[Harp-L] Re: Harmonica Documentary Website Update

> That is it. An opportunity for anybody, anywhere to have an original
> song in a movie...is that not enough?

No it is not. Anyone who thinks that his statement makes sense is in for a bitter experience in the music business.

We should presume that this producer means very well and doesn't understand that the sheer ugliness of this "offer" shows tremendous disrespect for harmonica players everywhere.

He probably doesn't realize that anyone who has enough craft to write a piece of material that could actually be of value to this project is almost certainly aware of their rights.

Two paragraphs from their agreement are particularly troubling. First

> "You hereby grant to Omni-Harmonica a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty
> free, worldwide license to use, publicly display, distribute,
> sublicense, modify and otherwise fully exploit any Content that you
> submit to Omni-Harmonica."

The world is crawling with composers who agreed to this kind of thing and then bitterly complain that someone else is making money from their work. It may feel like you're giving your work away free now to get it in a movie, but the first time you hear this music in some other movie or commercial uncompensated, you'll be so angry you'll give up music. Remember, nobody demands all the stuff in that paragraph for their health.

Have you never read an interview with a blues man? I can't think of a blues musician who has actually gotten all the royalties that were coming to them, and none of them mention that not getting paid feels good. Not getting paid is not an honorable tradition, it poisons one's feeling toward the music itself.

> "Omni-Harmonic reserves the right to make changes to any part of this
> Agreement at any time without notification to you. Therefore, you should
> review this Agreement as posted on the Site from time to time."

Does it really have to be said that this is no agreement at all? Consider this: what if you use your song on your own CD? Even if the agreement currently states that you have that right (which it doesn't), the filmmakers can change the agreement anyway they please, and suddenly demand that you pay full royalties for use of the song AND take your name off the songwriter credit.

Arthur Crudup wrote That's Alright Mama, the song that got Elvis Presley's career going. It has sold zillions of copies, without a nickel going to Crudup. The guy who sub-published Elvis Presley's publishing company decided many years after the fact that Crudup should share in the bounty. He invited Crudup to NYC. Crudup came. He sat outside the big man's office. He waited for hours. The Big Man was informed that Mr. Crudup was waiting. The Big Man thought about it for a moment and then said "Tell him to forget about it." Crudup went home empty handed. Do you want to feel what Crudup must have felt?

I'd advise the producer to revise his 'offer' to include an outfront payment of at least $500, a per DVD fee that reflects industry standards, credit on the box and in the credit listings in the film itself. This offer would instantly cancel the insult to the harmonica community that the original offer may be construed as. Why make a documentary about harmonica players and then treat harmonica players like fools who, unlike other musicians, take delight in working for free?

It appears that the producer is saying that simply by submitting your material you agree to his terms, so if you submit your material, you submit it pretty much unconditionally -- you can't even say "If you use my song I must get $500, a per DVD fee and credit."

Again, let's presume that this producer has the very best intentions, and that in his lack of experience he has unintentionally proposed to bamboozle harmonica players out of their rights. Mr. Producer: do the right thing.

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