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Encyclopedia > Recording contract
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Contract Law
Part of the common law series
Contract theory
Contract formation
Offer and acceptance  · Mailbox rule
Mirror image rule  · Invitation to treat
Defenses against formation
Lack of capacity to contract
Duress  · Undue influence
Illusory promise  · Statute of frauds
Non est factum
Contract interpretation
Parol evidence rule
Contract of adhesion
Integration clause
Contra proferentem
Excuses for non-performance
Mistake  · Misrepresentation
Frustration of purpose  · Impossibility
Unclean hands  · Unconscionability
Illegality  · Accord and satisfaction
Rights of third parties
Privity of contract
Assignment  · Delegation
Novation  · Third party beneficiary
Breach of contract
Anticipatory repudiation  · Cover
Exclusion clause  · Efficient breach
Fundamental breach
Specific performance
Liquidated damages
Penal damages  · Rescission
Quasi-contractual obligations
Promissory estoppel
Quantum meruit
Subsets: Conflict of law
Commercial law
Other areas of the common law
Tort law  · Property law
Wills and trusts
Criminal law  · Evidence

A recording contract (commonly called a record deal) is a legal agreement between a record label and a recording artist (or group), where the artist makes a record (or series of records) for the label to sell and promote. Artists under contract are normally only allowed to record for that label exclusively; guest appearances on other artists' records will carry a notice "By courtesy of (the name of the label)", and that label may receive a percentage of sales. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... Image File history File links Scale_of_justice. ... A contract is a legally binding exchange of promises or agreement between parties that the law will enforce. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Contract theory comprises many different theories and various interpretations of the various body of rules and subrules that define Contract Law. ... Offer and acceptance analysis is a traditional approach in contract law used to determine whether an agreement exists between two parties. ... The mailbox rule or the postal acceptance rule is a term of common law contracts which determines the timing of acceptance of an offer when mail is contemplated as the medium of acceptance. ... In the law of contracts, the mirror image rule states that an offer must be accepted exactly without modifications. ... In contract law, an invitation to treat (invitation to bargain in the US) is an action by one party which may appear to be a contractual offer but which is actually inviting others to make an offer of their own. ... Consideration is something that is done or promised in return for a contractual promise. ... The capacity of both natural and artificial persons determines whether they may make binding amendments to their rights, duties and obligations, such as getting married or merging, entering into contracts, making gifts, or writing a valid will. ... Duress in the context of contract law is a common law defence, and if you are successful in proving that the contract is vitiated by duress, you can rescind the contract, since it is then voidable. ... Undue influence (as a term in jurisprudence) is an equitable doctrine that involves one person taking advantage of a position of power over another person. ... In contract law, an illusory promise is one that courts will not enforce. ... The statute of frauds refers to a requirement in many common law jurisdictions that certain kinds of contracts, typically contractual obligations, be done in writing. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A standard form contract (sometimes referred to as an adhesion contract or boilerplate contract) is a contract between two parties that does not allow for negotiation, i. ... An integration clause, in the contract law, is a term in the language of the contract that declares it to be the complete and final agreement between the parties. ... Contra preferendum or contra preferentem is the rule in contract law that is applied when interpreting a clause, especially an exclusion clause, in an action that says that, where ambiguity as to a terms meaning exists, it should be read against the party who wrote it. ... In contract law a mistake is incorrect understanding by one or more parties to a contract and may be used as grounds to invalidate the agreement. ... In contract law, a misrepresentation is a false statement of fact made by one party to another party and has the effect of inducing that party into the contract. ... Frustration of purpose is a term used in the law of contracts to describe a defense to an action for non-performance based on the occurance of an unforseen event which makes performance impossible or commercially impracticable. ... Impossible is also a name of a skateboarding trick. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... An illegal agreement, under the common law of contract, is one that the courts will not enforce because the purpose of the agreement is to achieve an illegal end. ... Accord and satisfaction is the purchase of the release from a debt obligation. ... The doctrine of privity in contract law provides that a contract cannot confer rights or impose obligations arising under it on any person or agent except the parties to it. ... An assignment is a term used with similar meanings in the law of contracts and in the law of real estate. ... Delegation is a term used in the law of contracts to describe the act of giving another person the responsibility of carrying out the performance agreed to in a contract. ... Novation is a term used in contract law and business law to describe the act of either replacing an obligation to perform with a new obligation, or replacing a party to an agreement with a new party. ... A third party beneficiary, in the law of contracts, is a person who may have the right to sue on a contract, despite not having originally been a party to the contract. ... Breach of contract is a legal concept in which a binding agreement or bargained-for exchange is not honored by one or more of the parties to the contract by non-performance or interference with the other partys performance. ... Anticipatory repudiation (or anticipatory breach) is a term in the law of contracts that describes a declaration by one party (the promissing party) to a contract that they do not intend to live up to their obligations under the contract. ... Cover is a term used in the law of contracts to describe a remedy available to a merchant buyer who has received an anticipatory repudiation of a contract for the receipt of goods. ... An exclusion clause is a term in a contract that seeks to restrict the rights of the parties to the contract. ... Efficient breach refers to a breach of contract that the breaching party considers desirable even when the legal and economic ramifications of such a breach are considered. ... Fundamental breach, sometimes known as a repudiatory breach, is a breach so fundamental that it permits the aggrieved party to terminate performance of the contract, in addition to entitling that party to sue for damages. ... Definition of Specific performance In the law of remedies, a specific performance is a demand of a party to perform a specific act. ... Liquidated damages is a term used in the law of contracts to describe a contractual term which establishes damages to be paid to one party if the other party should breach the contract. ... Penal damages are best seen as quantitatively excessive liquidated damages and are invalid under the common law. ... In contract law, rescission (to rescind or set aside a contract) refers to the cancellation of the contract between the parties. ... Estoppel is a concept that prevents a party from acting in a certain way because it is not equitable to do so. ... Quantum meruit is a Latin phrase meaning as much as he has deserved. In the context of contract law, it means something along the lines of reasonable value of services. Situations The concept of quantum meruit applies to the following situations: I. When a person employs (impliedly or expressly) another... International private law, private international law or conflict of laws is the branch of private law which regulates lawsuits involving foreign laws or jurisdictions. ... Commercial law or business law is the body of law which governs business and commerce and is often considered to be a branch of civil law and deals both with issues of private law and public law. ... In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The law of trusts and estates is generally considered the body of law which governs the management of personal affairs and the disposition of property of an individual in anticipation and the event of such persons incapacity or death, also known as the law of successions in civil law. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of statutory and common law that deals with crime and the legal punishment of criminal offenses. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e. ... This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A musician is a person who plays or composes music. ...

Labels typically own the copyright in the records their artists make, and also the master copies of those records. An exception is when a label makes a distribution deal with an artist; in this case, the artist, their manager, or another party may own the copyright (and masters), while the record is licensed exclusively to the label for a set period of time. Promotion is a key factor in the success of a record, and is largely the label's responsibility, as is proper distribution of records. Articles with similar titles include copywrite. ... A master recording is an original recording, from which copies may be made. ... A legal agreement between one party and another, to handle distribution of a product. ... How to obtain a amature radio licence differs from country to country. ... Scale model of a Wheaties cereal box at a pep rally Promotion is one of the four aspects of marketing. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Marketing Distribution is one of the four aspects of marketing. ...

While initial recording deals usually yield a relatively small percentage of royalties to artists, subsequent (or renegotiated) deals can result in much greater profit, or profit potential. A few performers, such as Michael Jackson, have signed multimillion-dollar contracts. As a rule, though, for the millions to become tangible, hit records meeting or exceeding their previous sales records must follow. Recording contracts may include opt-out clauses, in the event an artist's popularity dips or they release one or more non-hits under the deal; Mariah Carey was bought out of her Virgin Records contract after her one album release with the label sold poorly. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For other persons named Michael Jackson, see Michael Jackson (disambiguation). ... A sound recording, usually in the form of a single or album, that sells a large number of copies or otherwise becomes broadly popular or well-known, through airplay, club play, or inclusion in a soundtrack. ... Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, music video director and actress. ... Virgin Records is a British recording label founded by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, and Nik Powell in 1972. ...

Unless worded otherwise, any advances or upfront money paid to a recording artist is owed back to the label, whether the recordings to follow sell well or not. Capitol Records suspended Linda Ronstadt's contract in the early 1970s, but she continued to tour partly to pay Capitol back for her 1960s deal, which cost Capitol more than it had yielded. (Her string of hits in the mid-1970s allowed her to finally clear the debt.) Labels expect to make a profit, and little concern themselves with a given performer's lack of business or financial savvy, as artists such as George Michael have discovered. "Walking out" on a deal is very difficult, as is attempting to strike a new deal without completing an old one; recordings released by Donna Summer and by members of Boston (calling themselves "Orion the Hunter") were pulled from distribution after their former labels took legal action. The Mamas and the Papas were forced into a reunion years after their 1968 breakup, by the letter of their Dunhill Records contract, which required one more album to be completed (1971's People Like Us). Capitol Records is a major United States-based record label, owned by EMI. // The Capitol Records company was founded by the songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, with the financial help of movie producer Buddy DeSylva and the business acumen of Glenn Wallichs, (1910-1971) (owner of Music City, at the... Linda Maria Ronstadt (born July 15, 1946) is a multi-Grammy-winning, multi-platinum selling and Emmy Award-winning American singer most closely associated with the folk rock and country rock genres that prevailed throughout the 1970s. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, In the Western world, the focus shifted from the social activism of the sixties to social activities for ones own pleasure, save for environmentalism, which continued in a very visible way. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (Greek: Γιώργος-Κυριάκος Παναγιώτου), better known as George Michael (born on June 25, 1963) is an English [1] singer-songwriter and pop star who performs soul influenced pop, and who (as a solo artist and half of the duo WHAM!) has enjoyed global success since 1982. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Mamas & the Papas were a leading vocal group of the 1960s, and one of the few American groups to maintain widespread success during the British Invasion, along with The Beach Boys. ... Dunhill Records was started by Lou Adler, Al Bennett, Pierre Cossette and Bobby Roberts in 1964 as Dunhill Productions, originally for the purpose of releasing Johnny Rivers recordings on Imperial Records. ...

When recordings go out of print, this typically happens because either the label has decided that continuing to sell (or distribute) the record will not be profitable, or the licensing agreement with the artist has expired. (Labels may also stop distribution as a punitive measure, if an artist fails to comply with their contract, or as a strategic measure if negotiations for a new one prove difficult.) Record labels can also become bankrupt like any business, and their masters and copyrights sold or traded as part of their assets. (Occasionally these are purchased by the artists themselves.) Notice of closure stuck on the door of a computer store the day after its parent company, Granville Technology Group Ltd, declared bankruptcy (strictly, put into administration - see text) in the UK. Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organizations to pay their...

Recording artists signed to a failed label can find themselves in limbo, unable to record for anyone but a company that is out of business (and thus cannot sell or distribute their records), and with their existing works unavailable for sale. When one label "buys out" another (or a label is purchased by an outside party), any existing copyrights and contracts held (and masters, if owned by the label) normally go with the sale. This often benefits recording artists, but not always.

Distribution deals are often renewed, but occasionally the label and whoever owns the copyright cannot come to terms for a renewal. The reason is usually that one party expects too much money, or too large a percentage of profits, to suit the other.


Breakdown of a typical Recording Contract

(i) Definitions

The first few pages of any recording contract usually deals with the definitions of words to be found in the body of the agreement.

Words such as "record", "compact disc", "territory", "A&R", "delivery" will be defined, as well as "the artist" etc.

(ii) The Term and Minimum Commitments

"The Term" is how long the contract can last for. This is an important clause because it prevents a label from binding a particular artist to them for extremely long periods.

The minimum commitment is, simply put, the least a label has to do whilst sticking to the contract. In most cases the minimum commitment is one album, with a "two album firm" being a rare deal that suggests that the label had previously engaged in a bidding war for a much sought after artist.

When you hear of a "six album deal" generally the label will only be committing to facilitating the recording of a single album but there will be the option of future products.

In many contracts there is no commitment of the label to actually release the finished product. Whether it's released or not depends on "acceptance" by the company. The label can reject delivery of an album by relying on quite precise conditions contained in the contract. The company will want the contract to say that each album must be "commercially acceptable" and a good lawyer acting on behalf of the artist should tone this down to "technically acceptable".

If the album is accepted then most labels agree to a "release commitment" which will provide that they release the album in as few major territories as they can get away with.

(iii) Exclusivity, Grant of Rights and Copyright

Record companies will ensure that the artist is restricted to making records and videos only for them. Artists will usually be permitted to appears as guests on other artists records as long as the company receives a "...appears by kind permission of..." credit and sometimes a fee or so-called "override" royalty from whichever record company is releasing the record upon which their artist guests.

The contract state that the artist is allowed to have his "performances", which may be defined as including speech, recorded by TV or radio as long as the recordings are not made available commercially without the record company's consent.

The copyright in all recordings made under the provisions of the contract will, in nearly every case, be granted to the company by the artist, as well as the rights for the company to use the artist's name and image in exploiting the recordings. The company will be granted unlimited and exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute and sell records derived from the recordings, and the right to license other companies to do so. The company will also be granted the right to do none of the forgoing if it chooses not to.

(iv) Advances, Royalties and Recording Costs

The financial side of any recording contract is extremely complex. Some of the money may be "recoupable" which means that it can be earned back from record sales, some of it is money that the label is simply expected to pay out.

In very basic terms, the record company is like a bank giving the artist a very very big loan with which to create a record. The loan is payed back slowly through sales.

For every sale the artist received a royalty, which itself has a very complex formula by which it is calculated. Some of the money goes to the record company, some to the publishing company, some to the artist's manager, some to the distributor, some to the record shop, some to the producer(s) and engineer(s) etc etc.

Also packaging deductions are made, i.e. money is taken off the royalties to factor in for the manufacture of the actual CDs, Jewel cases etc.

(v) Publishing

Music publishers own, control and exploit compositions written by songwriters. Record companies have to pay publishing companies (or unpublished writers whose works are "copyright control") for the use of these compositions. Realistically, the label must actually receive permission to reprint lyrics in album booklets, record the material in question, and distribute it, among other uses.

Under various intellectual property agreements, national and international, such as The Berne Convention, artists automatically retain copyright in their work the instant it is set into a tangible form, whether lyrics are written down, or a rough demo recording is made; so long as tangible evidence of its exceution exists, rights to the work exist. There will be considerable relinquishing of these rights upon being signed to a label and publisher, but, dependent on the various deals thereby made, artists may or may not still have much clout in determining the uses of their work.

While the Convention provides for instant copyright in the execution of any artwork, in the case of songs, a songwriter not only owns copyright in their work upon creating it tangibly, but also automatically founds their own publishing "company". Now, to diffuse confusion, this is not an actual company, nor the same thing as the publisher or label themselves, but is a legal entity which retains the rights of an individual (as does an actual company, hence the name), and serves as the identifier and body which designates ownership of certain works.

Mainly for royalty purposes, each songwriter has their own publishing "company" (realistically, a mere, unique name to which royalties are made out, and in which licenses are granted). Under the procedures of various performing rights and songwriting organizations in the world, such as ASCAP, signed artists must come up with a maximum of three possible names under which to license and administer their music (these are generally chosen based on personal significance, and most always end in the word "Music"). The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is an organization known as a collecting society that protects intellectual property, ensuring that music which is broadcast, commercially recorded, or otherwise used for profit, pays a fee to compensate the creators of that music. ...

On sheetmusic and in album liner notes, songwriting credits are given to the individuals concerned, while rights are assigned to these "companies"; each composer and musician having their own. Some famous examples include "P!nk Inside Music" (the publishing "company" of recording artist P!nk); "Songs of Golgotha Music" (the "company" of Aaronea' Wiggins), and "Welsh Witch Music" (the "company" of Stevie Nicks). The contract may or may not mention this feature of the industry, while others may provide for the artist's entitlement to up to three publishing names. They serve primarily as legal identifiers. Alecia Moore (born September 8, 1979), better known by her stage name Pink (also written as P!nk), is a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter who first gained prominence in North America in early January of 2000. ... Stephanie Lynn Stevie Nicks (born May 26, 1948) is an American singer and songwriter, best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and a long solo career, which collectively has produced over twenty Top 40 hits. ...

For usage on records, record companies pay a "mechanical royalty" to the publisher at a rate of 8.5% of the dealer price of each record (in the UK).

Another example concerns "synchronisation" rights, where a song is synchronised with moving images, such as a film. Normally, for usage in feature films and TV, publishers expect significant payment. However, in the case of promo clips (music videos) the record company will expect to receive a free or nominally priced synchronisation license - the argument being that the showing of the clip will increase record sales and thus bring mechanical royalties to the publisher.

Subsequently, anyone, including organisations, who is not the artist, publisher, or label may obtain permission, or, a license, to use the song in a certain way. Licenses include, as stated, both "mechanical" and "synchronisation" types, as well as other variations of the same. Generally, in the United States, publishers will charge $500 per 30-second synchronisation of a song. Of course, rates vary by publisher and are based on agreements made between the composer, the label, and the publisher.

Interestingly, if such deals provide for it, artists (songwriters) may actually be afforded the right to approve or reject applications for licensing their works. Such is the case with the famous sisters, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of iconic band, Heart. One instance of such power involves the 1999 Sofia Coppola film, The Virgin Suicides, for which Coppola desired to use some Heart songs due to it being set in the mid- to late-seventies. Ann (left) and Nancy Wilson, 1993 Ann Dustin Wilson (born June 19, 1950 in San Diego, California) is the lead singer of Heart. ... Ann (left) and Nancy Wilson, 1993 Nancy Wilson (born March 16, 1954) is an American singer and guitarist who, with her older sister Ann, became a part of the Seattle band Heart. ... Heart is an American rock band which came out of Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Virgin Suicides is a 1993 novel, the first by American writer Jeffrey Eugenides. ... Heart is an American rock band which came out of Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington. ...

When Sofia found out how much such synchronisation licenses would cost for the endeavour, she realized she could not legally use the music she wished to, so, hearing of her plight, the Wilson sisters granted her what the industry refers to as a "gratis license", or, rights to synchronise the songs for free. This is similar to when labels receive permission free of charge to use songs in music videos, though in the case of The Virgin Suicides, the permission was granted on a compassionate basis. The Virgin Suicides is a 1993 novel, the first by American writer Jeffrey Eugenides. ...

It is not a common feature of this clause in a recording contract to grant such creative licensing power to the artist or songwriter, and depends almost entirely on the artist's clout and relations with the publisher in that deal.

(vi) Group Provisions

Record companies generally insist on signing the band "joint and severally"; this means that instead of the group being signed to the contract as a single entity, each member of the band is signed individually. Thus, if a band splits, the company controls any solo projects that they may embark on.

(vii) Creative Control and Cost Control

Most record companies are wary of giving artists complete creative control, and this is generally only done if the artist has demonstrated they warrant it, unless the company are desperate to sign the artist.

Generally the company will have control over the choice of material, studio and the producer used "in consultation with the artist". Most of the time there isn't much dispute in this area but it does happen.

There will often (but not always) be provisions in the contract that give the artist the right to veto certain costs, such as, for example remixes. This is so that company doesn't just add more and more to the artist's debt without their consent.

(viii) Video

Promo clips (aka music videos) are heavy financial commitments made by the record companies, most shoots are between £30,000 and £50,000 with bigger artists being able to command budgets of £250,000 or more.

Recoupment of promo clips is often an area of dispute because there is no way a record company can make significant amounts of money back from them directly. Though, there is the debated format of video singles, pioneered by Madonna when her controversial video for "Justify My Love" was banned by MTV and other major music video broadcasters. She ended up selling a significant number of copies of the video, and has released songs in this format various times since. In spite of this, video singles have never been as commercially-viable as conventional audio singles, and indeed, the single format is dwindling in sales with the rise of Internet availability of both legal and gray-area music downloads. Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie (born August 16, 1958), better known as simply Madonna, is a six-time Grammy[1] and one-time Golden Globe award winning American pop singer, songwriter, record and film producer, dancer, actress, author and fashion icon. ... Justify My Love is a single released by Madonna in 1990. ...

Music videos are often taken very seriously by influential major-label artists, such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Cher, and Marilyn Manson; all of whom have made groundbreaking leaps in the production of what have become more than mere promotional clips. Each of these artists' videos often resemble in production and presentation full-fledged films, utilizing 35mm filmstock, famous directors, and lengthy shooting schedules, among special effects and expensive sets. Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie (born August 16, 1958), better known as simply Madonna, is a six-time Grammy[1] and one-time Golden Globe award winning American pop singer, songwriter, record and film producer, dancer, actress, author and fashion icon. ... For other persons named Michael Jackson, see Michael Jackson (disambiguation). ... Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere (better known as Cher) (born on May 20, 1946),[1] is an Academy Award winner American actress, singer, songwriter, and entertainer. ... Brian Hugh Warner (born January 5, 1969), better known by his stage name Marilyn Manson, is a musician and artist known for his outrageous stage persona and image as the lead singer of the band that bears the same name. ...

Michael Jackson made headway in artists' rights to command high costs for video production with his famous Thriller, arguably a movie in its own right; likewise, Marilyn Manson's video for that band's cover of Sweet Dreams pioneered a new visual technique now referred to by directors colloquially as "the Marilyn Manson shot" (an alteration of both lense-types and focal lengths simultaneously to achieve a surreal, 'blurry' look to not the entire frame, but certain portions of it). For other persons named Michael Jackson, see Michael Jackson (disambiguation). ... Michael Jacksons Thriller is a 14-minute music video for the song Thriller released on 2 December 1983 that was directed by John Landis. ... Brian Hugh Warner (born January 5, 1969), better known by his stage name Marilyn Manson, is a musician and artist known for his outrageous stage persona and image as the lead singer of the band that bears the same name. ... Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) is a New Wave album by British synth pop duo Eurythmics, released in January of 1983 (see 1983 in music). ...

Recently, Green Day made news with tallying up a considerable debt for one its recent videos, and because of these changes to the cultural and economic importance of the music video, record labels have begun to reconsider their investments in such. Green Day is an American rock band band comprising three core members: Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, lead vocals), Mike Dirnt (bass, backing vocals) and Tré Cool (drums). ...

Artists lawyers will tend to say that music videos are marketing tools and therefore should be payed for out of the company's pocket, not the artists debit balance. In respect of this, and because of the actions of artists like those aforementioned, some labels are modifying their expenditures to produce better videos, without having their artists incur so much debt.

The normal compromise is that half of the cost is recoupable from record sales, half from any other income related to that video or other videos.

There will be provisions for "long form videos", which are usually specially filmed concerts for TV or video release. The record company will nearly always want to take the artist's right to such releases.

(ix) Tour Support and Equipment

There are provisions made for the prospect of the band touring, as many artists will build up their fanbase in this way. This will usually include certain advances made in the way of tour support or equipment being bought. This clause will vary significantly from deal to deal.

Arguably the best way for a tour to increase an artist's fanbase is for the artist to book appearances not only as headliners, but also as supporting performers at large festival tours. Mainly popular in Europe, though with some North American examples, the festival concert draws the largest audience possible in the touring aspect of the industry, with the exception of televised concerts. Also, festivals offer fans of diverse demographics and tastes to partake of several different bands at one venue over a period of days.

Many of the major labels have their own "in-house" touring departments which handle nearly all aspects of an artist's tour, from transportation and equipment, to promotion and investment. Such an example is Universal Tours, the "in-house" department of mega-label, Universal Music. In such scenarios, usually only external bookers are required. Such departments are also responsible for the hiring and payment of touring personnel, such as roadies and drivers. In this capacity, an artist's contract may or may not adequately furnish their touring efforts. Universal Music Group (UMG) is the largest major label in the record industry, with a 23% market share. ... The road crew (or roadies) are the technicians who travel on tour, usually in sleeper buses, with musicians and who handle every part of the production except actually playing the music. ... Driving is the controlled operation of a vehicle, which is usually a motor vehicle such as a truck, bus, or car. ...

(x) Producers

This clause deals with how the producer's royalty is calculated.

A "name" producer will charge a royalty of between 3% and 5% of the retail price against an advance of £3,000 per track.

(xi) Auditing and Accounting

A record company will send the artist a detailed royalty statement twice a year. All record companies will allow an artist's accountant to check their books to see if the information on the royalty statement is correct. Likewise, music publishers also send royalty statements twice a year, detailing uses of an artist's work (if the artist is the songwriter) through licensing deals. Depending on an artist's publishing deal, they may or may not have a final say in who can license their music for what, purpose and fee. Both of these types of statements reflect sales and distribution, though the methods used by publishers and labels to tabulate sales and licensing data may differ dramatically, which is why the option of auditing can be very helpful.

(xii) Promotional Duties

Most contracts contain provisions whereby the artist agrees to promote the release of records free of charge other than the reimbursment of out-of-the-pocket expsenses.

Promotional activities include, for example, press interviews, photo sessions, appearing on radio and television and making personal appearances.

(xiii) Termination

Like most contracts, there are provisions for if either party makes a significant breach of the contract that mean it can be terminated.

(xiv) Miscellaneous Provisions

The contract will normally finish with a few pages of miscellaneous clauses such as:

  • That the contract is governed by law.
  • That the artist warrants that there are no restrictions which would prevent the artist from entering into the contract (such as already being signed to another label).
  • That the artist acknowledges that the sales of records are speculative and will not sue the company if not enough records are sold.
  • Specifically agreed minor terms, such as the record company paying for the legal costs in negotiating the agreement.

(xv) The signature

There is space for the artist and an authorized signatory of the record company to sign the contract.


A Band's Guide to Getting a Record Deal by Will Ashurst; ISBN 1860742432

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A record contract that is one-sided and skewed heavily in favor of the record company could be argued to be a contract of adhesion.
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