Obtaining a Record Deal

For any musician creating music, the real deal is to obtain a recording contract.  A recording deal is a legally enforceable agreement between a record label and a recording artist(s), by which the artist(s) makes one or a series of records for the label to sell and promote.  Under such a contract, the artist(s) is obliged to create records solely for that label.

Primarily, a musician has to know the major labels in the market, how to contact the right people, and strategies for beating the competition.  Once a recording deal is obtained, the record labels will finance  the marketing and promotion of the record.  They will have the necessary national music distribution channels that the musician will need.  The record labels may also offer some tour support.

Experts say that the music industry is like every other business.  It thrives on selling products to a marketplace.   It is crucial that an artist exists within one of these markets.    A good and highly professional demonstration package can enhance an artist’s value in the market.  The best tracks should be recorded first in a demonstration CD.  Sending that demonstration to the right person is the next step.  A musician will need to follow up with the labels after submitting their demonstration package.  Before sending the demonstration to the labels, research about the labels and make sure that they are interested in receiving the type of music that an artist creates. 

Once a record deal is obtained, the label would own the copyright in the record, and also the master copies of those records.  This may vary if a well defined distribution deal is made between the label and the artist, or the owner of copyright.  Initial recording deals could yield only a relatively small percentage of royalties to artists while subsequent deals can result in much greater profit.  Recording contracts may include opt-out clauses so that if an artist’s popularity goes down, the contract may be cancelled.  However, any advance paid to a recording artist is owed back to the label, whether the recordings to follow sell well or not, unless otherwise provided in the contract.

Earlier, in the music business the ultimate goal for musicians, artists, or unsigned bands was to obtain a record deal or recording contract.  Though this obsession of getting a record deal may not be as prevalent as it was many years ago, with the state of the music industry and record labels today, it is even harder to obtain a decent record deal.


Inside Obtaining a Record Deal