Do You Know How to Deal With a Record Label? Here’s How!

Getting a recording contract is exciting, but it can also be difficult if you don’t know what to watch out for. Truth be told, the days of excess are long gone, and today, most record companies are looking for musicians who have put in the work to build up a fan base. Essentially, modern record companies want to see a proven track record of success before they will invest any time or money into a musical act. As a result, getting a record contract is more difficult than ever, and how you deal with the record company takes a lot of maneuvering.

Retain the Rights to Your Music

One of the most important aspects of dealing with a record label is sorting out the issue of who gets the rights to your music. Many times, record companies will try to get musicians to sign over the publishing rights to their songs. When this happens, the record company, and not the musician, owns the music. This means that even though you wrote the song, you will not be able to sell it ever again; only the record label will be able to do that. If the record label insists on taking the publishing rights to your music as part of your deal, try to at least negotiate a certain percentage of ownership.

Be Careful When Accepting Advances

An advance in the world of record deals is money that is given to a musician before he or she has even sold a single album. While you might think that receiving something like a million dollars up front is a good thing, it can backfire. If you don’t sell a million dollars’ worth of music, the record company is going to come to you expecting its money back. If you’ve spent that money, you’re going to be sued. Also, some record companies will offer musicians advances to purchase new equipment prior to going on tour. In this situation, think about whether you really need new equipment or whether your current equipment will be sufficient.

Consult With a Lawyer

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer before signing any type of record deal. Find someone who specializes in entertainment law and have that person read over the contract you’re being offered. Some record labels will try to pressure musicians into signing deals right away because they know that if a lawyer reviews the contract, changes will have to be made. As a result, never sign anything until your lawyer looks it over first.

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