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I was recently approached by a film producer and asked if I'd be happy to have my songs being used for their film (80mins). I agreed as it's a great way to promote your music. But they asked me what's my expected income from that and I have no idea how much I should charge them. The tracks are my original works, unreleased so there is no problem with getting in touch with a record label etc. Then also comes the royalties etc.. Can someone explain to me how it all works?

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Usually the musician and the film producer come into contact through a publisher that arranges the deal (and gets a cut which is rather large nowadays).

You can be your own publisher in this individual case, which means you have to negotiate the terms by which you make your music available to them. There are draft contracts floating around on the web, so if you google for them, you might find some examples on what goes into such a contract. Some things that should be covered:

  • exclusivity or non-exclusivity (will they be the only ones that are allowed to use the music or will you also sell/license it to other parties?);
  • payment (It is customary that the songs are licensed for a fixed fee, and not for a percentage of something. How much you can ask for a song greatly depends on your track record, 'famousness' and the budget of the film producer. It may be a couple of hundred bucks for a song to a few thousand).
  • royalties are usually handled by the collecting agency of your country, if both you and the film maker are registered to them (check out
  • the publishing scope (only for this movie or are they allowed to use it for other productions as well? And what about trailers and 'making ofs'?);
  • the publishing medium (dvd, online, but maybe also a separate soundtrack);
  • the publishing timeframe (this should include something about possible rereleases);
  • the publishing location (think about international releases);

Many of these items may be a matter of negotiation. In any case, it might be useful to get professional advice from a specialist that can help you establish the terms of the deal.

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Thanks for the comprehensive answer! – Kurt Human May 9 '11 at 10:51

Hi, This is my day job. It entirely depends on the budget of the film, how much of your track is used, and most importantly - how 'well known' or unreplaceable the track is. If you can get back to me on a few of those questions I might be able to help.

Tom (cutting edge group)

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