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Black & White Equals Green: Agreements that Get You Paid in the Music Business

Micah 'Shinobi X' Jennings
Posted by Micah 'Shinobi X' Jennings on Oct 7

IMG_3367.jpgPhoto Credit: Brandon Davis for A3C Media Services

Legal representation is everything when it comes to making money in the music business. Before any artist or producer can fully focus on the creation process of a record, the legal papers dividing the creative responsibilities must be in order. In the "5 Contracts, Every Artist Should Know" panel, entertainment lawyers Michael Epstein, Evita Kaigler, Matthew Wilson and Giles Walters drop plenty of gems that any artist, producer, or songwriter should be away of when conducting good business. 

IMG_3375.jpgPhoto Credit: Brandon Davis for A3C Media Services

Here are the top three agreements discussed that will help you be professional in the music industry:

Recording Agreement

A recording agreement ensures that everyone involved in the creative process has their rights protected. This allows specifications to be made with payment so that everyone is compensated fairly. 

"Split sheets must be administered before the song is done. You’re doing good business when you have the paperwork done first,” said Michael Epstein of Chase Lawyers.

Creatives should always protect their copyrights if they want to see revenue in this business. This allows labels to have their obligations written in black and white with no disagreements on their cut of artist earnings.

Side Artist Agreement

A side artist agreement is used when an artist, producer, or songwriter hires an artist, vocalist, or musician to be featured on his or her project. Most of the time a flat fee is given on work for hire basis, and the content can be used by the officiating artist, so they have full control of the copyright.

Matthew Wilson of Arnall Golden Gregory LLP said, “Labels and artist that are still upcoming in the industry should focus on work for hire agreements. This allows them the financial freedom to move your record as you please without worrying about another copyright holder.”

Distribution Agreement

When it comes to a distribution agreement, the terms and conditions, sales territories, and time which the contract is in effect are the primary components. There are a lot of distribution services online such as CD Baby and Tune Core that many independent artists can thrive off of.

There are plenty of distribution companies that will try to add special language to the terms and conditions section of your deal, entitling them to the publishing of your record. It's essential that you read every contract with detail and or legal representation before signing any documents!

Topics: contracts, legal

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