Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Work-For-Hire Jingle Singing

My staff singers' group in the 70's! (I'm second from the right)
I got a couple of great questions this week from a recording artist/stage performer about doing work-for-hire as a singer. This artist has been getting a lot of calls to do jingles. 
He asks:
If I sign a 'work -for-hire' agreement, does that mean I will not make anything if my voice is on TV... maybe even a big TV show theme? They say they would never sell the song but if I do make it big can they exploit that song and make money because of my fame?
My thoughts:
If you sing jingles as work-for-hire you will get no payment for recurring play of the jingle spots, known as 'residuals'. This kind of deal is also called a ‘buyout’. Payment is negotiated between jingle client and performer, and you must decide if the fee you are offered is worth it to you right now. Buyouts are frequently offered for local and regional spots. But if you sing larger regional, national and international spots as work-for-hire, you are severely underpaid. (I did that in my early pre-union days as staff singer at a jingle company in Memphis and I know this first hand.)

BUT… even if you do a work-for-hire/buyout deal, they should not have the right to use your name or your picture! And… ‘they say they will never’…. HA! NEVER trust something they won’t sign to on paper. Without a signed contract, they can and will use your work, name, picture anywhere they want.

I would advise a consultation with an entertainment attorney who understands the commercial business. You may want to get a simple contract created for your work-for-hire buyout agreement, to protect your name and voice from being exploited. Also be careful singing other people’s song demos, for the same reason.

My solution after many years of doing buyout jingles was to join the union that is now called SAG-AFTRA. http://www.sagaftra.org/ . If you are doing the larger market jingles you really should look into this. The residuals can be extremely lucrative.

If you are writing your jingles, consider those tunes to be … bought out. Here’s a good page to read about jingle writing fees… http://woman.thenest.com/much-jingle-writers-paid-8968.html  If you are allowing parts of your full songs in jingles, make sure you have those songs fully copyrighted, and you should get them to do a synchronization license. Don’t ever just trust the promise ‘we’ll never…’ without a license.

Anyone else care to chime in about work-for-hire singing?

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