becoming increasingly popular, these contracts involve all the important aspects of an artist’s career; for example merchandise, receipts from live performance tickets as well as sponsorship deals etc. Whilst such deals are becoming increasingly more popular as sales of recorded music decline, they are something that artists should be wary of because merchandising etc is traditionally a major source of income for up-and-coming artists.
Below is a glossary of:
artist and repertoire, this is the division of a record label that decides who the label should sign i.e. the people you need to impress. Once signed the A & R division will oversee the recording of the record and may also assist with its promotion (even if it’s as simple as picking the single).
an amount paid by a record label or publisher to an artist on signing (usually) a contract with them. The advances are given in order to pay recording costs and to give the artist money to live on until royalties start flooding (hopefully) in. However it is important to remember that the advances are recoupable from royalties before the artist starts to see any royalties in their bank account.
Association of Independent Music Limited.
the party acquiring a right from a party (assignor).
a transfer of ownership of rights by the owner (assignor) to another party (assignee).
the party who owns a right and is transferring (assigning) it to another party (assignee).
booking agents work with venues in order to book gigs for artists, some venues will be happy to work directly with artists however some will not and the artist will need to enlist a booking agent in order to reach these venues.
British Phonographic Institute.
an umbrella term that covers a number of distinct rights. Fundamentally it is the right that the author of a work has to prevent others from doing certain things with that particular work without consent.
every record contract will have a minimum as to what is required from the artist i.e. 3 tracks, 1 album (with minimum track lengths etc) etc.
a demo is simply a demonstrative (hence demo) recording of your music, it will tend to be 3-4 tracks and will in all likelihood not be of a commercially releasable standard. The purpose of the demo is simply to get industry (management / record label) interest in your music.
if A & R are impressed by what they hear of you from your demo or from seeing a live performance then they may want you to record further demos for them. Under such an agreement the record label (and increasingly publishers are offering such deals) will pay for studio and production time for such recordings and will use this to determine whether to take the relationship further i.e. to sign you to full recording deal. As with any agreement there are a number of pitfalls to look out for but in particular you need to be checking for re-record restrictions and anything assigning the rights in the songs themselves as opposed to merely rights in the sound recordings of the same.
the name given to a variation of the exclusive recording contract where the record label signs the artist up exclusively for a period of time, during this time the artist may record some tracks, perhaps even an EP but there will not be the kind of advances or funding that you might expect to see in a normal exclusive recording contract (if there is such a thing). If things go well then the label may take up the option to record an album etc.
electronic press packages.
a recording agreement where the artist contracts to provides its services exclusively to the record label for the duration of the contract. This is the most common form of recording contract although there are a number of variations of this for example a development deal.
self explanatory but often used in relation to contracts, determines whether or not the contract is an exclusive one i.e. the artist cannot perform or record (or whatever else the contract related to) for another party during the term of the contract.
finder’s agreements are becoming increasingly popular. Where a producer, studio owner or other industry figure likes what they hear, but do not have either the money to invest in your music or do not wish to manage you, then they may see an opportunity in using their contacts to further your career. They are unlikely to do so out of the goodness of their heart and will in all likelihood want you to sign a finder’s agreement whereby if you sign up to a record or publishing deal within the duration of the agreement (usually 6-12 months) then they are due a percentage (usually 5-10% but does vary).
an agreement allowing a party (licensee) to do something with the right(s) of another party (licensor).
the party licensing a right from a party (licensor).
the party who owns a right and is licensing it to another party (licensee).
aka ‘the big 4’ these are the four largest record labels in the world namely: Sony ATV/Music Publishing, EMI Group, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group.
the industry is currently moving away from its reliance on managers however still for the majority of artists getting a good manager is the starting point for their career. A good manager can put you in contact with all of the right people, get you the right gigs, get your demos into the hands (and ears) of the decision makers and offer invaluable advice (and hopefully negotiation clout) for your career. It is however important to ensure that the manager you go for really does know the industry, check out other artists he / she has worked for, speak to them and ensure that you read over the management agreement carefully.
after mixing of a recording it is mastered, this is the process by which the final recording is tweaked to make it as good as possible prior to manufacture.
the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, the collecting society that deals with mechanical and synchronisation rights.
the stage between production of a recording and mastering, this is the stage where all of the separate parts (known as ‘tracks’) of the recording are put together and the level of each altered to make the best sound for the recording as a whole.
moral rights describes certain non-economic rights granted to authors, directors and performers. These rights include the rights to be identified as the author, the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work, the right against false attribution and the right to privacy in respect of certain films and photographs.
Musicians’ Union, the only UK trade union consisting solely of musicians.
known as the MMF the Music Managers Forum is a lobbying group for its members (music managers).
an option is a contractual clause giving a party the choice (hence option) as to whether to take up further services from the other party. This is often used in recording agreements whereby the record label will initially contract with the artist for the recording of one single, the contract will then contain various ‘options’ allowing the label to then agree for a second single, a first album, a second album and so on. Each of these options will follow in turn so that the label can make the decision based on the commercial success of the preceding release.
not as common as they once were but P – standing for production (in this case meaning manufacture) – & – D – standing for distribution – deals can still be found. As the name suggests it is simply a contract whereby both manufacture and distribution are handled by one company.
the rights awarded to a performer to prevent another party from doing certain things with their performances or recordings of their performances.
Phonographic Performance Limited, the record industry’s licensing body.
a producer oversees a recording and can have dramatic effect on the end results. Accordingly producers are paid highly and can often expect a royalty in addition to an up-front fee.
production deals are another variety of exclusive recording agreement. The term covers contracts where a small label, manager, studio or other party signs an artist up (at an early stage of their career) to an exclusive recording agreement but without the finance to really push the artists. The aim is then to basically sell the artist on i.e. assign the contract to a bigger label for a fee or licence the rights off of them.
a promoter is responsible for booking artists to perform at particular venues.
the Performing Rights Society, the collecting society that deals with performing rights for example playing a song in a shop etc.
a music publisher pushes an artists’ works for use on films, TV, sound recordings etc and collects the money earned from such use.
once a recording is delivered to the label there will need to be a commitment from the label as to release of the recording in a particular territory and within a particular period of time. If such a commitment is not in place then the label could simply never release the recording.
a clause preventing an artist from re-recording material previously recorded for the record company.
restraint of trade is a legal principle. Basically it refers to the situation where a person is under an exclusive contract to provide services to a party and that contract contains restrictions on what that person can and cannot do. Such a contract will restrict the person’s ability to earn a living (as it is exclusive) and thus is a restraint of trade. Take for example an exclusive recording agreement, without provisions forcing the label to release the recordings (or otherwise to release the artist from the contract) then the artist could simply be prevented from earning a living, this is where restraint of trade would come in and would render the contract unenforceable.
very simply the amount (almost always a percentage) that a record label / publisher will account to the artist for.
some recording studios may offer you what is known as a ‘studio deal’ if you do not have the money to finance a recording yourself. Basically the label gives you free recording time in return for a percentage of royalties you earn from sales of the records.
(also known as post-term commission) sunrise commission refers to the commission payable to an ex manager after the end of a management contract. It exists because of the massive part a manager can play in the success of an artist, if the artist then goes elsewhere it is only fair that the manager be rewarded for his or her efforts. It will be dealt with as a clause of the management contract and is often the subject of heavy negotiation.
the geographical limits of a right or agreement for example the UK, US or even Worldwide.
a legal doctrine which dictates that a contract will not be binding on a party where that party was the subject of overriding or undue influence by a person who is in a fiduciary capacity to the signing party. For example a manager pressuring an artist to sign a contract against his or her own judgment.
Video Performance Limited, the record industry’s licensing body for music videos.