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New artist trying to understand a record deal contract
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newartist2014
audio school


Joined: 18 Aug 2014
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:22 pm    Post subject: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

Hi guys, I'm a house music producer signing to my first label and am wondering if this contract is any good? I have been producing electronic music for 5 years and have had a few offers.

The label in question is a new label that is starting up, and they are offering me a 50/50 deal. The owner has informed me that while the label is not currently distributing on Beatport,
it will be within a few months or so.

They want me to release 10 tracks within 18 months, and are happy to release 7 that I have sent them, (I have a large back catalog.) They said I could either release 5 tracks as an EP, create a few new tracks for an album,

or release 10 tracks (minimum) within 18 months. I thought that the 10 tracks offer would be the best.

Any help would be hugely appreciated!

Here is the contract for the 10 tracks over 18 months; (Please note, I have removed all names.)



--------------------------------------------------------
Agreement Between;
***** Records; (the company) & ******* (herein known as
the 'Artist') Performing under the name '******'.

TERM: This Agreement will be valid for a period of 18 months from the
date of commencement.

Requirements to be met upon being signed to the label:
It is a mandatory requirement that any artist signed to the label has to
promote all their own produced material. Any money made from the
artists music, recordings, merchandise related to the recordings will be
split evenly, 50% to the artists & 50% to ***** Records. No monies
or Advanced payments will be made by either party upon signing.

A. IT IS HEREBY UNDERSTOOD THAT ***** Records
a. is an organization which specializes in the management, recording,
recording distribution and representation of musical artists;
b. is familiar with the musical abilities of artists and has the expertise,
ability, industry contacts and resources to assist artists in the
furtherance of their career.
c. Artist will perform under the name that has been agreed and
discussed with the label, which in this case ‘******’.

B. PRODUCTION OF RECORDING
The Recording shall be produced in the following manner: A minimum
of 10 singles over the contract duration.
1. PRODUCTION. The resulting recording (hereinafter referred to as the
“Recording”) shall be of a quality which is equal to master recordings
normally produced for commercial distribution. ***** Records
agrees to produce ONE mastered copy per track released.
2. CONTRIBUTION BY ARTIST. Artist agrees to fully co-operate with
the ***** Records, in good faith, in the production of the
Recording; to contribute to the production of the music and lyrics
embodied in the Songs; to arrange, direct and perform the Songs in such
a manner as to facilitate the production of the Recording; and to
otherwise strictly observe the remaining duties and obligations of this
Agreement.
3. COSTS. Receipted expenses pursuant to the production of master
recordings or the advancement of the Artist’s career may be recoverd by
***** Records. Company’s production, promotion, manufacturing
and all other bonafide expenses relating to the Artist are deemed
recoupable from gross income.
4. ARTISTIC CONTROL. The artist and ***** Records shall be
jointly responsible for all decisions regarding the artistic content of the
Recording.
5. ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS. ***** Records and the Artist shall
agree and provide sufficient and competent musicians to properly
perform the Songs, as arranged and directed by the Artist and Producer
Company may recover such costs pursuant to Section B3. herein.
6. TITLE. The title of the Recording shall be chosen by the Artist.
7. COMPLETION AND RELEASE. The Recording shall be completed
and prepared for release and distribution on an agreed date by both the
artist and ***** Records. Company and Artist acknowledge that
time is of the essence in the completion of the Recording, and each agree
to exercise all reasonable means to achieve such completion.
8. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS. ***** Records and the Artist will have
equal control of all of the rights to, title, and interest in the following
property, for distribution and commercial exploitation worldwide and
will receive 50%/50% share of any sales of the Recording, including:
a. The Songs,
b. Artist’s performance of the Songs contained in the Recording,
c. The title of the Recording.
The Artist shall also grant to the Company the license to use the name
“******”, their photographic image in the promotion and distribution
of the Recording. The artist must also provide the track cover photo
image and any other relevant promotion photos.
9. DISTRIBUTION. Commencing with the completion of the Recording
and continuing for the term of this Agreement, ***** Records will
diligently use its best efforts to secure distribution of the Recording
throughout the world, through one or more major distribution
companies (including record companies, film companies, or any other
company). Any such contract entered into between Company and any
such record distribution company shall be subject to the terms of this
Agreement.
10. ROYALTIES. In accordance with the rights granted by Artist to
Company herein, Company intends to contract with a record
distribution company for distribution of the Recording. Company will be
entitled to receive royalties or licensing fees (herein collectively referred
to as the “Royalties”) as a result of such contract. Royalties shall include
any compensation received by Company, or promised to Company,
which directly or indirectly results from the use, exploitation or
existence of the Recording, or any reproduction applied to satisfy costs
incurred and paid by Company pursuant to Sections B.3,and B.5, herein.
In the event that Royalties are insufficient to complete such
reimbursement, Artist shall not be liable for such costs. The remainder
of such Royalties, if any, shall be allocated and distributed between
Company and Artist, in the following proportion:
50 ( %) Percent to ***** Records
50 ( %) Percent to Artist
Royalties due Artist hereunder shall be delivered by Company to Artist
within sixty working days from the Company’s receipt thereof.
11. MISCELLANEOUS
a) LEGAL FEES. In the event that a party is forced to obtain an attorney
to enforce the terms of this Agreement, the party prevailing in such
action of enforcement shall be entitled to the recovery of attorney’s fees
incurred in such action.
b) COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING. *****
Records and the Artist agree to perform their obligations under this
Agreement, in all respects, in good faith.
c) INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. In the performance of his
obligations of this Agreement, the Artist shall be deemed an
independent contractor.
d) SECONDARY INCOME. The Artist is entitled to a 50:50 share of any
income earned by the label. This could be in the form of advances paid
by overseas labels licensing your record, income from compilations, or
sync fees that are paid when a sound recording is used in a film or TV
commercial or on a computer game.
e) PRS MEMBERSHIP. The Artist must apply for registration & pay
registration fee with the UK music licensing organization, (PRS)
Performing Rights Society.
12. NOTICES. Any notices or delivery required herein shall be deemed
completed when received via recorded Email, to the parties at the
addresses listed herein.
13. TERMINATION CLAUSE. If any of the following actions are met,
this will terminate the contract if the decision is chosen by the artist.
a) If royalty payments are not paid within 60 days of intended pay date.
b) If ***** Records goes bankrupt.
c) If there is any illegal or fraudulent activity.

SIGN BELOW TO AGREE TO ALL TERMS OF THE CONTRACT
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JWL
deaf.


Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 1866
Location: Maine

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:43 pm    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

If you aren't sure about the contract, I would not rely on forum posts to evaluate it. Hiring a music lawyer, who represents you, to interpret what you are signing will be money well spent.
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The Scum
resurrected


Joined: 04 Jul 2003
Posts: 2399
Location: Denver, CO

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:55 pm    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

We're also a largely American board here, and you appear to be in the UK. Music law varies from country to country, so you should seek out local expertise (perhaps an, *ahem*, "barrister").

What's your gut feeling here? Do you know the label folks personally? How trustworthy are they? Do they have a track record? Are they really offering anything you couldn't do on your own?

To my eyes, it never explicitly mentions publishing, which is a big thing here in the states.

It also doesn't say anything about the artist's being able to see regular accounting statements.
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newartist2014
audio school


Joined: 18 Aug 2014
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:52 pm    Post subject: Update Reply with quote

Hi, thanks for the replies!

I'm based in Ireland. Unfortunately I'm not in the position of hiring a lawyer but I am looking at my options.

I don't know the label owner personally, I posted this same message on another forum and people seemed to think it might not be a good idea.

As the label is new, it doesn't have a track record, making it more difficult for me to decide what to do. Somebody suggested that I could use an aggregator who would only take ten percent of my money and would distribute to all major platforms, (all though I'm not familiar with how an aggregator works or how to contact one.)

I felt it was a bit vague regarding publishing, thank you for pointing out that it doesn't mention being able to see regular accounting statements, I never even thought of that! Total noob at getting signed haha.

Anyway, I sent the label this message, and am awaiting reply. I will post back soon. Thanks again!



-------------------------------------------------------------
Hi again,

I've been lookinging over the contract with a legal advisor and there are some things I'm not entirely sure about, for example if the label is not promoting me I'm not entirely sure what I'm gaining, as there are aggregators out there who will only take 10% of my money and will also distribute my music everywhere including Beatport.

I would need a solid confirmation that my music will be published across specific major distributors, including Beatport, within the contract, because as it stands I feel that parts of it seem a little bit vague.

It also doesn't say anything about me being able to see regular accounting statements, or how this would work, which is important.

Finally, would all of my works be taxed, or just my contractual obligations?

If it would be possible to have a brief face to face chat over Skype to clear things up, that would be great.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Regards,
- ***********
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The Scum
resurrected


Joined: 04 Jul 2003
Posts: 2399
Location: Denver, CO

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:20 am    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

Here's one reasonably reputable aggragator.

http://www.tunecore.com/

-----

Rereading the contract, I'd also want to have some specifics attached to this clause:

Quote:
It is a mandatory requirement that any artist signed to the label has to
promote all their own produced material


Without specifics, it's too easy for them to say you weren't holding up your end of the bargain. Do they want you to tour? Take out a big ad, with your own money, in the Sunday paper?

On a similar note, they state that their expenses for "production, promotion, manufacturing and all other bonafide expenses" will be recouped before you get paid, but they say nothing about similar expenses you might incur, which might seem to be dictated by the "mandatory requirement" above.

The good news, should you happen to sign, then regret it, is that there are probably a number of holes in that contract that an actual lawyer could find.
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Gregg Juke
ghost haunting audio students


Joined: 12 Jun 2010
Posts: 3317
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:43 am    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

I could poke some pretty big holes in the contract, and I am _not_ a music/entertainment attorney. You really do need a lawyer to look it over. More importantly, what have they done, or had success with, that gives you confidence that signing _any_ portion of your music away is worth-your-while? They may be new, but unless you're their absolute first artist, someone else has experience with them and can give you an idea of how (and if) they work. This first-person feedback can be extremely valuable. Seek references.

One positive I see is that the contract has only an 18-month period of obligation. Make sure that if they don't follow-through with their end, and you walk after the 18 months, that all rights revert back to you.

I once signed a management agreement with an out-of-town agency, for the exact same time period. They did absolutely nothing to promote my career during that entire time that I couldn't have done myself. Be careful.

GJ
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"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "
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Gregg Juke
ghost haunting audio students


Joined: 12 Jun 2010
Posts: 3317
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:44 am    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

I could poke some pretty big holes in the contract, and I am _not_ a music/entertainment attorney. You really do need a lawyer to look it over. More importantly, what have they done, or had success with, that gives you confidence that signing _any_ portion of your music away is worth-your-while? They may be new, but unless you're their absolute first artist, someone else has experience with them and can give you an idea of how (and if) they work. This first-person feedback can be extremely valuable. Seek references.

One positive I see is that the contract has only an 18-month period of obligation. Make sure that if they don't follow-through with their end, and you walk after the 18 months, that all rights revert back to you.

I once signed a management agreement with an out-of-town agency, for the exact same time period. They did absolutely nothing to promote my career during that entire time that I couldn't have done myself. Be careful.

GJ
_________________
Gregg Juke
Nocturnal Productions Music Group
Drum! Magazine Contributor
http://MightyNoStars.com

"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "
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kslight
dead but not forgotten


Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 2168

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:07 am    Post subject: Re: Update Reply with quote

newartist2014 wrote:
Unfortunately I'm not in the position of hiring a lawyer but I am looking at my options.


If you are not in the position of protecting your own interests, then who is?

My suggestion would be to seek out artist management…a real business with an office and a legal team that do this every day…before signing anything. Yes, that'll cost money too, but you really need someone on your side, IMHO…independent of any record label.

I am also pretty weary of signing with any unknown relatively new record label, in terms of what they will be able to do for me that I can't do myself, will I be able to recoup any money before they go bankrupt (and what chance do I have of recovering any of that when they do), and what kind of throw do they have to get me the things I need to make money (good gigs, TV/film/game spots, etc).

I was signed to a label owned by Sony a few years back, they owed about $8k before they folded…but then we had to pay to get the remaining merchandise (+shipping, of course) despite them owing us… We blew out all of the merch and broke even, eventually, but what a joke. I vocally thought the label was a shit idea in the first place…but some people just won't listen...
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GooberNumber9
tinnitus


Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 1094
Location: Washington, DC

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:51 pm    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

You could try to get a win-win with the label and explain that you don't want to sign it without having a lawyer on your side and see if they have any ideas. I should think if you have afforded instruments, strings, sticks, drumheads, tubes, picks, etc. all along so far in the process, then an hour or two of legal consultation would just be one more expense in that column.

Personally I wouldn't sign without removal or major changes to section B-8. I would want to retain copyrights on the actual songs (written music and lyrics) or have those copyrights held by an entity in which I have a controlling interest, assuming I wrote the songs or participated substantially in their writing. I wouldn't mind the label holding copyrights on the recordings, but not the songs themselves.
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newartist2014
audio school


Joined: 18 Aug 2014
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:54 pm    Post subject: Update Reply with quote

OK so here is the current situation, they replied to me with an updated contract! This is looking a bit better. What do you guys think? This is the message they sent, followed by the updated contract. I'm not sure what BFR is, hoping this is an improvement. At least they are willing to negotiate. Also please note that the label isn't paying for gear such as has been mentioned as the music on the label is strictly electronic music. I am a house music producer myself. Thanks so much for all the help folks! I


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RECORD LABEL EMAIL REPLY:

Hi ********,

We will be promoting all our artist's but obviously as we are a small independent label, we simply cannot afford for high end promotion. But we will be trying to get all our artist's tracks featured on as many things as possible including; Radio, Magazines, Forums, Blogs, Reviews, Webzines and Articles. We totally understand that you want promotion, and also we do, but you have to understand we are a brand new label and we are very dedicated to pushing all our artists and increasing promotion as time goes on.

As mentioned before, we are currently unable to release with Beatport although we should be releasing with them in the next couple of months. At the moment, your releases will be available on: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify and many more. (We have included this in the updated contract)

As stated in section 10 (Royalties): 'Royalties due Artist hereunder shall be delivered by company to Artist within sixty working days from the companies receipt thereof'. This means that you will receive the accounting statements of the original statement that we receive and also a BFR statement that split's the royalties 50% / 50%. You will also receive you payment via PayPal. You will not be taxed on this.

Please find attached your new contract stating the specific distributors.

We look forward to hearing from you and we hope that we can work with you and release some great music.

Kind Regards,

******** Records.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


UPDATED CONTRACT:


****** Records Recording & Personal Services

Agreement Between;
****** Records; (the company) & ****** (herein known as
the 'Artist') Performing under the name '******'.
TERM: This Agreement will be valid for a period of 18 months from the
date of commencement.
Requirements to be met upon being signed to the label:
It is a mandatory requirement that any artist signed to the label has to
promote all their own produced material. Any money made from the
artists music, recordings, merchandise related to the recordings will be
split evenly, 50% to the artists & 50% to ****** Records. No monies
or Advanced payments will be made by either party upon signing.
A. IT IS HEREBY UNDERSTOOD THAT ****** Records

a. is an organization which specializes in the management, recording,
recording distribution and representation of musical artists;

b. is familiar with the musical abilities of artists and has the expertise,
ability, industry contacts and resources to assist artists in the
furtherance of their career.

c. Artist will perform under the name that has been agreed and
discussed with the label, which in this case ‘******’.
B. PRODUCTION OF RECORDING

The Recording shall be produced in the following manner: A minimum
of 10 singles over the contract duration.
1. PRODUCTION. The resulting recording (hereinafter referred to as the
“Recording”) shall be of a quality which is equal to master recordings
normally produced for commercial distribution. ****** Records
agrees to produce ONE mastered copy per track released. 2. CONTRIBUTION BY ARTIST. Artist agrees to fully co-operate with
the ****** Records, in good faith, in the production of the
Recording; to contribute to the production of the music and lyrics
embodied in the Songs; to arrange, direct and perform the Songs in such
a manner as to facilitate the production of the Recording; and to
otherwise strictly observe the remaining duties and obligations of this
Agreement.
3. COSTS. Receipted expenses pursuant to the production of master
recordings or the advancement of the Artist’s career may be recoverd by
****** Records. Company’s production, promotion, manufacturing
and all other bonafide expenses relating to the Artist are deemed
recoupable from gross income.
4. ARTISTIC CONTROL. The artist and ****** Records shall be
jointly responsible for all decisions regarding the artistic content of the
Recording.
5. ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS. ****** Records and the Artist shall
agree and provide sufficient and competent musicians to properly
perform the Songs, as arranged and directed by the Artist and Producer
Company may recover such costs pursuant to Section B3. herein.
6. TITLE. The title of the Recording shall be chosen by the Artist.
7. COMPLETION AND RELEASE. The Recording shall be completed
and prepared for release and distribution on an agreed date by both the
artist and ****** Records. Company and Artist acknowledge that
time is of the essence in the completion of the Recording, and each agree
to exercise all reasonable means to achieve such completion.
8. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS. ****** Records and the Artist will have
equal control of all of the rights to, title, and interest in the following
property, for distribution and commercial exploitation worldwide and
will receive 50%/50% share of any sales of the Recording, including:

a. The Songs,

b. Artist’s performance of the Songs contained in the Recording,

c. The title of the Recording.

The Artist shall also grant to the Company the license to use the name
“******”, their photographic image in the promotion and distribution of the Recording. The artist must also provide the track cover photo
image and any other relevant promotion photos.
9. DISTRIBUTION. Commencing with the completion of the Recording
and continuing for the term of this Agreement, ****** Records will
diligently use its best efforts to secure distribution of the Recording
throughout the world, through major distribution companies (including
iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Rdio, Amazon, 7Digital, Sony Qriocity,
Zvooq, Deezer, Rhapsody, eMusic, We7, Basepoint Media, Beats Music,
24/7 Entertainment and JB Hi-Fi). Any such contract entered into
between Company and any such record distribution company shall be
subject to the terms of this Agreement.
10. ROYALTIES. In accordance with the rights granted by Artist to
Company herein, Company intends to contract with a record
distribution company for distribution of the Recording. Company will be
entitled to receive royalties or licensing fees (herein collectively referred
to as the “Royalties”) as a result of such contract. Royalties shall include
any compensation received by Company, or promised to Company,
which directly or indirectly results from the use, exploitation or
existence of the Recording, or any reproduction applied to satisfy costs
incurred and paid by Company pursuant to Sections B.3,and B.5, herein.
In the event that Royalties are insufficient to complete such
reimbursement, Artist shall not be liable for such costs. The remainder
of such Royalties, if any, shall be allocated and distributed between
Company and Artist, in the following proportion:

50 ( %) Percent to ****** Records

50 ( %) Percent to Artist

Royalties due Artist hereunder shall be delivered by Company to Artist
within sixty working days from the Company’s receipt thereof.
11. MISCELLANEOUS

a) LEGAL FEES. In the event that a party is forced to obtain an attorney
to enforce the terms of this Agreement, the party prevailing in such
action of enforcement shall be entitled to the recovery of attorney’s fees
incurred in such action.
b) COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING. ******
Records and the Artist agree to perform their obligations under this
Agreement, in all respects, in good faith.c) INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. In the performance of his
obligations of this Agreement, the Artist shall be deemed an
independent contractor.
d) SECONDARY INCOME. The Artist is entitled to a 50:50 share of any
income earned by the label. This could be in the form of advances paid
by overseas labels licensing your record, income from compilations, or
sync fees that are paid when a sound recording is used in a film or TV
commercial or on a computer game.
e) PRS MEMBERSHIP. The Artist must apply for registration & pay
registration fee with the UK music licensing organization, (PRS)
Performing Rights Society.
12. NOTICES. Any notices or delivery required herein shall be deemed
completed when received via recorded Email, to the parties at the
addresses listed herein.
13. TERMINATION CLAUSE. If any of the following actions are met,
this will terminate the contract if the decision is chosen by the artist.
a) If royalty payments are not paid within 60 days of intended pay date.
b) If ****** Records goes bankrupt.
c) If there is any illegal or fraudulent activity.

SIGN BELOW TO AGREE TO ALL TERMS OF THE CONTRACT
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Gregg Juke
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 1:25 am    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

"BFR" = Budget and Financial Reporting...

They need to be more specific about income. You need an accounting clause. You need a reversion clause...*

*This IS NOT legal advice, which comes from a lawyer, whom you really need to talk to.

GJ
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Nocturnal Productions Music Group
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"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "
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Nick Sevilla
speech impediment


Joined: 03 Mar 2008
Posts: 4444
Location: Los Angeles California USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:50 am    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

Simple.
Pay an entertainment lawyer in your area, which can and will explain
the entire contract to you, for a fixed fee.

NOTHING ELSE will do.

Cheers
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tjcasey1
takin' a dinner break


Joined: 02 Dec 2005
Posts: 164
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:55 am    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

1) Get a lawyer. It might not be as expensive as you think, and it's always worth it.

2) What do you need this company for? You could do all this stuff yourself - especially if they can't do a mega-promotion for you. That's really the only thing that's out of a musician's range.
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coolnm57
audio school graduate


Joined: 04 Nov 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Fairfax, VA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:36 pm    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

Nearly all business relationships boil down to trust. I heard in an interview w/ Ian MacKaye that Dischord has NEVER signed a record deal - all handshake deals. Not that I'd encourage that in this case but the principle should definitely be there.

I agree with everyone else that you should find a lawyer to review this. Maybe you can cut a deal where lawyer fees get absorbed into your royalties/advance.

I'd also pay attention to what's operationally defined in the contract. What specifically are they agreeing to do for you? How much money are they willing to invest, especially in marketing and exposure, before they give up? Stuff like that.

Again, find a lawyer - this in no way constitutes actual legal advice!

Good luck out there dude!
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Mono y Mono Records
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Gregg Juke
ghost haunting audio students


Joined: 12 Jun 2010
Posts: 3317
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:35 am    Post subject: Re: New artist trying to understand a record deal contract Reply with quote

One other possibility for a worthwhile consult that may be less expensive than an attorney office visit-- go to MosesAvalon.com. You can set-up a session right on his website.

GJ
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Nocturnal Productions Music Group
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"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "
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