Important Considerations For Musicians in Contract Negotiations

Our NYC and Miami Entertainment Law Firm advises and represents clients in all legal matters related to music, sports, television/film, visual and literary works, modeling, online matters, and intellectual property.

The signing of a music and recording contract can be the starting point of a long, successful career for any number of musicians here in Florida. Often, it is the result of a long, sometimes harsh road while honing the skills necessary to succeed in this business. However, while most musicians will feel nervous excitement over the possibility of signing a contract quickly in order to reap the perceived benefits, it is important to understand some of the finer points to ensure the contract negotiations reflect the artist’s best interests.

For example, music and recording contracts include terms related to royalties, which typically land between 10 and 15 percent to be paid to the artist. In some cases, a higher amount may actually be evidence that something is amiss, even though musicians wish they could guarantee a higher percentage. Still, while that range tends to be standard for U.S.-based sales, flexibility can exist regarding foreign sales or even commercial use of a musician’s work, such as its use in a television commercial.

In addition, contracts will include an exclusivity agreement which will limit the artist’s ability to work with another company. Of course, contracts can be for different lengths, as some contracts may include an agreement for a certain number of albums. However, this is usually only an option that can be picked up by the recording company, not a guarantee to the artist. Contracts will also usually spell out the amount of anticipated marketing set to accompany an album’s production.

So, while there are elements such as royalties or exclusivity that are a par for the course in such contractual agreements, the truth is that there are still many things left to negotiate as part of the agreement. In addition, the fine print suggested by the recording company in the more standard elements of a contract may not always reflect the artist’s best interests – after all, the companies are ultimately in the business of making money. For this reason, it can be important to work with an attorney experienced with similar contract negotiations. A full understanding of the terms presented can help musicians benefit as much as possible from a proposed music and recording contract.

Source: ESHAC News, “How Much Should You Sacrifice For a Record Deal?,” Michelle Rebecca, July 30, 2013

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