Rox: Things to consider before signing a recording contractWritten by Martini Rox | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you noticed how some local artists claim to be signed by some unknown — and at times known — label, but miraculously nothing ever comes of it? Perhaps it was a misconception the artist had after a positive meeting with a label considering him or her or the artist just wanted attention on social media. After all the work an artist does to get a record label interested, it is the basics that could prevent the actual deal from happening. Whatever the reason, it is important to understand how to prepare yourself as it pertains to your career and avoid pitfalls that may seem minor, but if ignored have major consequences.
- Do not quit your day job! You may be “MC” or “Yung” fill-in-the-blank by night, but by day your government name will have to do. Funding your image is a lot of work, takes money and should never interfere with your day-to-day responsibilities. I remember being asked for the phone number of a popular local artist by several major label representatives and I was later told his number was disconnected. Something as simple as not having a job to pay the phone bill hindered his success. I cannot stress enough the importance of being consistent in handling your everyday life. Things happen, but a record label is like a bank loaning you the life of your dreams, and if a bank believes you are unreliable, inconsistent or without income, it will not approve your loan.
- Who are they? Consider the reputation of the record label interested in your music and its history with artists in your genre. Unfortunately, signing to labels in your neighborhood may not pan out the way you want because their business reach is limited. If you are looking for a deal, there are independent labels that are totally legit, but they usually consist of one or more individuals who have played a part in the professional realm of the music industry. The late ’90s brought us the success of Cash Money and No Limit, but the rumored practices that funded the businesses were risky for not only the labels, but artists signed to them as well. Do your homework and check out every label that you approach and that approaches you. Find out how other artists have fared on their label in your genre and read the fine print.
- Before you sign, get an entertainment lawyer. This is another instance where earning a paycheck comes in handy for this basic part of pre-signing preparation. Never sign anything without having a lawyer well-versed in entertainment law look it over and point out potential problems or loopholes. Many music industry hopefuls have signed bum deals without proper representation. These artists are left with a deal that takes a piece of everything or locks them into several albums for the same amount of money regardless of their success. Some of the best artists in history have had to wait out a deal in protest only to find that in that time, they have become irrelevant. The public is fickle and if music isn’t produced by a band, group or solo act in a timely manner, the frenzy fizzles. Handle your business!
- Concentrate on your current fans. The word fans is short for fanatics and they should be the people you work hard to make happy. All the talk about social media and its importance in terms of acquiring fans and a record deal has artists going to great lengths to fool labels. Buying Twitter followers is a common practice and can be detected. Do not fall for it! Once you are detected, you will be rejected. Labels are more concerned with your website traffic and how often your fans check in to download your music, socialize with each other, or find out where you are playing next. If the fans you have are excited about your music and your performances, then the word of mouth begins to spread. Your fans will do the work for you!
As we continue on …
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