every 4 years, and isn’t interested in the pension or other union benefits, they might join the union every 4 years for the tour, resign in good standing, stop paying their fees, and then rejoin for the next tour.

If you plan to tour in the U.S., one of your options is to book a meeting with the union to discuss all that you will require for the application. A practical challenge is that the tour dates must be finalized very far in advance. Changes to the schedule, especially for changes other than adding shows to the end of a tour, will be challenging.

While the union isn’t for everyone, it’s important for all musicians to understand the services they provide. Membership is not free (just like your shows shouldn’t be free!). The annual Local 180 membership fee is $195 and there’s a one-time initiation fee of $115 (for people aged 21 and older). For those younger than 21 or joining as a band, there is no initiation fee. The next time a family member asks what you want for your birthday, you can always suggest a gift certificate to the CFM (or this entertainment law firm!).

For more information on the Canadian Federation of Musicians, head here – http://www.cfmusicians.org/

For more information on Local 180, head here – http://www.ma180.org

To contact other locals in Ontario, head here – http://www.cfmusicians.org/contact#Ontario

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Being a Musician is a Business (Our Music Union) appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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One of the ways to get your music catalogue and future compositions onto screens (TV series, movies, advertisements and games) is through a direct relationship to the relevant music supervisor or film/TV producer.

Another way is by working with a music publishing company whose services include seeking music placement opportunities for you – opportunities to place your music into series, films, etc. There are different types of publishing arrangements, and therefore different types of publishing agreements.

Music publishers generally work one-on-one with their artists to develop a strategy for getting the right kind of placements for the right kind of fees (as much as possible).

In a co-publishing agreement, one of the ways publishers are generally compensated is by being assigned 50% of the copyright of the relevant musical works, which means that the writer and publisher share (a) the up front funds received from song placements with respect to the synchronization rights (which is generally 50% of the up front fees with the other 50% going towards the master use rights controlled by whoever owns the master) and (b) the publisher’s share of performance rights royalties (which is usually 50% of the fees provided by SOCAN with the other 50% going towards the writer’s share).

If a singer/songwriter co-wrote a song with another writer, and the singer/songwriter alone is signing a co-publishing agreement with a publisher, the publisher will generally receive 50% of the singer/songwriter’s rights – not 50% of the entire composition.

There are single song co-publishing (aka co-pub) agreements, co-pub agreements for specific recordings / albums, and co-pub agreements for periods of time (for example for a period of now until 3 years from now). The amount of content subject to the deal varies based on the parties involved. The less of a commitment you provide to the publisher from the outset, the easier it is to test out the publisher before making a significant commitment. However, if you get an offer you can’t refuse to jump into a relationship with a publisher for a significant portion of your library and future material, it may be difficult to say no. What’s important is to understand what you’re being asked to give up.

Once you have received a formal offer from a publisher, or earlier, do your due diligence on the music publisher, including by researching their roster of artists. Also, ask what they think they can do with your music from a publishing perspective.

If you’re interested in having the publisher focus on opportunities for other musicians to sing your songs, and place your existing work performed by you on screen, ensure that your publishing partner focuses on these different publishing functions, and has the experience and networks you can trust.

It may be very exciting to receive an offer from a publishing company, especially if they represent other artists you admire. However, just like any music agreement, there are many details and factors to consider.

The Advance

One element to consider is how much money, if any, the publisher is providing up front in cash to you, against future revenue. If the publisher is confident that they can obtain high value placement opportunities for you, one way to test that confidence is seeking an advance, or asking for a higher advance. The advance is not owed back to the publisher if no money is generated, however, the advance is recouped by the publisher before they pay you. As such, if the advance is $5,000, the publisher generates sales in which the singer/songwriter is to earn $6,000, then the publisher keeps $5,000 to reimburse their advance, and pays the singer/songwriter $1,000. The next time the singer/songwriter is to receive money from the publisher, there won’t be any further advance-related deductions.

Amount of Music

As alluded to above, the amount of music being covered in the deal is a very important consideration. Perhaps you have a large library, but only want the publisher to have publishing rights to a certain number of songs and not the rest. If you want your arrangement set up this way, ask for the agreement to reflect your needs.

Decision Making

What rights do you have, if any, with respect to placement decisions? If you want to ensure that your music isn’t placed in ads related to meat because you’re a vegetarian, this is the time when you have leverage / clout with the publisher, to make your wishes known. Ensuring you must pre-approve having your music placed in political or religious content is a common and reasonable request.

Revenue Model

If the compensation formula involves the publisher reimbursing itself before funds from publishing sales are divided between you and the publisher, it’s important to consider your approval rights and the publisher’s limitations, related to the publisher’s expenses. This should increase the likelihood that you get paid when your music is used. What a concept!?

Termination

What happens, if after all the publisher’s good intentions, nothing happens? Plan ahead by giving yourself a way to protect yourself and music if needed down the line.

Cash Flow

It’s also important to check the agreement to see how long it will take you to get paid, after the publisher receives money on your behalf, and what you can do (your “remedies”) if you aren’t paid on time or sufficiently.

A related partner is a publisher administrator who helps to ensure you’re paid appropriately from publishing opportunities, ideally around the globe. Some do help find placement opportunities, but that’s not their main purpose. They are not given ownership in the copyright of the music, but take a fee for their important role in the form of a percentage of music publishing funds generated and received. A publishing partner generally provides what the publishing administrator provides, and also seeks placement opportunities in a much more proactive way.

While a few concepts and considerations from publishing agreements have been highlighted, as you can tell from the page count on some of these agreements, there’s a lot to digest!

For more on music administration, here’s our blog on that topic: http://edwardslaw.ca/music-rights-administration/

For more on music in advertising, here’s our blog on that topic: http://edwardslaw.ca/musician-business-music-ads/

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

Regarding music law, Byron Pascoe works with musicians and music companies to assist with record label agreements, publishing contracts, distribution deals, producer agreements, band agreements, etc.

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Being a Musician is a Business (Publishing Agreements) appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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The two most common ways we work with musicians are (a) to help them understand and negotiate agreements they’re asked to sign, and (b) to prepare agreements musicians want others to sign.

 Here are some general tips that we encourage musicians to keep in mind when negotiating music deals, whether it’s a simple arrangement or a more elaborate agreement, for example with a producer, management company, record label or publisher.

 

You Don’t Need to Sign. Really.

Just because someone wants to do business with you, and offers you an agreement, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to sign it. It’s nice to be recognized. However, you shouldn’t assume the option of walking away from the offer isn’t on the table. It’s generally on the table.

It’s Not Just about $$$

If you’re getting paid, for example as a percentage of sales, from a music distributor or publisher, money is not the only element of the agreement. Other factors from credit to control are very important. As such, when negotiating dollars and cents, be sure not to forget about everything else that can add or remove a lot of value from the professional relationship.

The Main Reason for Signing

When I review agreements, I ask the musician why they want to do business with the other person or company. If that reason isn’t reflected by the agreement, it generally should be. If the company, for example, isn’t willing to integrate a certain request into the agreement, it’s likely because they don’t want to give you what you want to receive. For example, if you want a record label to print vinyl, in addition to distributing your music digitally, and vinyl is absent from the agreement, ask them to include a guarantee of a vinyl run into the contract. If they aren’t willing to accept the request, it’s likely because they don’t intend to actually pay for the vinyl.

Know Your Motivation

Know what you want, and what you are willing to give up, in advance of responding to an offer. Think about what’s important to you, without only reading what the other side is offering. What do other musicians generally get from partners like this? One reason to get advice about an agreement, whether from a fellow musician, manager, lawyer, or all three, is that you know what’s being offered, but you may not know what is missing.

Don’t Make The First Offer

A common negotiation technique is to try to get the other side to make the first offer. This isn’t always possible, but it can be helpful. For example, if your new manager asks what commission you want to provide her, ask her what commission and general formula she thinks is reasonable. What she proposes might be more favourable for you than what you were willing to offer if you made the first move.

 

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Sometimes it’s helpful to ask for more than what you want. That way you can give the other side a win by not accepting something that isn’t as important to you. If you really want items A, B, and C, you might ask for A, B, C, D and E. If the other side says you’ve asked for too much, you can say you’re willing to remove D and E. The risk is that the other side would rather give you D and E instead of A, B and C.

Create Leverage

If you receive an offer, and you already have an offer from someone else, you can use the two offers to help you get a better deal with whichever of the two potential partners you prefer. For example, an agent wants to seek music placement opportunities for you, and offers to pay you 65% of the fees. Another music placement agent offers to pay you 75%. If you really want to work with the first company, you can say that you got offered a deal for 75%, but want to work with them if they can offer you 70%. It’s not guaranteed to work, but the more offers on the table, generally speaking, the more opportunities you have to get the best deal with your preferred partner. Further to the note above that it’s not just about money, there are other elements of such a deal that should be negotiated, including whether or not you get to approve opportunities to place your music.

You’re Not Tired of Waiting. Repeat.

A very common situation is that a musician receives an agreement from a company, asks some questions or makes some requests, and then waits hours, days, weeks, or longer for a response. You aren’t getting a quick response for many potential reasons. Perhaps the company is no longer interested. Perhaps the person handling your file got terminated. Perhaps the company wants you to wait so long that you’ll accept any offer, including the first one they provided, even though you wanted some changes. Agreements can take moments or months to get finalized, and it can be very frustrating to wait. In the meantime, create some more leverage – more reasons why the company should want to work with you, and compensate you appropriately. The leverage may be getting other offers, or sending new music, a tour schedule, and/or more favourable digital numbers. Don’t overwhelm them, but share good news as your follow-up. While the company interested to work with you is a high priority for you, you are one of some or many priorities for the company. If you’re tired of waiting, don’t show it, because you don’t want that company to use it against you in order that you sign a deal you shouldn’t sign. It’s easier said, or written, than done.

Who Else is Signing This Contract?

The most important way artists can protect themselves from being taken advantage of in a business agreement is to do their due diligence on the other side, to get as much information as possible to decide whether you want to do business with that person or company, regardless of the terms of the agreement. As I’ve noted at my music law presentations, it’s better to sign a decent deal with a great partner as compared to a great deal with a not so decent partner.

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Being a Musician is a Business (Music Agreement Tips) appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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How can an entertainment law firm help animators and animation companies?

Here are some of the ways Edwards PC, Creative Law helps animators:

  1. Option Agreements

Have you been offered an option agreement by a production company for your creative concept? We help animators understand the rights they are being asked to provide, and negotiate terms such as the duration of the option period, the option fee (amount and payment terms), the work being done during the development phases, and the roles and fees should the project proceed.

For more information, here’s our option agreement blog – http://edwardslaw.ca/option-agreements/

  1. Service Agreements

You have a small animation team and you been offered the opportunity to provide your team’s services to another production company’s project? Perhaps a producer has obtained financing to produce a series but needs your expertise, people, tools and talents to create the animation. We help animators and small animation teams review and negotiate the service agreements they’re asked to sign, including important issues such as rights, compensation, cash flow, rights to future work, credit, etc.

  1. Co-Creator Agreements

Are you developing a new concept with a fellow animator? We help creators draft and review agreements outlining the rights and obligations of each party to ensure everyone is on the same page, and you can focus on developing a great new idea.

  1. Co-Production Agreements

Are you considering co-producing a project with another company? When is the appropriate time to enter into a short-form memo of understanding or a full-fledged co-production agreement? We help animation companies with these issues, and help to draft and review these agreements, including relevant clauses covering rights and responsibilities of each partner.

For more information, here’s our co-production agreement tips blog – http://edwardslaw.ca/co-pro-agreements/

  1. Cast / Crew Agreements

It’s important to have agreements with everyone who works on your production. For most people you hire, the agreement is simply a way to ensure you’re on the same page about fees and to ensure that you obtain the IP rights that are created by the people you hire. Just as important, these agreements should set out the process of terminating the relationship, either because the work is completed or because it’s not working out. Written agreements help you to avoid disputes but if a dispute develops the agreement should also provide a process to resolve it.

For more information, here’s our blog on the topic of gathering rights (and waiving moral rights) – http://edwardslaw.ca/co-pro-agreements/

  1. Distribution and Sales Agency Agreements

We help animation companies negotiate agreements with distributors and sales agents. Some red flags to look for are inconsistencies between what you are promised and what the distributor or sales agent is willing to put in the agreement, excessive, broadly defined or uncapped expenses, insufficient reporting obligations, audit rights, and termination rights if the distributor or sales agent is not working the property or fails to report or remit on a timely basis.

For more information, here’s our blog on the topic of gathering rights (and waiving moral rights) – http://edwardslaw.ca/sales-agents-and-distributors

  1. Service Agreements

Looking to hire another company to provide services for your project? This is the other side of what we described in $2 above. Some of the areas we focus on when we’re acting for the producer it the statement of work, capturing rights, delivery, schedule, fees, change requests, delays and, most important, termination rights if the service provider just isn’t delivering on time, on quality and on budget.

For more information, here’s our blog covering teen service agreements tips – http://edwardslaw.ca/ask-a-lawyer-ten-service-agreement-tips/

Going Global

Our founding lawyer, Mark Edwards, has also been an animation and game producer – producing over $50M of animated television series and millions of dollars of games. Among the television series, many were international audio-visual treaty co-productions. We provide legal services to international parties, seeking to work with Canadian partners on international audio-visual treaty co-productions as well as projects seeking funding from co-development incentives, such as the international fund Canada Media Fund (CMF) has with a number of other countries – most recently, South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca

© 2018 Edwards PC

* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.

The post Animation Legal Services appeared first on Edwards PC, Creative Law.

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