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Music & Film - Recording Contract

Recording Contracts

Getting signed to a record label is something that many artists aspire to achieve – it is a recognition of their craft. We have extensive experience on both sides of the fence. We advise artists and record labels and will ensure that the recording contract reflects our client’s needs whilst being fair on both parties.

A recording contract essentially deals with the artist as “the product”. The artist’s creative energy is a resource for fuelling their career. When an artist enters into a recording contract with a record label, it is the record label’s duty to use that resource to expose the music the artist creates to the world for the benefit of all the parties involved. For this reason, it is very important that a recording contract has to be fair.

We often hear stories from clients where the artist has entered into an onerous contract with a record label because they’ve jumped at the chance of being “signed”. We want our prospective clients to avoid this situation by ensuring that the recording contract that they have been offered is not one sided or unclear. Both parties need to benefit from these agreements for the important relationship between the artist and the label to flourish. We can help by reviewing a recording contract for an artist to confirm that the obligations and responsibilities of both parties, as well as the ownership of the intellectual property rights, have been set out in a mutually beneficial way.

We are also able to assist record labels in the same way – when drafting recording contracts, we make sure that everything is set out clearly and in an easy to understand manner. By having a professionally drafted agreement, as opposed to one that is “off-the-shelf”, we can guarantee that all your requirements will be met. You can then be left to enjoy the more exciting aspects of the music industry, safe in the knowledge that all the legalities have been taken care of.

Publishing Contracts

Unlike recording contracts, which essentially deal with the exploitation of the artist, music publishing agreements essentially deal with the exploitation of the music the artist creates – the music is “the product”. Confusingly, however, it is not uncommon for the two to be combined into one!

There are a number of different types of publishing contracts and we can help artists, record labels or music publishers to understand the way in which the law works when it is concerned with the publishing of an artist’s repertoire. Music publishing typically deals with the exposure of the artist’s music for commercial purposes. For that reason, and depending on the arrangement that the artist has with any record label, a music publisher may be granted some ownership rights in the music that has been created.

A further aspect of music publishing is that of music publishing “synchronisation” – namely the circumstances in which a piece of music is set to an audio-visual project, including feature films, TV shows or music videos. This type of music publishing is often attractive for artists as it allows their music to be exposed to potential fans that may not necessarily have heard of them before.

We appreciate that music publishing is one of the more complex areas of music law, and that some of it can be difficult to fully understand – we can help with that – and will be happy to advise on any music publishing contract, or draft one specifically to suit your needs.

Production Contracts

Artists that carry out bespoke work for specific projects usually do so in accordance with the terms and conditions of a production contract. The work may involve the production of a new piece of music, or it may involve the creation of a remix. We can draft or advise on these types of contracts, and will ensure that both parties get what they need from the relationship.

One of the most important elements that needs to be handled in a production contract is the ownership of the intellectual property rights in the music that has been created. Where music has been written for a specific client, the music may be subject to an assignment upon completion, or, in the event the artist wishes to retain ownership, it may be subject to an exclusive or non-exclusive licence.

When drafting or reviewing production contracts we take into consideration the individual circumstances that exist between the parties, the type of work being created and the outcome that is needed – writing a score for a film, producing a remix and writing the backing track for another band’s song are all very different activities, and it is important for the production contract to reflect the differing legal standpoints in respect of each. We will be happy to help musicians understand the difference between the types of activities that they may be required to carry out under a production contract so that they appreciate where they will stand at the end of the production in respect of ownership of their music and the payment they should receive.

Artist Management, Artist Performance and Royalty Collection

Perhaps you do not run a record label, but specialise in promotion. When you come across some new and interesting talent, one of the first jobs is to secure that artist to your roster so that you may promote their music to the world. We have dealt with many management agencies, and are able to advise on the pros and cons of carrying out business in a variety of different ways. One of the key facets of a manager is to secure venues at which the artist can perform – we do not know many people that do not enjoy going to concerts!

We are able to assist artists and management agencies on any queries they might have relating to artist management or artist performance – including, and often most importantly, on issues relating to royalty collection.

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