Detailed Guide to Music Contracts

Signing a music contract is a dream come true for most musicians. Many talented aspiring artists believe that once they sign the papers and become new world legends. However, a contract is just the beginning of the road, based on which you will be able to move forward or stick with children’s parties and weddings.

What Are Music Industry Contracts?

Let’s start with what you need to know about music contracts. The contract is a legal agreement between two parties, you and the music industry representative. It can be a record label or an agent. This party offers you to push forward and sell your musical talent. Usually, there is more than one offer. You have to discuss the license agreement, booking agent, publishing, collaboration, master license, recording, management, producer, and band collaborations in the document.

Key Clauses to Watch Out For and Understand

There are numerous types of music contracts available online. Music companies can offer you different conditions and send you the contract they created themselves. Yet, several standard agreements must be indicated inside every contract. You have to pay close attention to the following:

Term. Before you sign anything, you have to think about the contract duration and for how long you can work for the company. Based on the type of your agreement, you will see different duration. If you don’t want to stay in long-term relations with a company you barely know, it is time to think about that. Don’t sign the paper before you make up your mind. There are several types of contracts for music artists:

  • The agreement of a booking agent lasts from 1 to 3 years in general;
  • The agreement in management lasts up to 5 years normally;
  • The agreement on the license can last from 5 to 15 years;
  • The agreement for records can last as long as you provide an agreed number of albums, usually up to 4.

Territory. Think about how famous you want to be. If you intend to release your music worldwide, you have to consider the “World” tag in your contract. Don’t make a mistake, since going to the international market means twice more work, language knowledge, twice more competition, and unique entertainment only you can grant to the audience. Some companies are simply unable to go further than your own country.

Rights Granted. Signing music industry contracts, no matter how great they are, you can’t act blindly when you grant someone rights to your music. Think about what you can offer and what you expect in return. Take some time to read and understand what the other party wants to receive from you and for how long. The best option is to consult a lawyer on the contract. Professionals will be able to quickly check out what you can receive from the agreement and what you have to give in return.

Ownership. Usually, the contract is made to legalize transferring rights to your music or name to the music company that will work with you. You may want to limit the way the company can own your music. Normally you can see the terms, either license or assignment describing the work with the company. Assignment means that you, as an author of the music, give total ownership of the copyright to the brand you work with. The agreement lasts forever. It means that everything you do must be released under the label. The license offers more freedom in the choice of music and more benefits. Yet, you are still in the ownership of the company. Once the contract is over, you can restore your copyright ownership.

Exclusivity. Almost all music artist contracts contain information about exclusive rights you provide to the other party. You can decide which of them you want to grant.  During the duration of the contract, the company will receive the rights you’ve agreed upon. However, if your contract mentions non-exclusive rights, you can offer your name, biography, photos, and promotion to other people as well.

Distribution of Income. Think about the money you will earn from your concerts, albums, photo sessions, etc. You have to discuss how much money you will receive from the total number and what the company will receive. The contract must provide you the right to audit your income and general accounting records.

Breach and Termination Rights. Once you’ve learned how do music contracts work, you have to understand that every contract can come to an end. In this case, think about what this agreement will leave you with in the end. Make sure the company does not leave you empty-handed.

In Conclusion

Signing a contract agreement with a music company is a new step into your music career. Read the paper carefully and make sure there are no tricks inside. Pay attention to the details.

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