Finishing our series on supporting roles, we’ll also be looking at the types of contracts used to engage the people we’ve discussed and some of the contracts artists may be asked to sign (only briefly, this is not a substitute for a specialist industry lawyer).
If you don’t actually want to be an artist but you still want to work in the industry there are many avenues open to you and many types of contracts.
Employment – e.g. by a major record company
Self-Employment/Entrepreneur – e.g. independent label, manager
Freelance – e.g. plugger, P.R officer, session musician
Session mucisians would normally have a contract determined by the Musicians Union e.g. rate per hour, minimum no of hours per booking, but it takes a while to build up the contacts and reputation needed. There are online services where you can actually record your part at home if you can convince people you’re worth paying for.
Pluggers promote songs to radio (record pluggers) or to music publishers (song pluggers) and would normally have a contract based on performance e.g. a basic fee then bonuses for radio plays and/or chart positions. They hopefully have the necessary contacts to get your music to the right people (if not, why are you employing them?).
Artist – Venue Contract
This should state what the act provides and receives e.g. the act will perform for 4 hours and will receive 15% of door take plus £20 drinks budget. If an agent is involved they will most likely take a 10% cut in addition.
Record Company Contract
These are normally for a minimum no of albums but the record company has the option to terminate early if not satisfied with sales, etc. The artist has no such option. Most terms are open to negotiation but unless you are in great demand the record company may not be too flexible in their terms. Record companies were traditionally only paid on record sales (i.e. no entitlement to copyright royalties, merchandising etc.) but this is changing. Be wary of 360 deals which include a share of ALL your income (music related at least), but nowadays they are hard to avoid, certainly with majors. If the record company do not make back what they spent on the artist the artist is not obliged to pay back any such debts. – (see here for more)
Artist – Manager Contract
This normally covers all areas of an acts career and entitles the manager to 20% of the acts royalties (including those from merchandising, touring, product endorsements, etc.). If the manager does not perform well enough there may well be conditions within the contract to allow the act to terminate it.
This generally assigns total copyright ownership to the publisher in return for the publisher’s services and a percentage (typically 60%) of all profits the publisher receives from writer’s material. – (see here for more)