Contract Drafting and Negotiation

Getting “signed” is of course exciting and what many musicians work towards. However, it is important that you don’t just sign the dotted line.

Over an artist’s career, you will see a large number of contracts- the agreement with a manager, record deal, publishing deal, sponsorship deal, manufacturing deal, band agreements, manufacturing and distribution, and much more. These agreements are often very long and full of legal language, designed specifically to confuse. Our experts will guide you through the contracting and negotiating process, ensuring that you know exactly what you’re entering into.

Our team of lawyers can also prepare a range of industry agreements and offer insightful commercial advice on the terms of those arrangements to ensure your best interests are represented. We will work with you to protect your rights and obtain the best deal possible.

We can also explain at what points and how you should expect to get paid.

1. The Licence Deal

Under a licence deal the artist licenses the use of their recordings to a record label. The licence would usually permit the label to manufacture, distribute and sell named recordings.

2. The Exclusive Recording Contract

Under this type of deal the label are appointed to exclusively manage the artist’s music for at least one year. The label may also reserve the right to renew the contract for further periods of time.

During the term of the contract, the label will usually require the artist to record at least one album and in return, the label will agree to invest time and resources in the artist.

3. The Development Deal

In contrast to the exclusive recording contract, a development deal is an agreement that the artist will record a number of demos or singles for the label, rather than a full album. The investment from the label will usually be limited to recording costs.

The label will then monitor the success of the artists with a view to hopefully offering them an exclusive contract if all goes well.

4. The Production Deal

This type of deal is made instead between the artists and a production company. The production company will then license or assign the recordings made to a label. This will usually be done through a licensing deal or assignment.

The production company then works to develop the artist with a view to getting them a deal with a major label.

5. The 360 Deal

As seen above, typical recording contracts involve the label investing money in the artist to record and album. The record label will then take a percentage or royalties from the record sales.

In a 360 deal, however, the record company has a hand in most or all aspects of the band, including revenues from live events, touring and merchandise.

These deals are becoming more common, but, whilst these contracts can work to your advantage, they also carry a different type of risk than other contracts. Specialist legal advice should be sought to go through the many aspects of these deals.

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Music publishing contracts are used to set out the legal relationship between writers and music publishers.

They deal with the rights in the musical and lyrical copyright works, which are separate from the rights in sound recordings (dealt with in recording contracts).

Publishing contracts may relate to just one work, or a number of works created over a certain period of time.

The role of the music publisher is to earn money by exploiting the rights in the works on behalf of the writers. They do this by issuing licences to people such as advertising companies to sync the music with adverts and moving images or to people who wish to perform your music.

The rights in musical and lyrical copyright works are extremely valuable to you. It is therefore essential that any publishing contract is understood by both the writer and the publisher, and that they reflect the commercial terms which have been agreed between them.

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For more information contact John Tunnard:
0114 218 4394