Making contract confidential

 
       
 
May 31, 2017, 01:20 PM

Hi
I’m thinking of starting a music project via which I’ll be releasing my music anonymously, so my personal info like my name, surname etc etc will not be revealed to the public.

When I want to hire a singer to record vocals for my song, what clause should I include in the work-for-hire contract between me and the singer, so that she cannot reveal my personal data to the public?

Should I include in the contract also e.g. some fines to be paid by the vocalist/session musician if she reveals my personal info?


Thank you in advance for your help!
Regards

 
     
mylifeismusic Joined Oct 17, 2016
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May 31, 2017, 10:29 PM

This arrangement is too complex to decide on your own or to trust amateur advisors on the internet. Consult a lawyer.

Contracting under an assumed name, without legal status, sounds like a tangled web to begin a venture on. It may be possible within the parameters of legality, but only a lawyer can advise you and make the necessary documentation to assure no crisis in future makes it all come tumbling down. And nobody likes to work on a project only to see it come to a screeching halt because the party they were contracting with didn’t tell them what they were entering into.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Jun 01, 2017, 12:58 AM
Gary E. Andrews - 31 May 2017 10:29 PM

This arrangement is too complex to decide on your own or to trust amateur advisors on the internet. Consult a lawyer.

Contracting under an assumed name, without legal status, sounds like a tangled web to begin a venture on. It may be possible within the parameters of legality, but only a lawyer can advise you and make the necessary documentation to assure no crisis in future makes it all come tumbling down. And nobody likes to work on a project only to see it come to a screeching halt because the party they were contracting with didn’t tell them what they were entering into.


So I can give my pseudonym instead of my real name in the contract with a vocalist?
Have you heard of people doing so?

Btw. is there any online “lawyer service” which is affordable?

 
     
mylifeismusic Joined Oct 17, 2016
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Jun 01, 2017, 08:24 AM

Well first of all, if you are getting a “demo” done of the song, you cannot release that commercially unless you get the permission of the singer. It is a “demo” which is demonstration” of the song, and most singers who do that, are not interested in having their voices used on songs they don’t give permission on. But aside from that, as far as who you are, what you are doing, etc most people will have no interest in that (Unless you are a felon, or someone like Bernie Madoff) that no one wants to be associated with. The fact that you would want to be anonymous, would send up red flags to begin with.

And if you were wanting to include some form of complicated legal contract, with “fines” or any such nonsense, pretty much any studio or singer would walk from that to begin with. Liability in any form now is the fastest way to get a project dropped from even being done.

The final thing is that musicians, singers, etc. are interested in the JOB, and not all the legal mumbo jumbo of things, particularly when it comes to songs that are one of twelve billion a year “released” into the market place. 99.99% of them are never going to receive anything in the way of attention and are forgotten as soon as they are “released.” So you might be overthinking this in the first place.

As Gary said, if you are planning to do something that requires complicated legal explanations, you should consult a lawyer, or team of lawyers before you do that. With as many scams and schemes that are out there, usually you will find that that old saying “Honesty is the best policy” will work best.

MAB

 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jun 01, 2017, 12:04 PM

I don’t think you can use a false name on a contract. On the other hand, you are perfectly free to use a pseudonym on all material related to the song and even on a copyright registration. I have done that for books I wrote, but only because it was more convenient, not because I was trying to be totally secretive about it. Basically everyone will accept the pseudonym without thinking about it, unless you are famous under your own name.
Are you Elton John? :)

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jun 01, 2017, 08:27 PM
Gavin Sinclair - 01 June 2017 12:04 PM

I don’t think you can use a false name on a contract. On the other hand, you are perfectly free to use a pseudonym on all material related to the song and even on a copyright registration.


I meant, can I sign a work-for-hire contract with a vocalist which will have only my artistic pseudonym and email address (without my real name and postal address) ?
So in the contract, under ‘Employer’, I’d hand-write my pseudonym instead of my real name…

Have you used a pseudonym (without your real name) signing some contracts for your books?

 
     
mylifeismusic Joined Oct 17, 2016
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Jun 01, 2017, 08:35 PM
mylifeismusic - 01 June 2017 08:27 PM
Gavin Sinclair - 01 June 2017 12:04 PM

I don’t think you can use a false name on a contract. On the other hand, you are perfectly free to use a pseudonym on all material related to the song and even on a copyright registration.


I meant, can I sign a work-for-hire contract with a vocalist which will have only my artistic pseudonym and email address (without my real name and postal address) ?
So in the contract, under ‘Employer’, I’d hand-write my pseudonym instead of my real name…

Have you used a pseudonym (without your real name) signing some contracts for your books?

No, I’m pretty sure you can’t do that. If you are signing a contract, it would have to be in your name. Why do you want to hide your identity from someone you are working with?

No, I would never have signed a contract with my pseudonym. (And not just because it was a pretty silly sounding pseudonym). I just don’t think I could have done that even if I had wanted to.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jun 01, 2017, 10:11 PM

My Life,

What exactly are you wanting the singer to do? Again, you are talking about “DEMO’S” of the song. That means “DEMONSTRATION.” That is not a “commercially released product.” That is not what these singers are signing on for. If you are the singer, or you are writing with the singer, or if you are pitching songs to the singer, and they agree to “record them”,that is one thing. Hiring someone to be used in a psedonym, etc. is really unethical and borderline illegal. Sorry, but you are probably not going to be able to get away with that.

Think of it from the singer’s point of view for a moment. What if your song is politically, ethically, different than that singer’s beliefs or point of view? What if they really didn’t CARE for your songs outside of collecting a check for the work for hire? I have many times done demos, on songs that I thought “This is HORRIBLE” and was NEVER something I wanted my voice or reputation involved with.

Why would you be using anything besides your name? What are you trying to put together? If you are the artist, you should be using your own name. If you are not the ARTIST, you are simply DEMONSTRATING YOUR SONG. They are NOT YOUR ARTIST. The “work for hire” only goes so far. And that is usually the DEMONSTRATION of the song. That is to “pitch and promote” the song to singers that would be interested in recording your song for commercial release. You are skipping a step.

My point is that I don’t think you can do what you are trying to do. If you explain your situation, and give reasons for not wanting to use your name, and they say “Yes”, well that is fine. But if you are not doing that, and trying to ‘pull something over on singers”, that is not really a good position to start from. Might want to rethink that approach. While it might not be “illegal” it is highly unethical.

MAB

[ Edited: 01 June 2017 10:15 PM by Marc-Alan Barnette]
 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jun 01, 2017, 10:20 PM

When I hire a musician that I don’t know, (and I want my project to stay anonymous), then I think it would be better if the vocalist doesn’t know my personal info (I don’t know if I can trust a stranger on the matter of confidentiality).

1) Have you sign any contract that had some sort of non-disclousure clause? Would such clause be enough to be sure the singer will keep my personal info to herself?

2) Is it possible for a vocalist to sign a work-for-hire agreement which will have only her signature (without mine)?  The contract might specify that the vocalist works for the owner of such and such email address (and I, as the owner of the email address, would have a sufficient proof that I own the vocal recording, as she signed this contract).
Or are signatures of BOTH parties required for a work-for-hire contract to be binding?

 
     
mylifeismusic Joined Oct 17, 2016
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Jun 01, 2017, 11:02 PM

My Life,

Have you actually DONE any recording, or is this your first recording?

First of all, the musicians AND singers are NOT INTERESTED IN YOU OR YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION. Nine times out of ten, unless you are there in the studio, they never meet the client. And you are JUST A CLIENT. Your personal information, is only a name on a check. You are usually one of several jobs they are doing in a day. Most studio players or singers are doing three sessions a day with multiple songs. They only know what you do through the work tapes you give the studio. They have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST in anything except when the check clears.

There most often NO CONTRACTS unless you try to make it complicated. Again, SELLING something for COMMERCIAL purposes is usually NOT what these songs are usually about. That is a different contract and at that point you are going to have to get their permission. And with many singers, particularly in New York and Los Angeles, you would have to go through SAG (Screen Actors Guild) or AFTRA (American Federation of Recording Artists) and that is a BIG TIME DIFFERENT BALL OF WAX. AND MONEY. Your budget will just increase between three and five times.

The entire “Non-Disclosure” agreement, is where you are losing me. What are they going to “disclose?” Who are they going to DISCLOSE IT TO? Who are you? If you are Bernie Madoff, OJ Simpson, Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, etc. there might be some reason to want a “Non-Disclosure” agreement. And in that case, they are not going to work with you anyway. Other than that, unless this is some kind of weird pyramid scheme or some strange thing, they REALLY DON’T CARE.

If you know anything about me, (and I probably guess you don’t) you will probably know I have a PERSONAL experience with pretty much everything. When I started in Nashville, where I moved in 1988, I was first an artist, and like most artists, did a LOT of demos. I was actually pretty well known, and requested quite a few times. Sometimes even by record companies. I was also very close to many record deals, so I had to be somewhat selective in what I participated in.

About 20 years ago, I was hired to do a “work for hire” session. It was five songs on one session. And I was one of about four singers doing all the vocals. As we were all pretty well known for being very fast, (we could come into a session, hear a work tape once or twice, and then nail the vocal) we were all in demand. There were three women and myself and one other male. Like actors, we were all “cast” for our voices. Mine being the rugged, bluesy country voice, the other male, a smooth sounding “New York Pop” voice, the females, teen country, female pop. dance, etc. We all had our little corner of the market.

All the songs had lyrics about a product called “PHEN PHEN” it was a dietary supplement that was all the rage at that time. Phen-Phen was one of these supplements you saw on late night TV and cable commercials. The songs all fit into an EXERCISE VIDEO that was to go with the supplement. It was all dance oriented, “Gotta lose weight with Phen, phen, gotta get fit with phen phen” etc. For all of us there that afternoon we could care less. It was one of those silly commercials you see, and basically switch the channel when it comes on. Even when it popped up in the record stores (yes, we used to have those) and places like Walgreens and other drug stores, we never really paid a lot of attention. We were paid for the day, there was no royalties, and OUR NAMES WERE NEVER USED. It was JUST A GIG.

A few months after it was released, suddenly the news was all over the place that PHEN PHEN WAS KILLING PEOPLE! The FDA pulled it from the market and a bunch of people had bad reactions taking it. A lot of lawsuits, a few deaths and more JUNK. Everything went away, the company folded and of course we were no longer exercise mavens. In that case, I was THRILLED my name was never used. And yes, they were REALLY CRAPPY SONGS!

So, I don’t really know what the deal is with your songs and why all the mystery. But coming from the perspective of a demo singer and artist I don’t think there would be any reason for them to care anything about your background, your personal life history, or anything about you.
You are a CLIENT. Not much else involved there.

MAB

 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jun 01, 2017, 11:02 PM
Marc-Alan Barnette - 01 June 2017 10:11 PM

My Life,
MAB

I think you misunderstood me.
I never mentioned here anything about hiring a singer for making a DEMO of a song…

I’m talking here about hiring a singer to record a vocal for my song on a work-for-hire basis. So it’s implied that the singer (signing a work-for-hire contract) transfers all her rights to her vocal recording to me, and that I can use the vocal recording however I want (I can release, sell my songs which feature this vocal recording etc, etc).

All this is 100% legal. As far as I know, hiring a singer as a work-for-hire, I CAN but DON’T HAVE TO credit her for the vocal performance, am I right?

 
     
mylifeismusic Joined Oct 17, 2016
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Jun 01, 2017, 11:08 PM

If it’s clearly stated in the contract that the singer grants you all rights to her performance, then I don’t see anything wrong or illegal about that. It may not be the usual way these things are done, but if she agrees and the terms are clear, then why not?

I still think you would have to sign the contract in your real name though.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jun 01, 2017, 11:15 PM

I thought I answered that. I would think you have to DISCLOSE what you are planning to do with their voices. There are multiple RATES for this and different contracts for COMMERCIAL RELEASE than demo. At that point, you are into a different thing and it is more to do with MONEY than YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION. You would have to ask the singer, their manager, publishers, the studio, etc. If they are involved with AFTRA OR SAG, you will have to deal with that and pay the additional fees. Basically if you have enough MONEY you can do pretty much what you want.

Personally, I think you are reading WAY TOO MUCH into this. You seem to have some idea that people really care about who you are, or what you are trying to do. They really don’t. Unless it is something that makes them look bad, or you are doing unethical or illegal things, you are a client with some songs they sing in a 30 minute to 1 hour session and the chances are pretty good that they will never have a thought about you or even hear the song ever again after that.

You should be asking these questions of your contact person that is guiding the session for you. That would be the proper channels for your project.

MAB

 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jun 03, 2017, 03:11 AM

Dear Marc-Alan Barnette, are you aware that some artists may want to release their music anonymouslty esimply because they’re sick of the vein chase for fame, when a ‘artist’ cares more about what to do to become famous more than what to do to create great music?  There’s nothing bad in wanting to stay anonymous…

I wrote to the vocalist that I want her to record for me a vocal and I want her to transfer to me all the rights to the recording - I’m completely open about what I want to do with the vocal. (and btw. I don’t need to pay any extra fees for releasing my song with the vocal, because it’s a work-for-hire and I can do with the vocal recording whatever I want).


Alright, I started this thread cause I assume you guys have seen a lot in the music industry…

1) Do you have any knowledge about how anonymous artists function in the music industry? How they sign contracts etc etc
2) While collaborating with musicians, do they include some clause that they ask the musicians not to reveal their identity to the public?

Let’s say I gain some success with my anonymous project. Then the vocalist featured on my song (who is a poor student, not a ‘session-musician-star’) gets so exited that she sang on this song played on the radio that she reveals my name on forums etc…
So if I want to stay anonymous, it makes sense to be somehow protected from a possibility that such excited vocalist will break my plan regarding how I want to share my music with the world.
Therefore, I wanted to get some advice from you about how I could legally ensure that stranger vocalists I’d like to collab with don’t reveal my personal data - do you have any advice?

 
     
mylifeismusic Joined Oct 17, 2016
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Jun 03, 2017, 05:41 PM

Hello,

Sorry, I have been away from my computer for two days due to family business in Alabama.

I must admit, you seem to be talking about a music business I have no idea of. There has never to my knowledge been an artist who wishes to remain “anonymous” since “The Misterians” in the 60’s. “99 tears.” Other than that, the VERY IDEA of being an artist is to get known by as many people as possible, so I have no idea who you would find that would be doing that. Just can’t see anyone coming out with a “HERE I AM, NOW FORGET YOU HAVE SEEN ME!” Approach. Interesting, but doubt it would go very far.

And at 30-50 million artists and around one billion songs a month released to Internet, with 12 billion a year, around 500 are financially viable. Most are forgotten almost as soon as they are “released.” And with songs getting 20-200 million streams earning less than $1000, remaining unknown is a pretty easy thing to accomplish.

As for you and your identity, you will probably have no problem there as it is ARTISTS that get attention, not songs. Radio would not play a song without an artist. And if it is the way you are describing it, you are NOT the ARTIST. You are the WRITER, and writers are NEVER even acknowledged outside of small groups of people interested in the “behind the scenes” of a song and an artist. In most music videos, the writers are not even listed. At that point, you might have to deal with it, my guess would be not.

The reality is that unless you have a really big hit, the point will probably be moot. Unless something is bringing in money, (and remember, we are in the era of FREE music) so there would not be anything to even be concerned with in the first place.

As a WRITER, if you were to bring some form of complicated contract on something as nebulous as a song, aside from being laughed at, the singer as well as the studio would probably not work with you. Again, so you would be back to ground zero.

If you were to not tell them what you are doing, and if you somehow scored a placement in television, motion pictures, etc. you would be responsible for renumerating the studio for additional fees. And again, if the singer was involved in AFTRA or SAG, you could be sued for additional funds or receive a “cease and desist” order.

Of course all of these are simply hypotheticals and my guess is you are really not going to have to deal with any of them. Most industry people would tell you to “go ahead and do whatever and deal with the consequences down the road”, because these people see thousands upon thousands of these “high level” projects a year, and none of them really go anywhere. The cost of doing business (record companies spend millions of dollars developing and promoting songs and artists a year, and unless you are spending that kind of money, it is doubtful you will be anywhere near that.) Online only marketing, while a great idea, rarely pans out because there is so much of a glut of product. So again, it comes back to artists, and well… you are back to square one. Getting an artist to agree to your “terms.”

So to answer your questions directly:

#1. I have never even heard of an anonymous artist. It runs counter to the idea of the music business.

#2. As I stated, unless you are involved with a major label, in which this is all going to be on a different ball field and there would be more lawyers than players involved in it, that you would have to deal with, there aren’t any “clauses” or contracts, past a simple, “they do the work, you pay them, end of story.” Contract.

I don’t know about any of these things because no one that I’ve ever known would even be interested in doing anything like it. In a business built to GET attention, it would never even be considered. It would seem to me that you are already cashing the checks on a song that has not done anything yet. I would say it’s all a bit premature. But good luck. Sounds like you have an interesting approach.

MAB

[ Edited: 03 June 2017 05:44 PM by Marc-Alan Barnette]
 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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