Here’s a quick rant. I’ve been working with a lot of artists lately on their record deals with small labels, and I want to talk about some things that should not be happening. I’ll expand on this post some day, but for now here are some general gripes (and a caveat, obviously these gripes don’t hold true in every situation):
- Your record label isn’t your publisher, so they shouldn’t be taking your publisher’s share of copyright as part of your recording contract. Bonus points for overreach when the label takes a piece of your writer’s share as well. Your songwriting copyright should be held as sacred, and publishers should compensate you well to take a piece of it. If your label is also a publisher, then ideally that’s a separate deal with separate consideration.
- 50/50 net profit split is 50/50 net profit split: If you agree to split profits, but then you a) change the percentage for a number of things, or b) make expenses (other than advances) recoupable, or c) include inappropriate expenses in the net calculation, then it’s no longer a 50/50 deal. Artists – pay close attention to how gross and net calculations are being made.
- Your merch is your merch: The label shouldn’t be taking a cut. The label shouldn’t be making their own merch with your name and logo. And if they are doing those things, they should be paying you for the privilege.
- Your record label isn’t your manager (or at least, they probably shouldn’t be): There’s a good reason to have your manager be someone outside your label – they need to push and prod your label, and make sure your career is moving forward. But some labels unfortunately seem to see a ‘management fee’ as a way to turn a 50/50 split into something that’s more in their favour.
Okay, there’s many more (maybe this is a series), but for now rant over. Indie labels, please be better.