Artist wants money from free music video

Viewing 6 reply threads
  • Author
    • #89387

      My company shot a free music video for a musician and they not want to be paid by us for the money earned from the video on YouTube. They have claimed the YouTube video from their YouTube network and reuploaded the video to their channel and removed our logo from the work.

      – we approached the artist to shoot their music video
      – they accepted to shoot the music video (which i would think implys use of the song)
      – they accepted us to upload the video to our channel (I have written proof of this but it’s not a signed contract)

      I’m familiar with copyright law with audio visual works and music.

      From my understanding. We own the video, since we approached the artist (this was not a work for hire). The artist obviously owns the rights to the song but since they agreed to the music video production I would think that implys use of the sound recording (I’m not sure how you shoot a music video without a song).

      I have been seeking help from lawyers but most reply with “I should have gotten a contract signed”. Which is not really helpful.

      My question is, are my rights protected in this scenario? Do I owe the artist any money? And should I counter claim their copywrite claim on our channel and flag the artists channel for copywrite infringement by uploading the video?

      Thanks in advance

    • #213698
      Kevin Mc

      Was the music they played original, or covers of other band’s songs. If covers – no one gets paid. If originals, the lawyers are correct – you needed a contract. Essentially, you’re making money from someone else’s music. I am both a pro videographer and a musician. I record bands often. If it’s a paid gig (recording the video and audio) I let the artist upload it to their channel. I will wait for them to upload it, then I’ll upload the same video to my channel – to show off to future/potential clients. From what I’ve seen, YouTube gives favor in their search results to the version that was uploaded first. If you’re not making much $$ from their video (and I’m sure you’re not), let the band have it and avoid going to court. Chalk it up to experience. Some people are just greedy. But, if the music is all original (they wrote the songs), they would (I think) have the right to any royalties earned. Use a contract next time 🙂

    • #213711

      You’ve done exactly what other people have done and got stuck. You sought permission to shoot the video and stick it on youtube. That is fine. However, although YOU own the video because you shot it, they own the rights to exploit their performance, not you. Unless you agreed the money and rights in some evidential form – written or oral, they can’t use the video without your permission and you can’t use their performance. I don’t know where you are, but in the UK this is how it is. I own loads of stuff I’ve recorded the audio and visuals for over the years, but in virtually all of them, I do not own the rights to the performance, so if the singer says NO, I cannot do anything with it at all – and in two cases, have a solicitors letter informing me that I have not got permission to exploit (the legal term for use) it.

      If they used the video without permission, AND by removing your logo, made a conscious decision to set aside your rights, a court would probably agree that you had your rights compromised. Clearly, they are lacking in at the very least, morals. You could insist they remove the video as they do not have rights and Youtube will do this if you make them aware, and explain they removed your copyright notice. They will tell you that you cannot use their performance. Both are sadly correct. It’s going nowhere unless you can negotiate with them.

    • #213719

      Good Evening Paulears, I will be graduating in May (BA in Film Studies) of this year and would like to get some work under my belt. And I thought the best way to do this, to like Bzmoney, is to capture some music video for groups and get permission to film them. I’m sixty years of age, so this is all new to me. Reading over your answer to BZMoney, if I ask to get permission to film them would this be a verbal contract? I thought this would be a good way build my portfolio. So my quest is to approach different groups, singer, etc. for free. What do you think?

    • #213720

      There’s one more leg of the triangle, you need a “Synchronous License” in addition to any of the above. This allows a song or music to be used “in synch” with your images. The performance is one thing, the music another, and the music in synch with video constitutes the third. The music publisher can release these rights without dealing with the band, or in the case of a garage band, maybe they can release it (but for sure not if it is a cover of a song by an another group). The other need is for a Master Use license, in the case of music prerecorded (Maybe a 50’s hit). Get it from the copyright holder, usually the publisher.
      Not related to music videos, use of Needle drop music is the exception, or if you have a band make up the music and perform it for you under a (“For Hire” agreement) releasing any rights to the music to you. Even then, I’d get signed releases on everything. No signatures, you are basically out of luck.

    • #213724

      That’s true of signed artistes in some territories, but rights are tradable. The sync licenses and similar things are just convenience package that the big boys use to differentiate the different products.

      Carol – if your verbal contract needs a bit more substance, then continue the discussion via email or text where there is a record.

      If the band write their own material, and then perform it, then they are the only entity you need to deal with if they are not signed. One quite reasonable offer to make is to share any profit made by your product. You can offer it to them for marketing, and not charge them for production, but agree that you will split the net profit, and you do the same – if you make anything from them, you give them 50%. If neither of you do anything with it, then that’s it. They give you permission to use their performance and their music, and you give them the permission to use your contribution to the product.

      It gets complicated when a signed band are involved, and worse if they play covers. Depending on what you want to do, in the UK you can license small production runs relatively cheaply if you fit certain criteria. Have a look at the PRS website for limited manufacture licenses and see if they’d fit? This is the only sensible way to do it if the band play other people’s music. I don’t think the US have an equivalent of this license type?

      It’s possible to still mess it up if you use controlled music – that is music that PRS cannot simply license, as they only have the rights for most music – Disney, Abba and a few other music producers protect their music themselves. This means talking to them, and they might say yes, they may say yes for £X, or might just say no.

      US and UK rules are similar, but different in the detail. It’s tricky to have a proper agreement to do things that are technically illegal – the band might tell you it’s fine, but the publisher of the material is usually the one blamed, and that would NOT be them.

    • #214131

      From what I understand, as long as the artist’s song is on the music video, you don’t have any rights to make any money off the video. So techinically, without a contract from the artist, giving you rights to the song, you can’t upload it to youtube. Well, you can.. but due to the copyright laws, you can’t monetise the video.

      If you intend to make money of an artists song, always make sure you get them to sign over all rights to the video before making any recordings. Or just pay them for their work. Paying an artist to perform on your video will actually give you complete rights over the video.

    • #214040

      Hello, Kevin, I’m a first-time documentarian and wish to upload music that is quote unquote free to finish my family documentary. So far, I only have one song that I would like to apply to my finish film, it’s called “We do we go from here created produce the the Enchamtments in 1978. With all of this being said, how do one reach out to an artist or the family members to get the rights to use the songs in my film. Also, is there such sites that are free to use music material and if so do you know of any I could use?


      Carol Jackson

    • #214045

      If you are in the US or the UK, then you approach the big copyright controlling companies – PRS/PPL in the UK. They will licence the track for you. It won’t necessarily be affordable. Like all rights in music, images, text etc, the fee depends on exposure. Quantity of people seeing/hearing it and the medium. In the UK we do have some schemes that cover music on CD/DVD that simplify it. In short, it isn’t going to be free. The exception would be if the rights holders assign you permission to use it. This does happen for projects they might support from time to time. It’s their products and they can do whatever they like with it. Be aware that they might do it officially, and you might need to pay the costs of drawing up a contract, even for a freebie, while some might tell you to just use it. If you ask for that in writing, they say no. Welcome to the whacky world of rights control! I wanted to use a very short clip from a well know piece of music. The amount due would have been £50. Drawing up a contract would cost £75, so they said just don’t tell us. I didn’t, just keeping the date and time of the conversation and the persons name. Probably dodgy in court, but I risked it. There’s a lovely tale of somebody from the UK rights agent going on holiday abroad and seeing an advert for a well known musical their company have the right to, they queried it. Turned out it was being put on by a friend of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mother – and she said he wouldn’t mind! Might be apocryphal but a good tale!

Viewing 6 reply threads
  • The forum ‘Video and Film Discussion’ is closed to new topics and replies.


Panasonic LUMIX GH5s w/ Leica lens

Given away to one lucky winner

Competition is open worldwide