6 Types Of Record Label Contracts

6 Types Of Record Label Contracts

The legal aspects of this industry aren’t always so straightforward. That’s why we place the utmost importance on providing as much information as we can to help you navigate through it with ease. There are many different types of contracts artists and labels will encounter throughout their careers, so let’s break it down a bit. In this post, you’ll learn about 6 major types of record label contracts you should definitely know about. Let’s dive in…

6 Types Of Record Label Contracts

Exclusive Recording Contract

The exclusivity of this contract applies to both the Artist (as a recording and performing musician) and to the songs written by the Artist during the term of the agreement. An additional number of songs written prior to the term are also assigned in the agreement. The exclusivity in respect to the Artist applies for the length of the agreement and in respect to the songs for the life of copyright (unless otherwise agreed).

  • This one is a useful agreement for a label looking to engage an artist exclusively for a number of years, both as a performer and in relation to his/her songs.

Music Distribution Contract

With this agreement, the owner of master recordings grants an exclusive right to distribute ‘records’ embodied in any format (compact discs, phonograph records, audio cassette tapes, digital audio tapes, DVD, etc) for a certain period of time (the Term) and in certain countries (The Territory).

Non-Exclusive Recording Contract

A Non-Exclusive Recording Contract is an agreement under which copyright on certain recordings is assigned (from Artist to Label), but the Artist is not engaged exclusively by the Label as a recording and performing musician.

Therefore, the Artist is able to free to assign copyrights not covered in this agreement to other labels.

  • This type of contract is a flexible contract for a label looking to license particular recordings but do not wish to tie up an artist exclusively for a number of years or for a number of releases.
  • It can be used as a trial agreement before moving on to an exclusive recording type of arrangement.

360 Deal Recording Contract

A 360 Deal Recording Contract is an agreement which sets out the conditions in which a music company engages an artist with respect to his/her/their services as a recording artist, songwriter, composer/arranger of music and actor/actress (for film, TV and Theatre).

It also grants the music company merchandise, sponsorship and endorsements rights for the use of the artist’s names, likenesses, and related Intellectual Property. In addition, it’s important to note that 360-type deals have come around as the recording labels response to three major trends in the music industry in recent years:

  1. The steady decline of revenue from record sales
  2. The increase in prices of tickets to live events and fan expenditure on merchandise and
  3. The strengthening of the capabilities of the collecting societies and publishers getting better at their roles which translates in income from public performance and synchronisation becoming more and more significant.

Music Composition and Recording Service Contract

A Music Composition and Recording Service Contract is an agreement under which an artist is engaged by a company to compose, arrange, record and produce a piece of music to be used in the company’s own production (TV, Film, Video Game, etc).

With this, the artist receives a full and final fee as remuneration for the services provided and all copyrights are transferred to the company and moral rights waived. However, the artist remains entitled to his/her writer’s share of public performance royalties received directly from his/her performance right society (PRS, BMI, ASCAP, GEMMA, etc).

  • Company gets granted a license to use the artist’s name, likeness, voice and biographical data in relation to the company’s production and artist promises that the music delivered to the company does not infringe any third parties’ copyright.
  • This contract is useful for companies looking to commission both recordings and compositions from an artist for use in TV, films, etc.

Recording and Publishing Agreement On Certain Recordings

A Recording and Publishing Agreement On Certain Recordings is a type of agreement under which an Artist assigns both recording and publishing rights to a label in exchange for an advance, royalties and a commitment from the label to fund and release the recordings and procure synchronization and/or performance license for the compositions.

  • Recording rights are assigned for the length of copyright (50 years after release) and Publishing rights for a rights period of fifteen (15) years.
  • The label will have six (6) months from delivery of the songs to procure a release of the recordings and performance and/or synchronization usages for the Compositions.
  • This type of agreement is especially useful for labels looking to acquire both recording and publishing rights from artist for particular songs using one agreement.