A Brief Introduction About Recording Contract
A recording contract is also known to go by the names like the “record deal” or “record contract.” As per the definition, it is defined as the legal agreement that is mostly signed between a recording artist and a recording label or company.
Under this agreement, the artist is supposed to make a special music record or some series of musical records for the given recording label or company for the purpose of selling and promoting the record. The artists that fall under the given contract are mostly allowed to record only for the particular label or company exclusively until the duration of the contract.
In case of some guest appearance on the record of the artist, a special notice is expected to be stated “By courtesy” or specifying the name of the recording label. The given label would then receive some percentage of the entire sale. The recording labels are known to state the respective licensing rights in the given contract. They might also make use of the recording contract template for detailing the payment of some fixed percentage or royalties to singers, songwriters, and others who are involved in the recording of the music track.
Who Takes the Recording Contract?
A contract or a recording agreement is a legal contract between two parties that is enforceable legally. Specifically, a legal recording artist contract is a type of agreement to recording a music track. It is typically signed between a recording artist and a recording label or a recording company to abide by both the parties to the specific terms & conditions of the contract. In most cases, in a recording contract, there is a recording artist (the singer, the musician, or a band), and the music recording label or production company. Recording contracts are considered as vital documents to ensure the overall success of both the artist and the company.
Purpose of the Recording Contract
Typically, a music recording contract is known to define the specific terms & conditions of the recording as well as the distribution process. The agreement is known to provide contract-based assurances to the involved parties –including the recording label. The assurance is provided concerning the conduct as well as the performance of the recording artists, singers, band members, and songwriters during the procedures of recording as well as releasing the music album.
Additionally, the recording contract is also known to allow the artist to practice autonomy in specific aspects of the entire creative process of recording music or some track. The agreement provides that it is the responsibility of the recording label to place the costs in association with the production as well as the promotion of the album. These are the vital matters that are required to be settled towards ensuring that the recording contract is working in coordination with both the recording artist as well as the recording label.
The recording studio contract is regarded as ideal for independent recording labels as well as new recording artists as well. Recording contracts are referred to as legally-binding documents that allow the recording companies to make use of the performance of a specific recording artist in return for some royalty payments.
Contents of the Recording Contract
Recording contracts are known to differ from one artist to the other. This applies to the recording labels as well. This is because each artist or recording label will have unique needs, expectations, backgrounds, and experience levels. However, most of the recording agreements are known to contain certain information as well as contents. Here are some of the common ones:
- Exclusivity Agreement: In all possible recording contract samples, you are required to sign the exclusivity agreement. This is quite similar to the non-compete clause. It implies that as a recording artist, you will not be allowed to record for any other recording company or individual for as long as the contract would last. However, there can be some exceptions, as well. For instance, in case you are entering into some collaborative project with another recording artist from some other recording label, then this form of collaboration would require a different type of legal document.
- Worldwide Rights: The record company is known to possess the general rights to the works as well as services provided by the recording artists across the world. This does not imply to the only country in which you are signed through the official contract.
- Royalty Payments: In the musical recording contract, the musical royalties are usually regarded as some form of a percentage of the fixed amount of the sale of the record to which the creator of the music might be entitled. A standard instance of the same is the one in which the recording artist is known to receive some payment every time the work gets played on the radio or used in a particular video.
Additionally, the recording agreement is also known to contain the following information:
- Name as well as the contact information of both the recording artist and the label
- Details concerning production processes
- Provisions regarding the termination of the agreement
How to Draft the Recording Contract?
In typical cases, it is the responsibility of the recording company or the label to draft the recording agreement. At the same time, it is expected out of the artist to have a general idea of what all is being included in the contract. Towards making sure that the agreement is complete, the drafter of the agreement should show the same to some reliable, reputed attorney.
Some of the important points to consider while drafting the recording agreement are:
- Format the document properly such that the contract becomes easy to read and manipulate by the involved parties.
- Identify the parties of the given contract –in this case, the recording label and the recording artists.
- Clarify the recording obligations of the recording artists.
- Identify the overall costs in the agreement that will not be charged back
- Add the mandatory exclusivity provision in the agreement.
- Describe the policies as well as procedures associated with payments in the contract.
- Identify the specific distribution rights in the contract.
- Finalize the contract by including a termination clause stating on what grounds the contract can be terminated.
As a music recording artist or the recording label, if you wish to negotiate in the given recording agreement, here are some pro tips:
- Try to get a fair deal between both parties. The best way to approach the given problem is through working as a team during the negotiation strategy.
- Understand the motivation aspect of each other, and then, come to a proper conclusion.
- Come up with a proper strategy on how you two aim at resolving the conflicts that might arise out during the contract period.
- Understand the terms for the violation of the contract and try to make necessary changes if it does not suit your specialized requirements.
Benefits & Drawbacks of the Recording Contract
When it comes to signing a musical recording contract between the recording artist and the label, there are several potential benefits of the same. Some of the major benefits are:
- With the help of a contract, you can be assured of a boost to your career as a professional musical artist. The music label is known to provide artist branding, promotions, and marketing plans.
- Recording labels or companies have the right finances to promote the musical material properly –which is done only after signing a recording agreement.
- Recording labels are known to provide help with the overall production costs of the music track or album. You can ensure the same by agreeing with them.
Some of the potential drawbacks of the same could be:
- You no longer can work for any other musical recording band or label until the tenure of the agreement.
- You are expected to abide by the specific terms & conditions of the recording agreement.
- You are subject to termination of the agreement upon not abiding by its clause. This could result in the loss of payment as well.
What Happens in Case of Violation?
Just like any other contract or agreement, the musical recording agreements can also be breached or violated. The violations of the terms & conditions of the contract could lead to legal actions. Some of the common grounds of legal violation of the recording agreement are:
- Non-payment of the records
- Recording with some other recording label or company
- Problems with copyright infringement(1)
- Failure to make payment to the recording artist
- Failure to record the musical track
- Other types of contractual violations
A musical recording agreement is a legal contract and must be abided by both the artist as well as the recording label. It is recommended for both parties to go through the terms and conditions of the contract before signing the same.
[Also Read: Music License ]