What Terms Do You Need to Know for Your Record Contract

Maggie Lange, an attorney and Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music, describes the major points to be found in a recording contract and what they actually mean for you, the artist, such as: the term of the contract; what your royalty checks will actually contain; and what decisions are taken out of your hands when you sign on the dotted line.

 

Question: What do you think are the most unfair parts of a traditional record label deal?

Some suggestions: exclusivity, perpetual transfer of copyright, cross-collateralization, controlled composition clause, low royalty rates, packaging deductions.

Let us know what you think in the comments below and we will give someone free copy of All You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman and distribution of an album so that you can sign yourself! All comments made by November 11th will be considered.

  • http://www.themenace.co.za Suburban Menace

    Informative, would like to see more of this though. It’s so much easier than reading all these technical things in books.

  • http://www.almarconi.com Al Marconi

    She’s a professor……blimey!

  • http://www.facebook.com/edgarburciaga Edgar Burciaga

    I agree with all that the speaker said.
    However, as an artist, it is good the know the importance of creating bargaining power before negotiating with a major.
    The way to create bargaining power is working. Self promotion, doing shows, interviews, etc. Everything that is possible to make at any scale. The moment you: 1) have and audience of 200-300 people per show, doing 3 or 4 shows per month, 2) an respectable number of visits to your youtube music videos, facebook web, even myspace, and so on, you have created bargaining power to negotiate something much better with a major.
    Thanks.
    I look forward for the Passman´s book!
    Best,
    Edgar

  • http://twitter.com/louisbrice Louis Middleton

    I took Maggie for her “Legal Aspects of the Music Industry” course at Berklee. She was a wonderful professor; a bit dry, but straight to the point and was able to point me in a direction to which I could then research more on my own. I believe all of the points she made in that short video clip were great general concerns to talk about. I also agree with Edgar; its always good to have bargaining power. Sometimes it can work in your favor and other times it can work against you. Based on a recent situation I am, to some extent, being included in, these days there is more room for bargaining power. With the inflation of the “360” deal, more and more artists are able to accommodate themselves with a better deal and more longevity. With this being said, if you are gaining something as an artist, you will ALWAYS be giving up something to the record company as well. You are playing on their field and they will always write the contract in favor of themselves. Its up to the artist to acquire some knowledge based around how “Record Contracts” work, and to get ahold of a good entertainment lawyer to look over it as well. I think there is room to manipulate the contract so that it better favors you as an artist, but in the situation of working with “the Majors”, they will always look at it as a conscious business decision on their behalf. Be smart, be knowledgeable, and don’t be afraid to ask for a second pair of eyes before you sign anything. A respectable company will never pull out because you are looking out for yourself; otherwise they probably aren’t somebody you want to be working for… did I say for? I meant with.

  • roco

    IM starting a management company in this probably the most intuitive video i’ve heard

  • http://www.NoteSmithStudio.com L.HUNT

    This was very informative. Thanks.
    L.HUNT

  • J Hart

    wow. i guess that’s why i can’t wait to learn more and more so i can go into business for myself.

  • Marcus A. Johnson

    Contracts from major record labels will benefit the labels every time! Those who are new to the business could easily get blinded by their own desire for fame and success. Without having knowledge of the entire process, artists could end up getting frustrated with and disappointed by their label.
    I’ve personally considered shopping the album I’m currently working on to major labels, but watching this video has caused me to reconsider that path. Being affiliated with BMI and using TuneCore as my primary distribution source are huge steps toward the independence I wish to have without compromising anything.

  • Deagen

    YESH I WANT TO SELL OUT PLEASE SIGN ME UP FOR A SEVEN ALBUM CONTRACT UNDER 12 ALIASES I WILL HAVE THE RECORDS DONE IN A YEARS TIME EXACTLY THEY WILL BE CATCHY RADIO FRIENDLY AND I WILL GIVE MOST OF THE LYRICS CREATIVE CONTROL AMONG OTHER THINGS ALL BECAUSE I LIVE IN A VAN IN NORTH POLE ALASKA WITH A MUSIC STUDIO IN IT I HAVNT EVER LEFT MY WHOLE LIFE AND I DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL BECAUSE IM OBSESSED WITH COMPUTERS AND MUSIC. DO I FIT THE PROFILE OF A LOSER WHO MAKES MUSIC ALL DAY? TUNECORE IS GREAT BTW ALL DIY

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/label/bossrecordsinc Denis J Quillign Jr

    Thnks….very informtive.

  • http://facebook.com/EnidBoyd Enid

    I enjoyed reading about this kind of information that most younger Artist never get to hear about before it’s too late. I would love to see more of it. Hope to get all of my free stuff soon:)!