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Recording Artists Should Be Careful When Signing Record Deals

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC|January 27, 2014

For many recording artists, the ultimate goal is signing a record deal with one of the major record labels.

Recording Artists Should Be Careful When Signing Record Deals

For many recording artists, the ultimate goal is signing a record deal with one of the major record labels.

However, it is important that these musicians seek the assistance of an entertainment attorney to ensure there are no clauses that could hurt their careers.

Singer-songwriter, JoJo, recently endured a battle with her label that prevented her from releasing her third studio album. Her debut was released in 2004, and her sophomore record hit stores in 2006, but she hasn’t been able to put out an album since.

To avoid a similar situation, recording artists should understand all the language that comes with major label deals. For one, most record contracts come with exclusivity, which means that an artist signs on to only make music for the label unless granted permission to do otherwise.

Another major aspect of a record deal is the term. This is represents the duration of the contract. For example, a record label may give an artist a three album deal that comes with 12 months to record each album.

The Issue

The part of the contract that led to JoJo’s troubles is the release commitment. When signing a deal, labels generally provide an artist with a commitment to release a certain number of albums. If a recording artist signs a deal that requires them to release four albums before being released from their contract, then that is what has to be done. JoJo probably could have benefited from more specific language in this part of her contract that put a timeline of when her albums would be released.

JoJo is now out of her contract with the label, and so it will be interesting to see how this ordeal will impact future negotiations.

Recording Artists Should Be Careful When Signing Record Deals

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

However, it is important that these musicians seek the assistance of an entertainment attorney to ensure there are no clauses that could hurt their careers.

Singer-songwriter, JoJo, recently endured a battle with her label that prevented her from releasing her third studio album. Her debut was released in 2004, and her sophomore record hit stores in 2006, but she hasn’t been able to put out an album since.

To avoid a similar situation, recording artists should understand all the language that comes with major label deals. For one, most record contracts come with exclusivity, which means that an artist signs on to only make music for the label unless granted permission to do otherwise.

Another major aspect of a record deal is the term. This is represents the duration of the contract. For example, a record label may give an artist a three album deal that comes with 12 months to record each album.

The Issue

The part of the contract that led to JoJo’s troubles is the release commitment. When signing a deal, labels generally provide an artist with a commitment to release a certain number of albums. If a recording artist signs a deal that requires them to release four albums before being released from their contract, then that is what has to be done. JoJo probably could have benefited from more specific language in this part of her contract that put a timeline of when her albums would be released.

JoJo is now out of her contract with the label, and so it will be interesting to see how this ordeal will impact future negotiations.

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