How does a recording contract works between Artists and Record Labels
Written by Christopher Odiley on 14th Apr 2022
Whats in a Recording Contract? Do you really want this recording contracts or you just wanna burn it down? These questions are really mind bugling but worth asking for out of curiosity.
As an ‘ol Gee in this music business, I have heard thousands of young artists coming to me over the years saying: “I want a record deal”, don’t you sign artists”? Get me a recording deal, am the best”, and so on and so forth. But to be honest, none has ever asked me, “Hey, am curious, whats actually in a record deal”?
Let’s imagine that a miracle has happened and you have a big-label recording contract in your hands. You want to sign it because you and your band mates have been working your butts off to get to this. But some of the stuff in it sounds — well, pretty scary.
An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law.
The “enforceable by law” part is important. Once you sign a contract, you are bound by it. So, if you don’t like the contract, don’t sign it. That doesn’t mean things end here. You may want to consider hiring a lawyer.
In many cases, when someone is about to sign a contract, he or she hires a lawyer to interpret the contract and (in some cases) to help negotiate terms. Since you’re looking at a music contract, an entertainment lawyer would be best suited to help with its interpretation. An entertainment lawyer must be familiar with various agreements and contracts related to the entertainment industry, including recording contracts.
Whether you are a solo artist or you are a member of a band, you generally have two problems if you are an unknown who is signing your first recording contract:
- Because you have never seen a recording contract before, you don’t know what is “normal,” and you do not know how the contract will affect you long-term. Your lack of experience and knowledge in this situation makes a lawyer even more important.
- Even if you have a lawyer, you may have little or no leverage. If you try to negotiate, the record company can easily say, “Take it or leave it.” If you decide not to agree with the terms and conditions, its totally your choice but the scare of when and how the next contract offer will come still remains unsolved.
The goal of this article is to walk you through the typical features that any recording contract will normally have. It certainly does not replace a lawyer, but it does help you to educate yourself about the big issues and problems found in most big-label recording contracts today. The following sections will focus on each of the major topics that are covered in any big record deal so that you’ll have a good idea of what to expect when your contract arrives.
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