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do's & don'ts

For a Record Deal

1. Never record a song unless wholly written by you unless (a) you are sure you will be able to get a mechanical license in respect of it and (b) you're satisfied the song is original and is not obscene or defamatory.

2. Once recordings are completed in the studio ensure that they are delivered to the record company. Don't leave it up to the record company to collect.

3. Ensure that any artists who are not a contractual member of your group who perform on recordings sign the necessary consent forms. Normally this is the record company's responsibility but it has become common practice to put the responsibility on the artist. Never use a musician who is not a member of the musician's union (exceptions do occur) and if you know a musician has a record agreement make sure your record company gets clearance from his.

4. Make sure there's nothing in the artwork for your records that:
a) is obscene
b) is in breach of someone's rights

5. Make sure there is no part of the recording which is not original material.

6. If anyone leaves the group you have to advise the record company, it may give them a right to terminate.

7. Ensure any album does not have more then ten tracks especially if some of them are not written by you. If you have written all of them better to have ten rather then less.

8. Wherever possible any B-side is:
a) one of your own songs (for publishing income)
b) produced by the same person who produced the A-side or produced by someone who is not going to receive a producer's royalty. Lots of producers get paid on the B-side even if they did not produce it and so you could end up paying two producers for the B-side.

9. Whenever someone is going to record your performance there should be a written agreement confirming that they will not use the recording in breach of the rights of the record company.

10. Do not re-record any song recorded by you for another record company.

11. You probably need the record company's consent to do any instrumentals.

12. If you believe that a record company to reimburse any expenses check in advance unambiguously that they will and that the amount of the expense is acceptable to them.

13. Remember before recording that every song, the producer of the recordings and the studio will need to be approved by the record company.

14. Do not incur any recording costs in excess of a recording budget without making sure that the record company will not (a) require you to repay the advance rather than recoup it or (b) want to deduct it from advances as opposed to royalties.

15. Do not appear on a recording for any other artist or record company without your record company's approval.

16. Remember that any new member of the group will probably be obliged to join in the recording agreement.

17. a. Make sure that any agreements in respect your live appearances include a clause stating that no one can record your performance.
17. b. Remember that every recording and video made during the term of your record agreement will probably belong to your record company and so if you film or record ten concerts then that will be 10 free videos and ten live albums that the record company would own.

18. Deals where the advances are inclusive of recording costs are very dangerous. Over the years recording costs become more expensive and those deals mean that you almost always do not have enough to live on or record.

19. Cover recordings can be very bad news:
a) they obviously reduce your publishing income
b) because of the operation of the "75% mechanical clause" they can also reduce your record royalties and advances. If you're likely to include more than one cover on an album then an approach should be made long before recording to the publisher of the cover to ask them to accept a 75% mechanical rate for the USA and Canada and generally to sign a letter indicating they accept the publishing provisions of your recording agreement including those relating to synchronization licenses and videos generally.
c) cover recordings will effect your minimum commitment under your publishing agreement
d) if you co-write with someone and unless he/she has signed the same recording and publishing agreement as you then his part of the song is like a "cover". Before writing with him/her you should get him/her to sign a letter accepting the publishing provisions of your recording agreement.

20. You must check with your accountant immediately whether you should be registering for VAT or US Sales Tax.

21. Remember an agreement is not concluded until both parties have signed. Do not give up any job until then.

22. Avoid putting more than ten tracks on an album. If there are any cover recordings make it not less than ten tracks.

23. It is increasingly the case that you need your record company's permission for TV broadcasts of more than two songs.

24. Keep video costs down.



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