FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who owns the song (backing track) when it is purchased?
When you purchase a song, Add A Lyric, LLC (Writer: Monty Smith) retains the rights to the instrumental track version of the song and grants you, the purchaser, the non-exclusive rights to include the backing track in the creation of a new song. By adding new lyrics and recording vocals you are creating a NEW song. Because you have purchased the backing track from Add A Lyric, you are the sole owner of the NEW song.
Who names the new song?
You do! We assume you’d want to name it something that applies to the lyrical content. It does not need to reference the original backing track name either.
Can I add additional instruments to the backing tracks?
Yes, you can add additional instruments along with your new vocals. However, you cannot add new instruments to the backing track and resell, lease, rent or release it as a new derivative work without adding lyrics & melodies. If you are planning on using samples, make sure they are copyright free, or cleared for use, or you will run in to plagiarizing issues, similar to stealing lyrics & melodies (see below).
Are there limitations to how many times I can write & record lyrics for the same backing track?
No limitations and no additional fees, and that is the beauty of Add A Lyric tracks! When you first buy a track it might be because a National Ad needs an Indie Rock song that talks about “completing goals and having fun” so you write, record & submit that version under the name “Monkey Business”. A month later an independent film needs an Indie Rock song about “finding a lost love in the big city” so you write new lyrics to the same backing track, record the new melody & submit that version under the name “Second Chances”. Just imagine being able to quickly write and submit so many new songs to all those opportunities that you previously missed!
What if more than one person works on the lyrics and/or melody?
No additional purchases of licenses from Add A Lyric are required by extra writers, as long as you are listed as a co-writer and part of the writing team that will be submitting the track for consideration & royalty payments. The breakdown of publishing, royalties and compensation is between you and the co-writers. If you purchased it and “lent” it to someone else to write & sing over, then they will need to purchase the song themselves to get a license. Remember that we made the prices economical so this won’t be a large burden. See below for more info on unauthorized use.
What Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) programs do your backing tracks import to?
Our tracks are available in a few different formats. So any DAW that will accept a WAV or MP3, which is pretty much anything released in the past 10 years, should work fine.
What are the limitations of who I can pitch the song to?
No limitations. You can submit the songs to anyone, and you can submit the same songs to the same placement agency, like Taxi.com. In fact, that happens all of the time. A Country Song about “driving your Chevy pickup across country” could be used for many different scenarios over the course of a few years. So hang on to those tracks & re-use them!
Who pays for fees to get the completed song placed, like Taxi submission fees?
You do. The way we help you is to keep the cost of the tracks low so that you still have the budget to cover those fees, which are low anyway. We keep subscriptions so we can submit custom work as well as keep an eye on what is being requested. That way we can add new material that will be relevant. Just like you, we love to write!
Do you ever place songs that were written this way?
We don’t handle the placement of songs for you. We leave that to services like Taxi because they have real opportunities & they are an excellent resource. If you don’t subscribe to them yet, you should.
Can I resell the backing tracks I purchase as-is?
No, you cannot resell the tracks (user to user) or lend them to other artists for their productions. You cannot market them as your own backing tracks for other writers or as tracks for other productions. You cannot submit the tracks to 3rd parties including (but not limited to) music libraries, music supervisors, or agencies as-is, they must have additional lyric recorded content added to them. In addition, you cannot add additional instruments only to create a new track, you must have lyrics/melody added.
The Ad Agency only needs a 30 second spot, can I edit the new song in shorter or longer versions?
Yes, you can edit the song to fit the pitch and/or your lyrics. You can make multiple length versions as well, for different uses.
What if the Music Library/TV Show/Movie needs both a vocal & instrumental version?
On rare occasions a production will need both versions so that they can use the vocal version for non dialog sections, and then drop the vocal and use the instrumental when there is dialog. The answer is YES, it is OK to provide the song in both forms, however, this is technically 2 separate songs, the instrumental is the Add A Lyric track and should be credited as such, and the vocal song is the other song (that you named). Royalties & upfront fees are to be distributed according to the use of each song and writer’s percentages, which is you 100% of the lyrical version and Monty Smith 100% of the instrumental version.
The library says the song must be “exclusive” to them for placement. Is that OK?
That is entirely up to you. Many writers do both exclusive & non exclusive deals. Both have their strengths & weaknesses. Keep in mind that you will be choosing the exclusivity of the NEW song you created using our backing track, however, the original backing tracks will not be exclusive.
Some of your backing tracks sound similar to the chord progression of a popular song, is that legal?
This happens all the time in the music world, it is nearly impossible to write a brand new “never heard before” chord progression. When you browse a catalog of thousands of tracks, chances are you might hear something that sounds like another artist’s chord changes. It isn’t intentional; we want all musicians & writers to get their fair share of royalties for songs they’ve written. However, there is a psychological reason why certain chord changes are used more than occasionally. Certain changes are sad, some happy, some powerful, melancholy etc.. We want you to leverage the same psychological tools that popular composers have been using for years. And, the good news is chord changes cannot be copyrighted, so we are free to sell these and you are safe to use them on your song creations.
What if the purchaser (me) takes an existing lyric and sings it over the top of your backing track, or takes an existing melody and sings it over a familiar sounding chord progression?
This is a BAD IDEA. If you plagiarize the melody and/or lyrical content of another artist, you will be liable for all damages incurred in such an endeavor, regardless of whether our tracks were used or not. Since Add A Lyric, LLC is providing just the backing tracks with the chord changes and has no control over what happens once the track is purchased, we will not be held responsible if you choose to rip someone off.
Why do you use Street Names for the backing tracks?
Early in the writing process for these initial tracks, it was discovered that coming up with meaningful names for a bazillion tracks that had no lyrics was nearly impossible. At first we used code names, like 10-15-13CountryC135 just to keep from over-writing files, but that turned out to be a headache. After taking a step back, we realized that using the names of streets was a metaphor for what the musical tracks provide. Streets are the foundation of a neighborhood, the place where stories are made. On our streets, people fall in and out of love, dream of better times, cry about loss, celebrate life, talk about hitting the open road, have spiritual awakenings, choose to revolt, or party, or fall in love again. It’s up to you. Your lyrics & melody tell the story of what happens on our streets. Get it?
Who and how do I notify when the new song is created?
You do not need to notify Add A Lyric of new songs you’ve created, although we love to hear what you are doing! The only time notification matters is if the original backing track (without lyrics) will be placed or sold as part of your placement. You then need to make sure we are credited properly & funds are distributed (if any funds are received at that time).
How does it work for broadcast royalties?
Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) like ASCAP & BMI are the agencies that gather broadcast and performance royalties. They also distribute the revenue based on complex algorithms. When they distribute the royalties, they are split down the middle between the publisher(s) & the writer(s). Publisher percentages and writer percentages each get on half of the income. They word it slightly differently, in their terms, they say “Writers get 100% of the writer’s share and Publishers get 100% of the Publishers share”, which makes it a little easier to keep track of once those shares start getting split. Google ASCAP & BMI for more information.
How do I give or show credits for the new song?
Check with your PRO on the best way to register your new songs & credit the writers/publishers.
Sometimes there are up-front fees or buy-out for the music placement, is that OK to do?
Yes, receiving up-front fees, placement fees, sync fees and/or selling the new song outright will happen on occasion. In this scenario, all fees for the new song are yours. Don’t forget that Up-front fees are separate from broadcast fees.
Any hidden fees I don’t know about?
No, we are trying to keep this as simple as possible; hopefully this will lead to great songs getting amazing placements, and everyone sharing in the rewards.
Isn’t there a risk that the backing track I used will also be on other people’s songs?
Yes, that is the nature of non-exclusive backing tracks. But it is the only way to keep costs down. If we were to charge exclusive use per song it would be in the thousands, and that doesn’t help anyone. Thankfully, there are lots of tracks, styles, keys & tempos to choose from. More importantly, you could take a hundred different writers and have them compose to the same backing track and get a hundred different melodies and stories, so it’s really up to you to make it unique enough to stand out from the rest.
What if I don’t want the backing track used outside of my song? Can I buy it outright?
We don’t offer that service to any of the existing tracks. Once it is available as non-exclusive it has to stay that way.
What happens if I use your music but I didn’t actually purchase it?
In today’s digital age this is super easy to do, and the temptation is always there. We get that and we’ve priced the tracks at a point where it is much easier & safer just to purchase the tracks and not worry about legal repercussions later. We use the purchase price to recoup expenses for creating the tracks, and if everyone decided to steal the tracks we’d close up shop and move on, there wouldn’t be any point in providing a product any longer. But more importantly, keep in mind that the backing tracks are published and Copyrighted so using the tracks for a song without purchasing it is no different than “borrowing” a Rolling Stones or Coldplay song and adding new lyrics. The same laws apply and normally the artists who’ve used backing material unlawfully end up losing everything they’ve worked for, so it just isn’t worth it. Look it up, you’ll see what we mean, it gets ugly.
How do you know if I submitted the instrumental version of a song but didn’t credit you?
Modern technology handles all of that. Music recognition software will identify the tracks and report the usage back to Add A Lyric LLC, from there we can check the data against cue/usage sheets. We can also check with the production team that created the production. At the same time we will check it against backing track purchases to confirm licenses.
Do I need to be a writer with any of the Performing Rights Organizations like ASCAP or BMI?
Yes, if you want to collect broadcast royalties on the backend. It is easy.
What about Publishing?
How you choose to publish your new song is entirely up to you. In our opinion, if you do not have a publishing company, you should create one. Google ASCAP & BMI resources for more info.
The music library or production requires that they want a cut of the publishing, is that possible?
This happens occasionally. Since you own the new song, publishing is entirely up to you. If it is required to split publishing to get a song placed, you can. We do not need to be contacted.
Who handles submitting the forms for the Publishing?
You should, that way you will receive your portion of the broadcast fees. Sometimes, not always, those fees can be more than your up-front fees collected.
Can I use the songs for a commercial release, like a CD?
Yes, and there are no additional fees for any CD or digital commercial releases such as ITunes or CD Baby. If you want, you can give us songwriting credits for the release, but you don’t need to. Also, you’ll still want to publish it, just in case it gets used for any uses outside of the CD/digital release.