Record Label offer? Know this before signing a deal!

What is A Record Label

Are you interested in using your love for good music to make a fortune while working with a record label? This is the right blog post you need to help you take your vision to the next level without getting into any problems with your record label. 

Who is a recording artist and performer?

Recording artists are professional musicians who make a living by recording music, most of which is that of others but can also be their own, selling it, and performing at live events. This can be an individual, a band or group of friends, or a large orchestra.

In the past, it was pretty difficult to venture into the business of song recording because of the limitations of technology. New technology like multitrack recordings and stereophonic recordings makes it easier for record labels to sign more deals with people to produce their recordings. With the very vast softwares available for recording, even a teenager can start a career in music and begin to rake in several thousand dollars after a while. 

Recording Artist in a Record Label

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There are two ways to take your song recording and performance to a professional level: either sign with a record label or work as an independent artist. Each has its own pros and cons. 

What is a Record Label

A record label is a company that manages brands and trademarks and coordinates the production, distribution, marketing, promotion, and intellectual property rights compliance for musical recordings and music videos. Record labels also recruit and grow new musicians and maintain agreements with recording artists and respective managers.

Signing with a record label can be a huge step forward for any recording artist or anyone looking to make a career out of music. In fact, artists flaunt their record deals and celebrate when they get a deal with a record label. 

While some artists will never get a record deal with a record label and hit it big, Getting a deal with a record label can make a difference in an artist’s music career. In most cases, artists think that landing a record deal is the key to success, and while it can be a major part of one, it is not the only step to a successful career, and the journey could get demanding after some time. 

There are two major types of record labels:

  • Major labels: The music business is dominated by three well-known record labels known as ‘The Big 3’: Sony, Universal, and Warner. These labels are usually associated with well-known musicians. 

Major labels are well-funded and have a wide range of divisions that cover every aspect of music production. Furthermore, they manage a number of smaller independent labels that specialise in specific genres and specialisations.

  • Independent labels (indie labels): Independent (indie) record labels and music publishers are those that are not under the ownership or control of the big three. The term “indie label” may refer to those who fit specified criteria for organisation and scale, or it may refer to any non-mainstream music releaser, regardless of structure.

Indie labels are frequently more artist-friendly. Despite lower sales, they frequently give higher artist royalties, which is usual in 50/50 arrangements. These labels are usually artist-owned, with the goal of controlling output quality. 

Despite the fact that independent labels lack the “big three” resources and market shares, indie artists might earn more because of cheaper production costs. Smaller revenues might sometimes help them repay their original investments.

What is a Recording Contracts 

A recording contract is a legally binding agreement that dictates the terms of the professional engagement between a recording artist and a record label. Usually, the label has a contractual responsibility to support and collaborate with the artist, and the artist accepts the label’s offer to record music.

The specifics and commitments in a recording contract are not really standardised. To interpret the contract, the artist must be prepared to speak with a legal expert who is very familiar with music and copyright laws

The artist will agree to produce songs for the record label for the number of years stated in the contract. This contract can be extended based on mutual agreement between the artist and the label. However, the label is most likely to terminate the contract if the artist is not profitable for the label. 

Signing a Record Label Deal

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According to the IFPI standard, the typical investment a major record label makes in new artists is between $500,000 and $2,000,000. This money covers many things, most of which is spent on advance, production (sound and video), promotion, and tours. This investment is usually pivotal to the huge success of many artists signed by major labels, as it provides sufficient budget to take an artist from obscurity to fame. 

In a case where the recording artist has a track record of success as an independent artist, the artist will have more bargaining rights than an artist with no track record. In fact, during negotiation, you must present your best foot before the record label and prove that you have what it takes to be a successful artist. 

Termination of contract

Typically, contracts include provisions for cancellation, with artists agreeing to pay back any advances in order to exit the contract. The label maintains ownership of the music recordings and could also force the artist to give over every track they produce until the advance fund is repaid.

Related Blogpost: 5 Reasons to Start Your Career as an Independent Artist

Pros and Cons of signing a record deal

Pros.

  • Exposure: Signing with a major label makes it simple to get more exposure because they have a good reputation, a bigger budget, and a global presence. 
  • Paid for and prepaid: After signing with a record label, an artist has access to financial support for studio time, production, marketing, promotion, tours, and other expenses, making it easier for them to complete the process without worrying about money.

Cons. 

  • Reduced creative freedom: Most record labels are all about the business, which results in a situation where the creativity of the artist is highly prioritised. Record firms, especially large labels, focus on nurturing musicians into “sellable” products. Artists interested in financial gain may find this deal beneficial.
  • Profit is distributed on a percentage basis: labels typically give artists 20% of their earnings from large record deals, with the remaining 80% going to the label. However, these arrangements frequently include the previously stated advance payments as well as a lot of exposure, so it’s not all terrible and may change with a subsequent review of the contract. 

Earning money as a signed recording artist

If an artist lands a record deal, he or she must be intimately acquainted with a few things. This is because a record deal might not be the end of an artist’s personal financial problems; it can even be the reason why the artist goes broke later in life. Just like in any other field, a sound knowledge of how the business of that realm works will be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful artist.

How royalties work for record labels 

In general, the earnings of a recording artist under a record label come from the label. The record label releases the track or album through distributors. The earnings from the product are paid to the distributor, which then pays the label. The label pays the artist in the form of royalties. 

An artist also gets a performance royalty every time his or her recording is played on the radio or performed by others at a live event, even if it’s the artist’s own event, as long as the set list is submitted to the performing rights organisation.  

However, this is dependent on the kind of contract the artist has with the record label. This type of contract will determine whether a portion of the performance royalty will go to the record label or not. 

Record Label Advances 

On signing a record deal, a record label usually pays the artist a sum of money to help the artist-run their day-to-day activities during the whole production process, just before the royalties begin to flow in. This is called an advance. This is to help the artist focus on creating the best that they can because they have undisturbed time to explore their creativity. An advance is not usually considered a loan; however, this money is usually recouped immediately when the record label begins to make money from the releases. In the case where the record deal yields no profit, the record label is not obligated to demand any repayment from the artist. A typical advance amount will usually range from anything between $50,000 and $350,000, depending on the size of the record label and the track record of the artist. 

How much, on average, can a record label artist make?

Royalties from music streams can be so small for every individual stream that you almost think no artist can make a fortune from royalties. However, when you consider that over one million times in a year someone streams a song released in the United States, you will realise that streaming royalties can amount to a fortune for the several parties involved in the whole production of the sound and video. Billboard estimates that in the year 2021, Dua Lipa raked in a whopping sum of over four million dollars on a single track, which happened to be the most streamed song in 2021. Being a record label signee has many advantages. The most important thing, however, is to make sure that you read the contract’s terms and that you consult with a professional in the area of legal issues to help you fully investigate all of the terms of the contract before signing any agreement. 

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1 Comment

  1. TomidBrand

    This is a very insightful post!

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