Recording contract

Hey guys,

This isn’t strictly to do with Steinberg, but seeing as I made my tracks in Cubase and you lot are so good, I thought I’d see if any of you could give me some decent advice (hopefully experience based).

I’ve released a couple of DnB tracks now on a small label. Very simple contracts, and the label manager was agreeable to me changing some terms on account of his lack of legal experience. No problems.

I’ve now been sent a contract from a considerably more notable label, owned by a famous UK Radio and Club DJ, for a new track I sent them a demo of. My issue: the contract is considerably more complex, about 10 pages long, and I’m a bit out of my depth and want to get it checked out by a solicitor. However, when I mentioned this to the label manager and asked they bear with me for a few days while the solicitor checks it over, he basically interrogated me as to why I needed one and sounded on the whole very disapproving. Now I’m starting to worry about whether I should bother getting the solicitor to check it or not and risk losing the deal altogether…

What do you guys think? Have any of you gone through this sort of thing yourselves for this type of contract; ie, where it’s for a club track you’ve composed, mixed and mastered yourself, and you are the actual performing artist? Your experiences are greatly appreciated.


Get it checked over, any reputable label would have no problems with that.

I wouldn’t risk endagering the good-will of the label, spend the $ or the go through the hassle of engaging a solicitor at all, at least not unless you cared whether you are signing ownership and performing rights to someone else!

The other part of this is … are you legally free to sign with someone else having already signed on with the first guy?

Never sign anything you do not understand… period.

Last lot I had that were signing a publishing contract with a big company, the company insisted the contract was checked over by an independent (music) lawyer.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear…

The first label I only signed 4 tunes to them. This is the weird thing about dance/rave/EDM labels - the contracts are usually for a set number of tunes which already exist (ie, produced by the producer), and rarely do you get exclusivity contracts with advances etc. This particular contract is for one song only. So legally speaking i am free to sign with them.

Split: the problem is, most of the labels in the DnB scene are run by chavs, road men, Gs, shottas, Social work grant competition winners, typical phoneshop scum, the antithesis of businessmen. My worry is that I’ll be labelled a ‘complainer’ - what is your experience of this particular scene? Are my worries unfounded and incorrect?


NEVER NEVER NEVER sign a contract without getting it properly checked by a specialist music bizz/entertainment lawyer… the average solicitor isn’t really a good idea either…

And to reiterate Split… a reputable, straight up company will actively encourage you to get it checked out first!
I’m highly fortunate to know a quite successful, now semi retired music bizz lawyer (thoroughly decent bloke actually) who checks those kinds of things for myself in detail .

The industry is littered with artists, many of which have been massively successful, that got themselves ripped off because they didn’t get a decent contract early in their careers and end up pretty much destitute… Blondie are probably the best example that springs to mind.

You do not “need” these people in your life, you will see no money anyway…

Another lot I was working with signed what they thought was a one album record deal with a small Italian label, thought they knew what they were signing and disregarded my advice about getting the paperwork checked over. Turned out the label also owned the next album they produced and got sweet FA for it.

“the artist is equally liable for associated costs in recording, mastering, production, marketing, sale, release or any other costs incurred”

“The company is entitled in it’s sole discretion to sell or licence the track to any third party companies (ie, record, film, gaming, media companies)”

“All proceeds of a sale or licensing shall be applied first in discharging any costs occurred (should read incurred) by the company”

I don’t think I will be signing with these guys, lol. They seem like sharks. What do you guys think?

I think that anyone who would ever make you feel uncomfortable about having any contract reviewed by legal counsel probably has a hidden reason they don’t want it reviewed… Being that It is not good for you at all!

Taking all the risk, incurring all the cost only to have someone take the proceeds and leave you stuck with the bills happens all the time. Be careful, always protect yourself.
Keep in mind the old saying “a fool and his money are soon parted”

If counsels advise changes or advise against signing, then you can make alternate proposals or not sign at all.
No need for big drama. If you decline you can do so gracefully and inform them that this particular deal is not for you at this time and should they have any deals to propose in the future you would be willing to explore those further.

I replied with amendments/changes to the contract and the guys response was “Quite frankly, your tune isn’t that good, and youre a nightmare, so no.” - wow. just wow. It took every ounce of my being not to bite his head off. Instead I asked that he remain professional about it. Man, I really hope this isn’t the industry standard in the DnB scene. Does anyone else have any experience of signing contracts with big labels in the DnB scene?

DnB or no DnB doesn’t matter what style your music is, you really don’t need twats like that…

The reason why I ask if anyone else has experiences like this but with big labels in the DnB scene is because if this rot is cultural and unique to the scene, and goes right to the top, then I may have to reconsider my career choices. I can predict Split might tell me I shouldn’t be in it for the career :wink: hehe

its’ not just the DnB/EDM scenes… there are a whole bunch of sharks out there… got offered a deal on one of my tracks a little while back, all i had to do was hand my multitrack files over and pay the guy for a video! lol… i did enjoy winding that one up a bit :slight_smile:

It all boils down to this though… get it checked by a music bizz lawyer, let them know you’re getting it checked out (any decent label will suggest you do anyway) and gauge their reaction…if it doesn’t all add up then walk away…
It’s really easy to let your emotions rule your head too, i had to knock a project on the head a couple of years back because one of the members kept doing just that, unfortunately they were, and probably still are a con artists’ dream.

Do it because you enjoy it, if you make some money from it, great… but don’t get ripped off :slight_smile:

I am unqualified for legal advice. I would just like to point out that real lawyers (solicitors) know the difference between “its” and “it’s”. On that basis, this doesn’t seem real to me.

You make music for fun right? Keep it that way. You’ll have a much more fulfilling experience

Noooooo I do this for a job as well as fun. Monetising it has fast reduced the quality of the fun I have with it though, lol. Bloody labels.

The one that always comes to my mind is fellow Canadian singer Alannah Myles [Black Velvet, Still Got This Thing For You, Love Is].

Young, inexperienced, overly excited and completely naive, she went ahead and signed.

Black Velvet was a massive hit. The company made some $160 million on her overall - but didn’t give her a dime of it, [other than most likely a small advance].

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they also made her pay for all the recording & studio costs - around $86-89,000, IIRC. They didn’t even cover that or ‘forgive that debt’ for her, even after the $160 million they kept.

She had to pay that out of her own pocket - not from any proceeds from her musical success, which as above, she never got.

She had to work for years to pay that off, and only after 10 long years later - far too long to make any kind of comeback - did she even get to sing those songs again.