Kill Fee

In the context of the music business, a “kill fee” can be a contractual provision that offers protection to songwriters, composers, and musicians when their commissioned work is not used or released. This provision is particularly relevant when artists are hired to create songs or music for a specific project, such as a film, television show, or commercial.


Imagine a scenario where a composer is commissioned to write a musical score for a film. As part of the contract negotiation, they may include a “kill fee” clause. This clause would state that if, for any reason, the film production decides not to use the composer’s music (perhaps due to changes in the film’s direction or budget constraints), the composer will still receive compensation for their work.


Kill fees are a way to ensure that composers and musicians are compensated for their creative efforts, even if the music they’ve composed is ultimately not used in the final production due to factors beyond their control. This compensation can provide financial security for music professionals who rely on commissioned work as a significant part of their income.