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Tips for Signing a Music Contract
Tips for Signing a Music Contract
From the very moment an artist or band gets together and plays their very first song, thoughts of signing a music contract creep into their heads. For most, it is the ultimate goal. It solidifies any notion of success and validates any notion of talent. Being offered the opportunity to sign a music contract means that someone out there thinks you really do have what it takes and they are willing to bank on your chance for success. However, as glamorous as it all sounds, there are things you need to know long before you pick up that pen to sign on the dotted line or you could end up making a huge mistake, personally, professionally and financially.
It is imperative that you do your research beforehand. You need to go into any deal already understanding the language and facts about the music industry. You do not want to be sitting there literally trying to decipher word for word what the terms of your contract are. Going into the process informed is the only way.
In order to even be taken seriously as an artist and win any kind of attention from a record company, you need a demo and a manager. The demo is literally your introduction into the music world. It is what sets you apart. If it is poorly recorded or produced, it will come across as such to experts in the music industry. This will get you nowhere fast. You need to come across as a professional entity in order to even be considered worth the time by a music label. You also need to ensure you are affiliated with a manager or representative who truly has your best interest at heart. This can be more difficult than it sounds. Whoever is with you during the process of producing and shopping around a demo should know who you are as an artist, what is important to you, what inspires you, and where you truly want your music career to go. Basically, if they don’t “get” you, they can’t get you the best or right deal.
When your manager is getting your demo noticed and it is the absolute best representation of your talent and marketability, you need to keep playing an active role in your career path. Keep playing all of the gigs you possibly can. You need to build your reputation and fan base, while pushing your talent forward. All of this needs to be done while you and your manager cultivate offers and pursue the right record label for you.
While that all seems like an endless job in itself, and it is, you also need to be prepared when the time comes to sign. The best tip for signing a music contract is to hire an entertainment lawyer. Contracts can be extremely confusing to the layman. Unless you have a law degree, you are bound to feel a little lost or confused. An entertainment lawyer will literally sit you down and explain your rights and lay out what is expected of you. They will help you filter through the details of what the money terms will be, the rights to your work, the commitment on your part, how much promotion and marketing will be out of your pocket or theirs and exactly how many records in what length of time is expected by you the artist.
You also need to be aware that most music contracts are exclusive contracts. This means you will lose a bit of freedom when it comes to whom and where you can perform your art. You will not have the luxury of working for another entity. The record label alone will want to share in your success financially and will most likely have strict guidelines about how and where you perform. You have to remember it is a business.