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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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