Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Music Contract Lies, 101

Brace yourself, because the music industry is full of lies. But what industry doesn't have its share of truths, lies and exaggerations? I am sure there isn't one without issues. But you are in the music industry so you need to be aware of some of the issues that pertain to you, especially when dealing with music contracts and recording contracts. Being naive is something that can hurt you the most. That is why I am here to reveal some of the biggest lies to look for and how you can prepare yourself. The music industry can be tough but you will do fine as long has you know what you are getting into.

One of the first lies that you need to avoid is, "I can't throw "that" in the contract right now, but you have my word on it." If you hear this, red flags should go up. Most of the time little idiosyncrasies can be worked out later but you have to be on guard. A man's handshake is not what it used to be. If you feel the detail is crucial then demand it be in writing in your music business contracts or else you may find yourself in an unwanted situation.

The next big lie when it comes to music contracts is, "You don't need to show this to your lawyer." Hmm...It makes you think, right? Well, at least it should! There should be nothing in writing that you shouldn't show to your lawyer when someone says that. That should throw up another red flag because why can't you show it to your lawyer? Don't believe it!

Another big lie you need to watch out for may come up in simple conversation about your recording contracts. This one is..."Of course, everyone has agreed to this..." or "That's standard, it is in every contract." They may be telling the truth but then again, they may not be. If you feel uneasy about what it is you are about to sign, then seek help from a trusted friend, manager, lawyer, colleague, whoever. Don't be afraid to take time to read over ANY contract.

The bottom line is that if you feel that a situation is uncomfortable or unfair for any reason, then always trust your instincts. Don't assume that because you have become friends with a person that their word is enough. Business is business when it comes down to music contracts. Never mix friendship and business because they don't mesh. If you keep everything in writing then no one gets hurt and everyone stays aware and happy.

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Ty Cohen, owner of Platinum Millennium publishing, former record label owner & national music industry seminar speaker/panelist.