Today, every mainstream artist releases a remix album for their popular singles.
These albums feature many remix artists trying to get a piece of the streaming numbers from the original track.
Remixes have become a universal part of the listening experience.
Bootleg remixes are mostly posted on user-generated content platforms like YouTube.
Authentic remixes created with much effort, proper rights management, and splits are posted on major streaming platforms, tagging both artists.
However, steering through copyright law, labels, and negotiations requires understanding the critical considerations in closing a remix deal.
This article will explore the ins and outs of remix deals, shedding light on everything from permits to royalty splits.
What is a Remix Deal?
At its core, a remix deal refers to a contractual agreement between the original track artist and the remixing artist to create a new version of an existing song.
The agreement defines the terms that enable the remixer to access, alter, and release the original artist’s intellectual property copyright laws.
Unlike cover songs that recreate melodies, a remix uses the original sound recording and composition. Clearing the rights to both is paramount.
Why Seek a Deal?
If you’re an original artist, especially if you’re looking to extend the life of your hit song, offering an official remix can breathe new life into your track and boost its visibility.
Also, it lets you maintain control over your work, unlike those unauthorized “bootleg” remixes.
If you’re a remixing artist, especially an emerging D.J. or producer, an official remix deal offers you a chance to gain exposure by piggybacking off a well-known tune.
Sometimes, collaborating with a renowned artist can validate and elevate your career.
For both parties, adequately structured remix deals ensure fair attribution and compensation.
Permission Is Crucial When Releasing a Remix
The fundamental principle governing remix deals is consent.
Remixers require express permission from original artists to access and alter their intellectual property.
This permission must be granted by licenses that cover both the sound recording rights, usually owned by labels, and the publishing rights, owned by music publishers.
In the U.S., the Harry Fox Agency assists with publishing licenses for the underlying composition.
Master-use licenses come directly from labels.
Many distributors can now obtain both automatically for nominal fees.
However, written permission is still golden. Unapproved use risks takedown notices or even lawsuits.
Contract Defines the Parameters of the Deal
Once initial consent is obtained, the finer details of the agreement must be defined through contracts.
While terms vary, several key provisions appear frequently in remix agreements:
Scope of License Granted: Defines the permissions to use, edit, and distribute the remix. It may be limited or broad.
Exclusivity Clause: Specifies whether the remix will be available to other artists concurrently. Exclusive remixes command higher fees.
Territory of Release: Outlines the geographic regions where the remix can be distributed. It’s often worldwide.
Term Length: Sets the duration that the agreement will be in effect, typically 2-5 years.
Credits and Attributions: Lists all writers, producers, and performers to be credited.
Royalty Splits: Determines the percentage share that each party will receive. 50/50 is common.
Mechanical Royalty Rate: Sets the per unit rate, typically 9.1 cents for songs under 5 minutes.
Payment Terms: Defines payment timelines, recoupable expenses, and advances.
Reversion of Rights: Dictates what happens upon expiration of the term length.
Negotiating Remix Deals
Remix deals require careful negotiations to arrive at amenable terms.
These tips can help navigate the process:
- Seek representation from managers, lawyers, and publishers to negotiate the right terms.
- Be clear about must-haves versus negotiating points. Prioritize deal breakers.
- Establish open communication channels and give adequate decision time.
- Research their previous deals and compare them with industry standards.
- Compromise where possible; perfectly equal terms are rare.
- Define everything clearly in writing to prevent misunderstandings.
Royalties: Who Gets What?
One of the most complex areas of remix deals is royalty splits.
Master rights owners (labels, artists) collect royalties whenever the remix generates sales or streams.
The remixer should receive a negotiated share of these master recording royalties.
Songwriting royalty-collection agencies pay out whenever the composition underlying the remix gets licensed or publicly performed.
Remixers don’t typically receive a share of publishing royalties unless they contributed to the songwriting.
Mechanical royalties are paid out for reproducing and distributing compositions embodied in remixes.
The remixer receives a negotiated portion, with the songwriter(s) receiving the bulk.
For emerging remixers, accepting an upfront flat fee in exchange for rights is common.
But for established names, royalty-sharing agreements are preferable to ensure fair pay.
If you want the bucks, keeping an eye on accounting is critical.
Best Practices for Artists
What should both original artists and remixers keep in mind when exploring deals?
Here are some best practices:
- Research prospective partners thoroughly and align with shared creative visions.
- Consult lawyers to draft or review agreements carefully.
- Be reasonable during negotiations. Win-win deals have the most longevity.
- Keep communication open throughout the process.
- Register copyrights formally via the U.S. Copyright Office to protect rights.
- Join a performance rights organization (PRO) like ASCAP or BMI to administer royalty collection.
- Keep accurate records of contracts, royalty statements, and permissions.
Like much of the music industry, remix deals are complex but navigable.
You use Creative Commons licensed songs to remix songs without getting into legal stuff.
But if you want a piece of those good tunes, you must work out agreements with the artists and labels.
Directly working with artists is the best way. Maybe you can ask your artist friends.
Understanding contract provisions and strategically negotiating terms can go a long way in creating mutually beneficial collaborations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do artists get paid for remixes?
Yes, artists can get paid for authorized song remixes through various methods, most commonly by negotiating an upfront flat fee for granting remix rights or arranging for royalty splits stipulated in the remix agreement contract. However, proper licensing permissions and clearly defined deals are imperative for artists to be fairly compensated for remix work.
Can I sell a remix of a song?
You can sell a remix of a song, but only if you first obtain the proper licensing permissions and clearance rights from the original artist, songwriters, publishers, and copyright holders of both the master recording and underlying composition. These permissions must be granted in writing before commercially releasing, distributing, or selling the remix. Creating a remix without authorization for educational or noncommercial use may be permissible, but selling the work would require explicitly negotiated rights and agreements.
How much does a song remix cost?
The cost of a song remix can vary substantially based on the original artist’s popularity, the licensing deal’s specifics, and whether compensation involves upfront fees or royalty shares. Most underrated producers get remix licenses sorted in $100 – $3000. Established producers often earn higher four or five-figure payouts. Top remixers may negotiate royalty splits, reaching 50% of remix master and mechanical royalties. The exact remix price depends on negotiations, industry leverage, and demand for particular artists.