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Contracts In The Music Industry!

Updated: May 11, 2021

Before I start to talk about the boring world of contract laws, the question needs to be answered. How much do well known producers, the top dogs actually make?

How Much Does a Producer Make?

Depending on how well known you are depends how much you are likely to get paid for producing a track or album. For example a new producer who isn’t very experienced can charge $200- $900 dollar per song they produce, which would most likely include mixing and mastering, as well as this they can ask for a maximum of 20% of the royalties on the track. This seems like a very good and it is. However, a well known producer such as Kanye West or Dr. Dre producing a single for you they can charge up to $100k+ and more than 20% of royalties because they are very experienced, are well known and more likely to make a song that hits top of the charts, which is an insane amount of money for a single track. Even if its someone as big as Kanye West or Dr. Dre.

Due to the following information being taken out of an essay I done a while ago, it is possible some of the work is NOT mine. Therefore, italics has been used to highlight this.

Producer/Production Contracts

A producer will either get a flat fee contract or an Advance Plus Royalty contract.

A flat fee contract is when the producer is paid by the artist or record label to simply administer the recording process and ensure it is industry quality. The money varies depending on your skill level as mentioned before.

The other contract is an Advance Plus Royalty contract. This is when the producer gets royalties on top of the flat fee for his contribution to the song. The royalties will vary too. However, the better option when producing for a bigger artist is royalties as you could get paid year round for the song. Take Mariah Carey for example. She makes most if not a large quantity of her money from the Christmas songs played every year, she makes close to 1 million dollars every year from it and if you were lucky enough to get a 5% royalty rate of something like that you could be looking at a healthy 50,000 dollar pay check every December. More than enough for the Christmas presents.

There are many different clauses in contracts. Below I have explained what the 3 main clauses as well as what the differences of a Production and Producer contract are:

First off Production contracts.

Production contracts are very similar to recording contracts where an artist contacts the record label or production house directly. With this contract the artist will share all rights with the producer and will split the profits with the producer once the costs are recouped.

The three key clauses of this contract are:

  1. Advances. So the producers fee.

  2. The recouping. Which is when the cost of the equipment and studio are taken into account and paid for. Usually all costs are recoupable.

  3. Assignment of rights. In this contract all the rights of the recording are owned by the production company the artist hired.

The next contract is a Producer contract. This is when a producer can be contracted by a record label, record company or an artist. In this contract all the rights are signed to the record company. For example if you made a jingle for an advert or a company, the company owns the copyright on that song. Their main responsibility is to ensure the track is at industry/commercial level quality as well as ensure that all the necessary rights are acquired from the performers.

The main clauses in this contract are:

  1. Advance/fee. This is usually a fee of around £5000 plus an advance to cover the recording process. The record, mix and master

  2. On this contract the producer does get a royalty rate. Mechanical rights in music usually get a 4-8% royalty rate as well as getting some credits.

  3. Rights and duties (all rights are assigned to the record company including how performances by the producer are handled. Admin duties, time scales and responsibilities for contracts and releases

How does this relate to my work?

This information is essential for me working in the music industry as it is so easy to be taken advantage of when working for companies, record labels and different artists. When working on a song I will charge by hourly rate or flat fee plus a royalty of 4-8%. The hourly rate will be around the £10 mark to start off with the flat fee being anywhere between £2000-£5000 depending what is actually being recorded and what I need to hire for the specific session.

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