**Please note the content of this article is not intended to replace legal counsel or advice, we advise you contact a legal representative before signing any contract**
Signing a contract with your producer is an important part of recording. Contracts with music producers protect everyone involved in the recording process by expressly delineating expectations. Oftentimes, new musicians who are about to make it to the mainstream are tempted to sign a production contract which details they don’t really understand, just because a well-known producer is up at stakes. That is a bad move. Production contracts are well-known for being one of those things that come up and take their toll on you when your career begins to shoot up. Make sure you understand a contract before you sign it with a producer. This simple guide will help both musicians and producers work out the best deal for themselves and for each other.
Learn the Lingo
You need to know the definition of some things to fully understand what a contract states. Check out these glossary definitions before going any further.
Know the Job Description
Producers range from being the hands-on type to the carefree one. You must know the kind of producer you want, or else you may end up with the wrong one. The production contract should clearly state the expectations on the producer. Will they be involved in the arrangement of songs and creating beats? Or, do you want him to stay out of the creative stuff but make sure that everything technical is in the right place? The nature of your relationship should be decided first, and it should be clearly specified in the contract.
Pick Your Points – Part One
A producer will surely ask about the points he will get, for these things are his bread and butter. Each point is a percentage of income from the sales of record that a producer will receive. The number of points a producer ought to get is proportionate with his experience and track record. Really famous producers get five points or more on an album while a new, upcoming producer may work for no points at all.
When it comes to points, you have to decide how many of them the producer will get. You also need to decide if there will be royalties, and whether or not you will give more points if the album surpasses predetermined sales goals.
Pick Your Points – Part Two
After you have fixed the number of points that you will award to your producer, you must also determine the mode of payment. You need to decide if the points shall be paid on retail price or dealer price, and whether or not the producer will be subject to the same manufacturing “charge” imposed by the label that you also pay as an artist.
Your contract must also reflect whether your producer will be paid in advance for his work. Such arrangement is common. However, if it is an up and coming producer you are working with, you may be able to come up with a deal where there is no advance payment.
Some production contracts include a clause that gives a producer first refusal on remixes of a project. This right of first refusal means that if you are unhappy with the way the track turned out and you want another mixer to fix it, you must first allow the producer to make some changes. This clause is not good for a musician. Try doing away with it.
Who is Paying for All This Anyway?
By the terms of the contract it must be obvious who is the one paying for everything. Whether it is you or the record label who will be shelling out cash must be clearly stated. Sometimes a third party will be the one paying the bill, and in such case a producer will ask for some written clarification of who will be responsible for settling up if the project costs go up beyond the budget. An all-in deal means that it could be you, the musician. The ideal arrangement will be for you to settle the expenses for budget overages that you cause and for the producer to pay for the overages that he causes.
You Don’t Own Me
A few misplaced, uneventful words may make your producer a co-owner of the finished product. To avoid this, include a clause that will expressly state that it is you who will own track/s.
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