If you have good songs and a real desire to make music, the next thing to do, instead of approach record companies, is to get yourself a really good manager because then it allows you to focus on your profession of being a musician. Then they can focus on the darker art of the record label and the music industry. – James Blunt
This is 2018 where art seems to be synonymous with business, especially music. Earning a livelihood is a lot easier now than it was ever before. You do not need to stand on metro stations and sing while you wait for someone to notice your talent, like Ed Sheeran. All you need is a mobile phone and a working internet connection to start earning. However, the internet does not promise any signing bonuses, royalties, publishing or endorsement, well the last one may be but, maybe.
What internet can do for you is bring you closer to the labels and get you noticed. Once again, this is 2018 where SoundCloud rappers are getting signed, the sound is all the more international, the sphere is flooded with young, fresh and hungry artists. To all these bright lights and neon lamps that read – ‘Sign Here’, there is a situation, the one that one calls ‘Catch 22’. According to Wikipedia, it means:
A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules.
Now that you understand all of what is being said above, let’s focus on what’s more important – the labels and monopolies. Just signing a label doesn’t promise you success, it’s just like the internet, just a little more hostile, harsh and hard. No, we are not saying that all the labels are the same that’d be a sad statement for anyone and blasphemous to the few good ones out there.
There are a few reasons as to why someone signs to a record label. The reasons may include fame, money, recognition, reach and a lot more. The labels are more like a boss that wants you to do your work, his work and little more for the least possible remuneration.
Here are 5 things that you should make sure that you know before you sign that paper:
Duration of contract:
This is one of the most important and the foremost things that you should pay heed to. When you sign your first contract, It is the start of your professional career. Based on your talent, fanbase, and capacity, the labels may offer you various deals.
Generally the contract are for a duration of one year which is absolutely fine to go into, if all the factors check out fine. However, there are cases where the labels would want you to sign for a longer duration.
Do not fall into the trap thinking the longer you are signed the better it is. The labels like to lockdown a few artists and in case you are not able to perform as per the demands, there can be serious repercussions. The most important being, you might end as a failure in the market despite whatever you say.
An important part of any music deal is getting paid for your work – today, tomorrow and further. Since music records are not made for one day, they live longer, even longer than you. You get paid royalties for all the music that sells with your sound on it. Always make sure that the label offers a good percentage of that sales as royalty to you.
For example, Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones had his daughter written off as an executive producer for the 1993 album ‘Illmatic’. His daughter gets royalties paid to her to this date. Royalties are aptly named we suppose.
This is one thing labels might want you to agree in turn for everything that they offer or agree for. Creative control ensures that you are able produce what your fans want you to but the label may state otherwise.
The bosses may want you to work on something/some idea that has been going around in the industry while totaling chucking on your own sound. No matter what label you sign to, just make sure that you have enough creative control of your product so that you are able to move in the right direction.
You are here because of your fans and they would want to listen to more of what they already have and what they expect not what the label bosses suggest. You should have the 100% creative control over everything you create. – Says The Projekt
Release Commitment/Free Shopping Rights
After the completion of contract, some labels may takes ages in relieving you with the final settlement. Always make sure that your label gives you time to shop around for contract if not continue after the completion of contract. This will give you more time in planning your next move and it also makes you feel free/creative.
This is one major factor that you should treat before starting any conversation with the label. There’s more to being a musician in these ages. In order to set yourself ahead of the game is to do yourhomework. You should consider label’s history with the genre or any case that you might come across inyour research. One should always check how the label treated/treats it artists and how well a label tackled past issues.
Also, go ahead with what that mind says or better let the manager think for you and you think of music.
Go get that paper now!