Music Contracts Explained

Music Contracts Explained

Creating contracts for music artists is similar to drafting any other types of contracts. However, naturally, a music contract requires unique, niche-specific must-include elements. If you want to know more about the notion of music contracts, why you need them, and how to draft them like a pro, this piece is right up your alley.

What Is a Music Contract?

It’s a legally binding agreement between a record label and a musician (or band). The former utilizes this document for the purpose of defining the cooperation terms with the latter.

In the music niche, musicians and bands sign contracts for the purpose of sealing the deal related to giving certain performances, recording songs, or being hired by record companies. In a nutshell, these music contract templates are pretty similar. But getting them ready comes with a few important nuances. Keep reading for details. Uncover the ultimate comparison between the Blue Yeti and Blue Yeti X microphones by checking out this comprehensive guide

Why You Need a Music Contract

A music industry contract is the Holy Grail for musicians. But the highly intricate essence of this document often feels confusing for the artists. So, some of them ultimately refuse to deal with these mentally overwhelming agreements. Alas, this is not the best option, for this approach can make a lot of mess in the long run.

Yes, there are cases when verbal agreements can be legitimate. However, as a serious professional, you should aim for the gold standard for contracts i.e., the written agreement. With that said, you need a solid written music artist contract for:

  • clearly determining both sides’ liabilities;
  • ensuring that both parties sing from the same song sheet;
  • both sides’ legal interest protection;
  • misunderstanding prevention;
  • memory failure prevention.

How to Write a Music Contract

If you want to create this doc from scratch, follow these steps:

  1. Indicate the state you’re based in. The thing is, laws differ from one state to another. And you need to adjust the document to meet the legislative requirements of your specific whereabouts. For instance, if you prepare the file in New Mexico and a legal issue related to it arises soon, it will be dealt with court-wise in New Mexico.
  2. Specify detailed info about both sides of the agreement. Indicate both parties’ names and contacts. Add how long the doc will be valid and outline both parties’ liabilities.
  3. Outline such vital information as:
  • recording location;
  • song choice;
  • album title;
  • recording quality.
  1. Touch upon such crucial details about the album as:
  • how many songs it will feature;
  • how long will they last;
  • when the creation will be rolled out.
  1. Determine if the document is going to be exclusive or not. In the former case, the musician is not allowed to sign similar docs with other recording companies. Furthermore, this type of contract wards off the disagreements that take place when two companies happen to promote the same artist. If the doc you’re focused on is exclusive, indicate for how long the artist won’t be allowed to sign similar agreements with your competitors. 
  2. Decide on compensation distribution. Determine well in advance the specifics according to which the recording company and the musician will split the profit. If the musician creates their own music, they should receive royalties. Under these circumstances, indicate how much the musician will receive. Not sure about the minimum royalty rate in your state? Don’t hesitate to turn to professionals for advice.
  3. Indicate how many public promo appearances the musician will have and how much they’ll earn in the process.
  4. Outline the agreement’s termination terms, such as:
  • whether the musician can terminate the contract or not in case the company doesn’t manage to live up to its obligations;
  • when exactly the company is obliged to release the recording;
  • if the musician can return the rights to the album.
  1. Decide on dispute resolution specifics and indicate if the musician works with a professional attorney when sorting out this particular contract. If they don’t, the document should recommend them to do so.
  2. Add the current date and your signature. A witness’s signature can be added to the document, too. This is an optional step but a wise one in case the legitimacy of the agreement potentially gets undermined.

Take a browse through the huge library of music contract templates on PDFliner. Choose the pre-designed form that suits your needs best and modify it to your situation. No need to scan or print out anything, because the service is 100% digital.


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