In the music industry, a band with any sort of longevity has likely experienced business disputes among bandmates, whether relating to royalties or profit splits, use of the band name, copyright ownership, song credits, etc. Bands like Pink Floyd and Guns n’ Roses, to Stone Temple Pilots and Slipknot, have all faced serious (and expensive) legal battles over the years.
In my article Record Deals and Contract Tips (Part 1), I provided some thoughts on record deals in 2019 more generally. In short, the decision to enter into a recording agreement with a label is a commercial decision that should be considered VERY carefully. Even before looking at the contract, an artist should understand the business of recorded music in 2019, their goals, and determine whether the label is the right partner to assist in achieving those goals.
With that longwinded context aside, this article focuses on some common provisions within recording agreements and tips to consider. Of course, this overview is only meant to scratch the surface as there are many more issues to consider in every deal. Furthermore, there is no "one size fits all" recording agreement, so artists should always contact an entertainment lawyer before signing anything. Here we go:
Should you sign a recording contract? The short answer is, ‘it depends’.
I wanted to connect the themes of the record business (more generally) with contract tips, so have separated the discussion into two articles. Part 1 provides some background/context around record deals and recorded music generally, and Part 2 discusses specific contract deal points within record contracts that artists should be mindful of.
There are many many many good articles out there explaining the difference between the musical work copyright and the sound recording copyright. However, I suppose there is no harm in adding one more to drive the point home.
As mentioned in my previous article "10 Questions for a Music Lawyer", understanding the difference between these two copyrights is key to understanding the music business generally. For artists, it is also key in understanding how you make money!