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Record Label Signing Catches in the contract

  • 5 min read

Before You Consider Signing With Record Labels. There are some things that you need to consider before you get ripped off. These are some common record label signing catches.

Avoiding Record Label Signing Catches

I came into the industry on its last decade-long gasp for life. Things had already been established from the late 1960s up until the 2000s on a solid business platform. It was promoted to be the shining beacon you aimed for being “signed”. I Learned over a six-month negotiation via mailing management contracts and the revisions of said contracts back and forth between Los Angeles and Ohio the ropes of the Business. I was fortunate. My dad was a Harvard Graduate who studied Business, Economics, and Law and practiced all three in his work. 

He turned his eyes to these documents and said no. Then he rewrote my Management contract. using such things as a: fidelity clause. Which in normal circumstances was only used in the stock market. I highly advise anyone to look into this. It compels your manager, or booking agent, or even Record label to work for you to generate a set amount of money per year. If they do not, then they Have to Pay you that same amount for not working out of their pocket.

So you have a Management deal which deducts 20% on average of all income. A Publishing deal that owns 50% of your songwriting in perpetuity IF they make one dollar off that song. Then The “Record Deal” which Owns YOU. If they don’t like the record you made they shelve it and you are still in debt. It’s a very dangerous situation that you should already get ready for filing bankruptcy the moment you sign it, It seems they are treating you like Royalty, You get an advance to make the record, you get a great record producer, you have an artist relations guy bringing you Beer and pizza and if you reach any success you are out eating at fancy restaurants and in a Limo. 

The perks are going on your bill it’s in the record label contracts

The problem is You don’t know every penny of it is being added to your bill. They don’t tell you that. Even some of the Music Legends who Became multi-platinum artists like Black Sabbath found out they had luxurious homes and cars after all those years of work. When there was a problem with the Label, and you got dropped, they discovered the company owned their house and car and you are now homeless and bankrupt.

Publishing is the other area where you must read that paperwork. Young acts get blinded and realize later they didn’t sign away 50%, they signed 100% away. The Last Band that did that until it became more an issue of public knowledge was the Black Crowes in 1990.

The final straw for me was arriving in Los Angeles on my own money at the manager’s office and being told the Label owner also wanted 50% of my songwriting. So I would make so many cents per unit sold on an album and most money generated would be going into everyone else’s pocket for 5 years. 

If there was a dispute and I quit I could not work as a musician. If 7 years not working passed and I did a show the remainder of the contract came right back into play. Then the manager slid the contract over and didn’t expect me to read it. I looked it over and realized it was the old version, not the revised version. 

After a Nuclear Bomb of a lecture from me, I took every copy of every contract in the office and the next morning left for Ohio.”My parting shot was If he wants 50% of songwriting then he better get busy writing some songs. 

Tell him the first song should be titled Conflict of interest from the album Attempted Fraud .”  I landed in Ohio 28 hours after I left Ohio. But I owned me. The record company had nothing for or from me. This to a lesser extent can apply to some indie labels but it’s just truly just about making sure you read everything and if you are still not sure, consult a music attorney. Better yet, Do it yourself. DIY!

 Let this be a warning to all.

Related video warning about record label contracts and legal issues

I am not the only one warning about the dangers of signing to record labels. In this video, he explains some of the benefits of using a label but if you are not 💯% about everything you sign up for you could be getting a really bad deal. It’s a must to speak with a lawyer before signing up with labels. 

Thanks for reading and watching the video. If you have any of your own opinions or something else to add, leave a comment and consider sharing this with others on Facebook and other social networking sites.

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Jimmy Fleming

Jimmy Fleming first picked up a guitar at the age of 3. Raised in a musical environment which included being on the road in the 1970s and 1980s with his parents working with Bluegrass Legends there was no such thing as life without music. Bluegrass was gradually eclipsed by The Rock and Blues of The Stones, Rush, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a wealth of others, as well as the Film Woodstock. All the possibilities were now open. At 16 he got a driver's license and began playing HonkyTonk Bars learning trial by fire the diversity of music required to make sure a crowd of all tastes was properly entertained. 15 years of the Proverbial Human JukeBox on the roads was the Education. The second 15 years were applied in learning to write his own music and become an Indie record producer and Label owner.10 albums later the story continues. listen or download my music here