How to Know if Signing a Recording Contract Is Right For You

How to Know if Signing a Recording Contract Is Right For You

This information is brought to you by Debbie Egel, an attorney whose practice includes writing and reviewing music contracts, running an independent label for over 10 years; and developing indie artists. She is knowledgeable of the economics of music, the DIY process, and has written an instruction manual for Indie artists, labels and managers called “For The Record” and teaches an on-line course. Debbie has a deep appreciation of the business of music as well as her legal knowledge as a practicing attorney. We are sharing it with you here to give you a sense of some of the decisions and complexities involved in these questions. Streaming Promotions does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult with your personal legal and tax professionals regarding your specific situation before making any decisions.

When it comes to major record deals, there are a lot of things to consider. That’s why it’s important to always get a second, or even third, set of eyes on anything that requires a signature and involves your finances. Here’s what to look for before you dive in…

How to Know if Signing a Recording Contract Is Right For You

You LOVE music, and you have been working hard, creating and recording music. You’re also keeping up a social media presence, getting gigs, taking photos and posting, getting your look right, releasing and marketing music and the list goes on and on. Now you figure it must be working because someone has reached out and is speaking to you about signing a record deal.

While many artists view a record deal as the solution to their problems, look before you leap.

Record labels can be great opportunities to get your music in front of an audience and help you build fans. Labels can provide support in terms of production, marketing, legal knowledge and access to experienced industry vets. It takes a village and no one can do this alone. However, you should be careful, thoughtful, and selective before you sign on the dotted line.

The contract will be defined as binding you for a period of years or a number of singles or albums that have to be delivered to fulfill the agreement. The contract is like signing a marriage license. It is basically a relationship, and it is important to date before you get married. So how do you know if a record deal is the right move for you? First and foremost…

Do Your Homework

Artists should be paying attention to these items:

  • What is the label’s track record with your genre?
  • Do they have a website?
  • Do they have artists that have been signed fared well?
  • Is there already an act signed that sounds similar to you?
  • What can this label do for you that you can’t currently do on your own?
  • Have they listened to your music? What do they have to say about it?
  • Have you spoken to them and what is their plan for you moving forward?
  • What type of assets can they provide such as production, marketing, finances etc.?
  • How long does the contract bind you?
  • Has the company asked you about split sheets, production agreements for your current music.
  • Philosophically, do both parties to the agreement have the same vision for the music?

If the relationship is a failure, it can often mean the ruin of an artistic career. So be careful!

What do labels look for?

Truth be told, artists working independently can only get so far before needing a bigger team. Labels can be that team, helping you increase your reach and overall success. However, this costs money.

Like any successful business, if you need a large injection of money in order to get to the next level, you must be able to recover that investment. With record sales declining and streaming income at an all time low, record companies need better ways to secure their investment. For example, like a 360° contract, which is used to potentially make a profit from their investment.

How have you built your fanbase? Are they buying your projects? Look at it like this: if you’ve been pumping out nothing but free albums, do you really anticipate them buying your major label debut if you haven’t put any value on your music beforehand?

What else do they consider?

Labels also typically consider physical attendance at your shows and whether you can sell units or derive money from streaming. They also look at your other income streams, like merch and touring.

Remember, both sides have to benefit or else the relationship is not going to be successful.

What you should know at the table…

Contract terms depend on the bargaining power of the artist. A new artist with no real history of earnings will not get the same terms as an artist with a proven record of strong earnings.

These terms can include:

  • Royalty rates
  • The number of songs to be delivered
  • What costs the record company will pay for
  • The amount of money the record company will spend on social media campaigns
  • What type of music production support they can provide
  • Whether the record company will also participate in the money earned from music publishing, merchandising and live performances.

If you have confidently answered these questions and are willing to give up a percentage of your earnings, it’s time to contact an attorney to review the deal.

From a legal standpoint, a contract that is well written and contains clear and unambiguous deal terms is off to a good start. Just make sure to use an entertainment attorney that understands these terms and can fight for you during contract negotiations.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Think twice about using an attorney the label directs you to!

In Conclusion…

It is important to point out again that team work makes the dream work. The progression in an artist’s professional career is to attract a label that provides all the necessary elements to get you to the next level. Having said all this, focus on making the best music you can and building your fan base. It all begins and ends with GREAT music. If you’re making waves, labels will come to you, and that’s a much better position to be in anyway.

How To Make Money On TikTok as an Independent Musician

How To Make Money On TikTok as an Independent Musician

Are you on TikTok and wish you could make some money from your efforts? No problem! There are a couple ways you can make this happen in no time. From their official Creator Fund to independent marketing and more, here’s what you can do…

How To Make Money On TikTok as an Independent Musician

TikTok’s Creator Fund

Many creators complain about how much money, or lack thereof, they’ve made with the TikTok Creator Fund. However, they’re failing to keep in mind that a couple factors influence how much money you can rack in with the Creator Fund. From views to engagement and many other details, adhering to their community guidelines goes a long way.

Typically, users see around 2 to 4 cents per every thousand views. But if you regularly see a million views on your videos, you can expect a pretty penny in your account every year… and as we’ve all seen time and time again, consistency is key. The more you post, the better your videos will continue to perform over time. If you’re creating TikTok videos anyway, why not get paid for it?

To apply for the program, you have to meet a plethora of requirements. Some of which include:

  • You must be 18 years or older.
  • A legal resident of one of the 50 states, District of Columbia, or the territories and possessions, of the United States.
  • Minimum 10K authentic followers.
  • At least 100K authentic video views in the last 30 days.
  • Post original videos in line with their Community Guidelines.

If these all sound like you, you’re ready to go. — Just open your account settings, click on Creator tools, then TikTok Creator Fund.

Then, just wait to be approved by their team and that’s all there is to it.


Making sure you are collecting all the royalties owed to you across all platforms is an essential part of being an artist. On TikTok, it’s no different. However, while most DSPs pay creators based on the number of streams or views, TikTok has a very different model when it comes to royalties. TikTok pays royalties based on the number of videos created using your music (video views do not matter when calculating TikTok royalties).

Live Stream Donations and Gifts

On TikTok Live, your fans can interact with you in real time and gift you virtual gifts or monetary donations. Whether you want to just get on and chat, play a new song, or give a behind the scenes look right before your show, you can go stream for as long as you want (although 30 minutes is the recommended maximum time).

Influencer Marketing

As an artist with a distinct style, you are in a great position for sponsored posts or collaboration opportunities. Consider reaching out to brands who have a similar vibe or mission as you do, and spark up a conversation about how you can mutually benefit one another. This can range from either promoting their product in a video, doing a full review of said product, and more depending on the brand or product in mind.

Alternatively, you can do a version of this with other musicians within your TikTok community. From promoting each others merch to hyping up their upcoming show, this industry thrives of collaboration! And TikTok is no stranger to nurturing community.

Fans = Streams = $

Although many artists go viral on TikTok from sheer luck alone, there are many ways you can improve your chances and work with the algorithm to reach thousands of potential fans. In turn, you can translate those fans into followers and those followers into streams on Spotify, Apple Music, and more.

How? — Well, if your music is available on TikTok for other people to use, you’ll earn royalties ad exposure every time someone uses it in their video. In addition, if your other profiles are linked properly in your TikTok bio, people will be able to discover more of your work whenever they visit your profile. (Linktree is a great tool that gives you one link you can put in your bio that goes to everything you have to offer instead of having a million separate links.)

To wrap it all up…

No matter how good your music is, gaining recognition for your work on TikTok lies within how much effort you put into promoting yourself, making good content, and consistently posting on the platform. These efforts, however, will pay off… literally! In addition, authentically engaging with your audience, being creative, and being confident in what you have to offer will all help you grow your presence on the platform and, in turn, increase your potential to make money along the way.


Still not sure how to get your music on TikTok? Check this out…

Good luck!