Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only, and in no way constitutes personalized legal advice for your situation. Many legitimate and favourable to the artist contracts contains these clauses in various forms. If you are presented with a record deal, please consult an entertainment lawyer who specializes in music to negotiate on your behalf.
Prepare your evil laugh, and let’s begin…
How long would be the term of the initial contract?
The “term” of a record deal refers to the length of time an artist is exclusively signed to that label. These can be measured in calendar years, or in the number of albums released.
A) I’ll sign them to a developmental deal first, and drive them crazy recording demos until I deem them ready for primetime.
B) One album cycle. Like this, I can hold the artist accountable and force them to renegotiate with my legal team every single time (with different beneficial loopholes hidden deep in the contract).
C) 5 albums, however, only the first single would firm (guaranteed). I can drop them after that if unimpressed.
D) 25 albums or death, whichever comes last…
E) Until they’re not cool anymore.
When you hear the words “360 Deal” what pleasant circular objects comes to mind?
Like the 360º of a circular pie, a 360 Deal allows the record label to take a cut of every income source an artist has, as opposed to just recorded music. This can include ticket sales, merch, sponsorships deals, a clothing line, non-musical acting in Hollywood movies, etc…
A) Strings of exquisite pearls.
B) Spotlights, shining down on me.
C) Large dinner plates at a fine restaurant.
D) Luxurious swimming pools at my estate in Beverly Hills.
E) Mountains of golden coins.
What is your best defence against the artist delivering an album that won’t sell (read: requires thinking upon consumption)?
Contrary to the name “record deal,” labels are not required to actually release a finished album to the public unless explicitly stated in the contract.
A) Release it anyway. Watch the look in their eyes as it sinks like a tank. Hold this against them for future deals.
B) Quickly remix the album (on their dime) to fit current trends. Autotune, the “millennial whoop,” and a forced in guest verse from an emerging SoundCloud rapper should do the trick!
C) Put no effort or money into the promotion of this weird, artsy, deep album. Stick it up on the streaming platforms, like any DIY artist could do from their basement. You’re releasing this monstrosity, what do they get to complain about?
D) Warn the artist they’ll be shoved back into the studio (with no further advance) to keep trying until they present something with four chords and 130 bpm across all songs.
E) Threaten to release the album on Christmas Day, when the whole industry is in a month-long shut down and fans are busy with their personal lives.
What is your cross-collateralization fantasy?
Cross-Collateralization is the practice of linking a current artist’s advance to future advances. For example, if they sign a two album deal, they need to pay back both album’s advances to the label before making any money for themselves. It is also possible to cross several different deals with each other, which is considered a bad position for the artist.
A) Cross their recording income with their publishing, and give them a big advance for each.
B) Surprise them with a list of expenses that also qualify as recoupable monies, preferably on their birthday.
C) Conveniently “forget” to inform them that their advance is taxable income…
D) Cross-Collateralize this record deal with all future ones for the rest of their lives. Until they make all that money you invested in them back, they will never see a dime.
E) Sign them for five albums. Link all their advances. They’ll never get out of this hole.
And finally… How many Christmas albums will the artist be contractually obligated to record?
Christmas albums are generally seen as cheesy cash-grabs, even by super fans. I wrote an article and hosted a radio presentation on the American Holiday music industry last December.
A) One at the start of their career. However, it’s going to be painfully aimed at Generation Z in 2018, making references to memes, using slang and giving shoutouts to Tide Pods… We’ll make sure to promote this heavily every year until the artist’s great-grandchildren are born.
B) One… Annually. And a new recording of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” must be the first track each time.
C) One per term. However, they must write all new Christmas songs, and a cheap stock Jingle Bell loop will be liberally layered across the entire final master, even if on the wistful winter ballad.
E) One Christmas album every 15 years. We’ve got them locked into this contract for all eternity anyway…
D) One per every two of their mainstream albums that get released.