Five Steps to Protecting Your Music and Your Money
There are a whole lot of independent labels out there waiting to use a talented musician to make quick cash. The offers may seem hard to refuse, especially if you're a struggling artist or band that has struggled to find a record deal. A little money and exposure may seem great for now, but you run a high risk of getting contractually bound to that record label for the rest of your life. If a better deal comes along later, you might be unable to accept it, or you can get robbed of your rightful percentages.
Copyright your music
This is one of the most important things you can do to protect your music. Take the time, complete the forms. There have been a number of cases where a person wrote a song and nothing ever came of it. Years after a signed band steals their tune and remakes it. The artist needed it copywritten and sues another record label for thousands if not millions of dollars. Instant riches! Protect your tunes.
Know what you really want from the music
Figure out whether you're trying to sell your songs to record companies, or function as artist and band that performs the songs. There's good money in only writing songs for other groups. Request a percentage if this is your choice, because that will usually make you a lot more money in the future than an up front payment. The only thing you sacrifice by writing rather than performing is the popularity and exposure. Also, find out how much you stand behind your songs. Are you ready to allow the record company to make several modifications to your music and try to mold you to"their sound"? How much do you think in your product?
Get a contract attorney and agent
You will need an agent to represent your group to the record labels. This person doesn't have to be an established broker in the organization. It may be a friend or relative if they could talk assertively and will not make any quick decisions without consulting the ring. The record companies only need to speak to a person, not three, four, or five members of a group. It gets too confusing for them and they do not have enough time. Make sure that they are looking out for your best interests and not theirs.
A contract lawyer is particularly important. Just call around and find a local attorney who specializes in contracts. When it comes time to sign the dotted line, be sure that the attorney is by your side. Do not sign any contracts or documents until you and your attorney have taken time to read them thoroughly and make a determination. If a record company is rushing you to sign any documents, walk away. Patience ought to be permitted to you if they are genuinely interested. If they rush you, they intend to manipulate you.
Promote yourself tirelessly
Artists have been discovered quite a few different ways. Every group has a different story. Utilize every media avenue you can to expose yourself nationwide. Unless you reside in L.A., New York, or Atlanta, local vulnerability is not likely to be sufficient. Think big with your own music!
When offers are made, research them well before committing
Do not take the first offer made for you, only unless it is a significant record label and you researched what they provide very well. Signing bonuses are nice, but long term percentages are important. Every artist gets a different percent with their tag. The longer you've been in the company, the greater your percents will get. Do not get too greedy. Aim high and let them down work. Twenty-five percent on the overall profits on you record is extremely high. Most bands do not get that. Bear in mind, the suits and ties are those who make the big money. Without them, you're simply selling CD's from the back of your back. If you do not write your songs, your percentages won't be close twenty five percent. Singer/songwriters earn more money.
Good luck as you venture to the formidable music market. There are numerous independent labels which are legit, but there are tens of thousands of them that are not. Be careful and try to follow these actions listed above.