Music Contracts

Music contracts, sometimes called agreements, play a pivotal role in defining the terms of engagement with collaborators, record labels, publishers, and other industry stakeholders. Clear and comprehensive contracts help clarify rights, responsibilities, royalties, and dispute resolution mechanisms, reducing the risk of misunderstandings or disputes down the line. Understanding contracts empowers women musicians to navigate professional relationships with confidence, assert their rights, and negotiate fair terms in an often male-dominated field. With equitable knowledge of contract essentials, you can protect yourself from exploitation, ensure fair compensation, and advocate for their creative autonomy.

Below we have resources to help you understand the basics of music industry contracts.

We have an example of a freelance consultant agreement template. You can download this contract to see an example of a contract which contains all of the basic principles you would anticipate in a fair agreement.

Here are different types of music agreements and contracts you may come across in your career:

Single Song Assignment

Transfers the rights of a single song to a publisher or another entity. An assignment is a sale.

Exclusive Song Agreement

An artist agrees to write songs exclusively for one publisher for a specified period.

Co-publishing Agreement

Both the songwriter & the publisher share the publishing rights and income, usually 50/50.

Administration Agreement

The writer/artist retains ownership, but the publisher/label administers the rights & collects royalties.

Recording Contract

An artist agrees to record a specified number of releases (singles or albums) for a record label.

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Record Deal

A label deal in exchange for a percentage of the artist’s various revenue streams, incl music sales, live & merch.

Management Agreement

An artist hires a manager to oversee their career in exchange for a percentage of their income.

Producer Agreement

Agreement on fees between an artist & a producer tend to be for ‘points’ i.e. a percentage of the artist fee.

Performance Agreement

Outlines the terms, practical details, fees & obligations for an artist’s live performance with a venue or promoter.

Synchronisation License

Allows the use of music in visual media such as films, TV shows, & adverts, requires recording & music rights.

Here we outline 9 core principles of music contracts. These principles provide a framework for drafting comprehensive and enforceable contracts in the music industry, ensuring clarity, fairness, and protection for all parties involved. It’s essential for musicians and industry professionals to understand these basic principles and seek legal advice when negotiating or entering into contracts to safeguard their rights and interests.