In this artists guide to record contracts, we discuss what is a record contract, what is in a record contract. We will also discuss what to look out for in a record contract. Finally, we will also consider whether becoming an independent artist is the better option for you.
There are affiliate links and banners in this post. If you click them and make a purchase, I will make a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you. You will just be supporting my blog through your kind generosity. This enables me to provide for my wife and family. Therefore, I would like to say thank you in advance.
The video in this post came from Damian Keyes’ YouTube channel. Thank you Damian for the inspiration. Let’s get into the post.
Get Your Free Copy of
The Complete Guide to Music Marketing 2021
Over 80 pages packed with sensible, actionable
advice, resources and aha moments
The Artists Guide to Record Contracts
As Damian states in this video, he gets sent contracts from artists on a regular basis. Being a YouTube influencer enables Damian to build an honest and reliable image of himself. Therefore, people who watch Damian’s videos are going to seek his opinion and stand by it as a guide to their own record contracts.
What Used to Be in a Record Contract?
What is in a record contract now and what used to be in a record contract are two completely different things. This is due to the evolution of modern technology, and in particular the internet. Anyone can make a track and also upload it to 150 odd streaming platforms today. You don’t even need to have the talent to see your music on the bigger streaming platforms and retail websites.
In the older version of the record contract, there also used to be a need for funding and very, very, very heavy funding at that. Therefore, you also needed to be good in order to attract a record label that would fund your music. A record label was 100% necessary in the past.
Costs that had to be met included studio time. Sometimes this came to $1,000 plus per day. Sometimes artists would also spend months in the studio and spend $100,000’s of dollars in the studio.
Other costs included recording, mixing, mastering and also distribution. If you wanted to have a better job done, you needed to hire professionals. Professionals will always cost more to hire. They are much higher quality, so they will naturally also require a much higher fee.
As well as the costs just mentioned, there was also a big cost for distribution to the shops and retail stores. This would also include sending music to shops all over the world. Therefore, it included air fares, rail fares and more.
Altogether, you were often looking at costs of $1,000,000 plus to get your music out to places all over the world.
Why Was An Artists Guide to Record Contracts Essential?
When you see what is in a record contract, you will have more idea of why an artists guide to record contracts would be essential reading for every music artist. This is not just in the past. There will always be a need for such a guide. However, I would urge you to seek the services of a music lawyer rather than just simply going through an artists guide to record contracts.
The Artists Guide to Record Labels and Why You Must Always Hire a Music Lawyer
A lawyer can tell you one way or another by what is in a record contract, whether or not it is a good deal, or whether it is not worth the paper it is printed on.
What is a Recording Contract Today?
Things that have to be decided in today’s contracts include the royalty split. How much will you earn from the sales of your work? How much will the label earn from sales of your work? Who is paying for the above-mentioned costs? Who is paying for merch? Are you paying for the costs of the recording, the music video, PR, advertising and also touring, or is it down to the label?
Who Owns the Master Recording?
The owner of the master recording also owns copyright. Therefore, they will receive more money from sales of music, merch, concert tickets, etc. They may also be able to get the music into films, TV programmes, advertising and games. Therefore, there is also money to consider from those costs.
An Artists Guide to Record Contracts in 2021
Today, things have changed completely. There is no longer the need for selling physical music releases. This is because music streaming has gained a much bigger slice of the pie. Sites like Spotify and more than 100 more streaming and retail music sites make music freely available or at a cheap price to download. In the video, Damian explains that CD sales have gone down from 71 million sales to 32 million sales in the past 20 years.
CD sales have gone down from 71 million sales to 32 million sales in the past 20 years.
The Artists Guide to Record Labels and What Costs Are in a Record Contract Today?
Today, the only major costs that have to be incurred are for music marketing and promotion. However, even these costs are less than they were 20 years ago. Sites like Hypeddit have enabled music artists to market their music at a much lower price. The fact that yesteryear’s costs have been obliterated means that more money has been freed up to spend on marketing and promotion. However, anyone can release music. This means that many marketing assets like Hypeddit are much cheaper than they used to be.
What to Look Out For in a Record Contract
There are much fewer costs in the music industry today. However, it is still essential that you know what to look out for in a record contract. The fact that everyday people can get a contract now means that people are far less concerned about the implications of a record contract. Therefore, they often don’t know what to look out for in a record contract.
As I said towards the start of this post, it is essential that you get a fully qualified lawyer to look through a contract before you sign it. Damian explains in the video that many other artists have also signed deals that weren’t a fair deal for them.
If you don’t have a close friend or family member with experience and qualifications in the law side of music, it can be expensive. You will achieve much more in the long run, if you have a better label.
Becoming an Independent Artist a Better Deal in the Music Industry Today?
In my personal view, it is much better to look at becoming an independent artist in today’s music scene. I made this post some time ago. It explains why I think becoming an independent artist is a much better deal for you to consider.
The Artists Guide to Record Labels and My Own Experience of Becoming an Independent Artist
Two labels have represented us in the past. I am not going to mention them here. However, there was a fee of around £50-£100 to get them onside. However, they didn’t do much more than we could do as independent artists. I didn’t see a massive increase in streams or sales. These statistics went long quite smoothly. We have generated between 40 and 150 streams every month for the past few years. I think we may actually have some die-hard fans. This is great so thank you if you are one of them.
Thank you for reading The Artists Guide to Record Contracts. If you would like to read any of my other recent posts, please choose from the list below…
- 4 Spotify Playlist Types That Feature Your Music For Free
- How to Build a Music Marketing Plan of Attack
- How to Get New Spotify Followers From Scratch
- Music Publishing Companies: The Musician’s Guide
- Online Music Networking Sites: 5 Sites Where You Need to Be Seen
Get Your Free Copy of The Complete Guide to Music Marketing 2021
This book includes more than 80 pages of music marketing strategies, resources and aha moments that work in 2021.