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What Constitutes a Recording Contract?

Nov 9, 2007
Recording contracts, frequently referred to as record deal, is a legal agreement between a record label and an artist or group, it is as simple as that. This is simply where a performer makes an album or albums for the label to vend and endorse.

Artists under music contracts are normally only permitted to record for that specific label. Although, if one chooses to do guest appearances on other records, a "By courtesy of (insert name of label here)" is displayed and of course their label will receive a percentage of sales. This is typical of all music business contracts that allow this.

Usually, labels will possess the copyright to the records of their signed artists. They may also be in control of the master copies of those records. On the other hand, there is an exception. When a particular label makes a distribution deal with a group, another party may own the copyrights and/or the masters of the records. Ideally, the artist of the manager will obtain these rights. In these music contracts, your label will be licensed exclusively for that record for a set period of time.

So, in recording contracts, where does promotion play in? Promotion is a central factor in the achievement of a record. Luckily, when signing music business contracts with a label, promotion is chiefly the label's responsibility as well as the correct distribution of records. Takes a load off the artist!

Let's be realistic, initial music contracts, for the most part capitulate a relatively little percentage of royalties to the actual artist. But don't let that frighten you, subsequent recording contracts usually result in much larger profits, you have to work your way up there in this business! There are exceptions to this standard. There have been artists that make millions on their first go round, maybe you can be one of them! The key is to never be comfortable where you are, look for better music contracts, record better albums and keep reaching for the sky!

To be honest with you, there are opt-out clauses that are often included in recording contracts. These clauses clearly state that if you decline in popularity or if your albums constantly fail, then you could be out of there. Don't let that frighten you either, this is a rare occurrence and it does not have to happen to you.

Just stay focused, stay true to your music and you will succeed! Lastly, do not forget that your advances from your music business contracts do have to be paid back. Keep this in mind before you get out of control because of the success of one record! The smarter you are in your career, then better you will end up in the long run.
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.musiccontracts101.com for more info on music contacts, recording contracts & music business contracts.
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