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Independent Labels & Recording Contracts

Oct 12, 2007
As an artist, did you realize that music contracts, recording contracts, record deals, whatever you want to call them, can be anywhere from two pages long to 100 pages long? Some musicians desire to sign these bad boys but have not the slightest idea what is involved in doing just that. Recording contracts are legally binding agreements between persons who make up a group and a company no matter if you are dealing with an Independent label or not.

So, who are these independent record labels giving music business contracts to, you might ask? Well, they are truly looking for artists that have an established fan base because that proves they are a potentially solid investment. The record companies are obviously looking for that ROI, return on investment so they distribute these recording contracts to those who will deliver the biggest ROI.

The simplest of recording contracts follow a basic outline and the things involved in these music contracts are important to be aware of Indie Labels, an independent label is a label that is not affiliated with any Major Label. These labels use independent distributers to get their releases into stores. When you are referring to Indie labels, remember this:

a. Even though they are an independent label be sure that they have a firm distribution deal on a national level.

b. Find out the size of their talent roster. How many acts have music contracts with them already? You don't want to have to fight tooth and nail for a smidgen of attention.

c. Ask yourself if your genre matches the type of label they run.

d. A good rule to follow is to never consent to, in recording contracts, allowing a label to recover any capital advanced to you for recording from your mechanical royalties.

e. Always negotiate in advance the amount or percentage of income the label will receive from merchandising.

f. Are you aware of options? And option roughly is defined as the number of records you will be obligated to record and this is found in all music business contracts.

g. It is a great sign when Indie labels work with Indie Radio and Retail Promoters. This will ensure your record has a fighting chance of being successfully promoted.

h. Will the music business contracts you sign allow for tour support? If so, how much and how much is recovered?

i. Last but certainly not least, before signing ANY recording contracts, find out how much you get paid for EACH record sold! This is so incredibly crucial. In fact, not reading these terms have driven some acts to bankruptcy and total failure. There is no official amount you should look for but research say somewhere between 10 and 15% is average.

The last piece of advice I can give you is don't be too desperate and always read the fine print. Music contracts and recording contracts can be long and confusing to some but keep your eyes peeled for the above terms and you should be on your way to signing a great deal!
About the Author
Owner of Platinum Millennium publishing, former record label owner & national music industry seminar speaker/panelist. Author/creator of best-selling music biz books, courses, audio products & "How to" resources that helped 1000s. Go to http://www.order-yours-now.com for more info on music contacts, recording contracts & music business contracts.
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