The rate at which Nigerian artist and their respective record labels fall into disagreement and court fights these days is on the increase especially in Nigeria and this is because artist do not go through the contract thoroughly before signing hence issues arise after a short period of time when the artist begins to feel he or she is being cheated.
Often times, artist who sing Nigerian music while still basking in the euphoria of being recognized by a record label rush into deals that ends up affecting their career in the long run.
All this can be curtailed and I would be giving 5 tips below which an artist should put into consideration before signing a deal with any record label more especially, first time deals.
Seek For Legal Advice
The first step an artist should take before signing a deal with any record label should be to seek legal advice.
This applies more to artist who are signing a deal with a record label for the first time. It is necessary to not depend on your sense knowledge as this might be limited in scope.
A lawyer has the legal expertise which is necessary in reading a contract. Although seeking the services of a legal practitioner could be cost incurring, it is a small price in order to secure your career in future.
Avoid Contract With More Than a Year.
Most times, the normal length of time a contract between a record label and an artist should last should not be more than a year then renewal of contract can follow.
When the contract extends for more than a year, you’re giving the record label the opportunity to control your creative work for an unreasonable period of time.
Never Be Among Copyright
The term ‘Transfer of copyright’ or ‘Work for Hire’ should be warning signs if seen in any record deal.
This is because agreeing to Transfer of copyright gives the record label rights to your work to do as they well please. In order to avoid this, it is important to avoid this by declining except in the case of a remix.
Find A Release Commitment
A release commitment is your guarantee that the record label will actually do the work they are supposed to do to get your album produced.
A typical release commitment is a promise from the record label that it will release at least one album in the first year of the contract. If they don’t, you are allowed to walk away from the contract without any losses.
The usual royalty rate is 5 to 10 percent for new artist, 10 to 14 percent for upcoming artist, and 18 percent for experienced and professional artist.
As new artist, this is an important fact to note as some record labels in Nigeria would try to convince you that the royalty rate for a new artist is 1 or 2 percent based on industry standard.
That is false. Also watch out for hidden royalty deductions. Standard deductions include recording cost, video production cost, and CD and DVD creation and packaging cost.
Some other cost likely to be incurred include travel payments, hotel stays, car rentals, meals and entertainment and so on.
This extra cost should be closely checked by the artist because some devious record labels can use this an excuse to extort and deduct from the artist’s royalty check.
Also make sure you can audit the record label on royalty payment. This serves as a means of check and balance to ensure you are not being cheated.
The typical audit provision gives the artist the ability to hire a third-Party auditor to go through the records provided by the record label on expenses made and ensure that the artist gets the pay he deserves.
With the above listed tips, you now have a background knowledge on what to note while signing a record deal.
Writer: Dacyberprime (Naijafutures CEO).