Questions To Ask When Signing Exclusive Deals

Posted by Aaron Davison on Saturday, January 18, 2014 Under: January 2014

In today’s post I’m going to touch on an issue that I’ve addressed before and get asked about frequently, which is the topic of signing exclusive deals. I’ve licensed a fair amount of music via a publisher that I have an exclusive arrangement with, so I’m certainly open to this arrangement.  But there are a lot of factors to consider before signing this type of deal. 

This issue has hit closer to home recently as I’m in the process of actively pitching new material of my own and have been getting some offers to sign exclusively with a few different places.

Here are the questions and issues I evaluate when deciding whether or not to sign an exclusive deal with someone:

1)    What is the company or person’s tracks record?

If I’m going to enter into an exclusive arrangement with someone I want to know what their track record of placing music is.  Do they have a long history of placing lots of music? If so, this is clearly a positive sign that will factor heavily in my decision.  On the other hand, if they’ve only had a few placements or have only been in business for a short time, I’d be very reluctant to give them my songs exclusively.  I want to know that the odds of getting my music placed are stacked in my favor and one of the best indicators of this is how much music they’ve actually placed.

2)    Do they have a specific project or projects in mind they want to pitch my music to?

When I signed my first exclusive deal in 2002, my publisher had a specific project in mind that she thought my music would be a good fit for.  After I signed our contract, I had my first placement about three weeks later.  This is a question I always ask when I’m offered exclusive deals.  If they don’t have anything specific in mind or if there answer is vague, I don’t automatically decline, but I’m certainly less excited.  To me, if there’s no specific idea of where my music will be pitched it says to me that they just want to grow their catalog for future projects which my music may or may not be a good fit for.   This isn’t an indication my music won’t be licensed, but chances are it won’t be placed right away if they have no specific projects to pitch my music to.

3)    What do they think my chances of having my music placed are?

No one in this business can guarantee you placement until your music is actually pitched and accepted.  But If I’m going to give someone exclusive rights to my tracks I want to get a feel for how likely they think it is they’ll be able to place my tracks.  I’m looking to see how enthusiastic they are about my music. Do they think there’s a strong demand for what I’m doing stylistically? Again, there are no guarantees, but a good publisher can make an educated guess.

4)    What other offers do I have on the table?

When I’m pitching new music, there are usually at least a few dozen places I’m reaching out to.  Ultimately, it’s about signing the best deal with the best company at any given time.  The bottom line is I want to sign with whoever I think I’ll have the best chances of getting my music licensed through.  At the end of the day, If I think a company that requires exclusivity will have a better chance at placing my music then that’s the company I’ll go with.

In : January 2014 

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