Some Music Business Red Flags!
I always seem to be dealing with Contracts – and there’s so many types and variations of contracts that exist in the Music Industry… There are good one, bad ones, harmful ones and useless ones. Luckily, to me, contracts are fun, because contracts and negotiations can be creatively solved, where you can make both sides happy with maybe some fair compromising.
However, too many people take one look at these often weirdly worded pieces of paper, and either run away, or just sign them without really reading them. One of the scariest things to me regarding contracts is when I find people searching on the Internet, or asking me or others for some free sample contracts they can use.
Look, Contracts must be personalized to the people involved and the exact situation! And always remember, it’s not always just what’s IN a contract that can hurt you, it’s very often, what’s been left OUT of a contract, that if inserted correctly, can save your career.
But here’s a few sure-fire “red flags” in contract situations that should really alarm you:
1. Something in the contract seems mean more than one thing in your mind, or you have no idea what it means. If it can mean more than one thing it is a problem. It should be very clear and specific. Of course, if you don’t know the business really well, you might not even know that it can mean more than one thing.
Fact: In the last five years or so, I have run into this situation at least 3 times, where an Artist or band thought a contract was over – but it hadn’t even Legally begun yet! All because of one word: “Delivery” – which to most people would normally mean handing something over. And it stated that these contracts actually started on the date that the Artist Delivered the recording to the Record Company.
But in the Music Business, if you look further on in the contract, Delivery is defined as, not only handed in, but accepted or acceptable to the company. And if the Record company didn’t release the product, they can say it wasn’t acceptable to them – and therefore, it wasn’t delivered!
2. “Well, the contract was on one page, what can be the problem?” Simply put – I’ll bet there’s some important stuff left out, that could protect you.
3. A person gives you a contract and says you must sign it right then or “the offer is off the table.” What should you do? RUN! In this kind of situation, you can be sure that there is not only something wrong with the contract, but, even more importantly, something very wrong with the person who offered it to you!
4. You find that what’s in the contract isn’t what the person said would be in it.
5. There’s no “escape clause” in a long term deal. As I stated in yesterday’s Blog, It would allow you to get out of a contract early, if certain goals aren’t reached along the way.
6. There’s no clear “end” to the contract. Contracts with continuous renewals
The simple matter is: If you want to move ahead in your career you will often run into contract situations. Now, don’t be afraid of them – they can be good for you! Yes, be cautious – but no, don’t be paranoid…
Remember, read a contract real slowly… And, if you find some “Red Flags”, see someone who can really help you check it out. At least make an informed decision regarding whether it’s worth pursuing the contract or not… All contracts are negotiable…
If you ever have any questions on Contracts, you can always reach me at email@example.com