Last week, we took a general, possibly oversimplified look at recording contracts as they relate to bluegrass artists today.
This week, I thought we’d take a look at two hypothetical contracts, one drafted exactly how some record labels wish contracts would read, and then how a typical recording artist wishes they were.
The label’s ideal contract:
Hog’s Breath Records, hereafter referred to as “Company” hereby contracts for the exclusive services of Tortured River, hereafter referred to as “Artist” in connection with the production and delivery of audio and video recordings upon the terms and conditions herein contained, and the Artist accepts such engagement and contract.
During a term of not fewer that 855 months, Artist will provide to The Company no fewer than one master recording every two months, with recording budget, songs, and producer to be agreed upon by Company. Company reserves right to reject any material deemed offensive, lacking in commercial potential, or just stupid.
All recordings will take place in Company studio, hereafter referred to as “Label president’s basement,” with recording budget not to exceed $750, including all mixing, mastering, and album artwork. Any costs incurred above budget will be payable by artists in cold cash.
Company will pay royalties on sales of master recordings at the rate of .0095%, after Company recoups all recording and manufacturing costs, plus all promotional costs, not to exceed $750,000. Company will pay digital and streaming royalties at the rate of 7% once artist’s amount passes a threshold of $65,000.
Royalties will be payable in the form of Company scrip, redeemable for Company merchandise, including T-shirts, CDs by other artists, or to be applied to future recording costs.
Any songs recorded by Artist during term will remain the sole property of Company, and may not be recorded again for any other company for a period of 90 years.
Company will make CDs available to the Artist to sell at the discount price of $14.99 per unit.
Company may terminate this agreement on a whim. Artist may never terminate this agreement, or Artist will be hunted down and beaten senseless.
The artist’s ideal contract:
Hog’s Breath Records, hereafter referred to as “Company” hereby contracts for the exclusive (yet flexible) services of Tortured River, hereafter referred to as “Artist” in connection with the production and delivery of audio and video recordings upon the terms and conditions herein contained, and the Artist accepts such engagement and contract.
During a term of between one day and a year or so, Artist agrees to provide Company with at most one master recording, provided artist feels sufficiently inspired to do so.
Company will provide a budget of not less than $350,000 per master recording. Company may apply any amounts not spent in studio costs to promotion of releases or just to gifts for Artist. None of these costs will ever be Artist’s responsibility.
During recording process, Company will provide Artist with meals and snacks, catering to the dietary whims and quirks of Artist and band members.
Artist retains 100% creative control of entire recording process and may feel free to weigh in on any and all promotional decisions, from album cover, to video locations, to Company office decor.
Company will pay royalties to Artist on all gross sales and digital downloads at the rate of 90% beginning with the first sale and continuing forever. 100% of streaming revenue will be paid to Artist.
Artist may record with any other Company at any time if it seems like a better deal, however, Company requests that Artist not re-record songs already released by Company for a period of at least seven days.
Company will furnish to artist 1,000 promotional copies of CD to distribute to media outlets, or just to give to friends or sell for some extra cash.
Company will make CDs available to the Artist to sell at a discount price of $1.00 per unit, with free shipping.
After written request, Artist may withdraw from this agreement at any time, but who would want to?