Monday, July 28, 2008
So You Wanna Be A DJ? Part 9
Ever heard that saying "where there's a hit there's a writ?"
It's true. So when I say to you "get your paperwork in order" I do not jest. I have lost thousands and thousands in potential revenue because I didn't know how to do this. Granted in 1988 record deals were signed on the front hood of banged up motors (honestly!). At least in the "GOOD 'OLE RAVE DAYS" we were all so new and naive and happy that someone actually wanted to put our music out that we would have sold our siblings for the chance...lol (sorry bro, just kidding)
Point is, I rarely had paperwork, it was never offered, and when it was I was so broke I couldn't afford a lawyer. So I ended up screwed over without lube. Not pleasant. I always tell my artistes to get their contracts looked at. I recently had an artiste who didn't do this and wanted to give his music to someone else though the track was signed to me. Any other label would have said "tough luck" and really there is little he could do about it. The track wasn't so great and because of his attitude I decided to drop him from the label so we all ended up with what we needed. However he now has no record deal so a contract can also prevent you from losing your deal. Because he didn't bother to research, he lost out in many ways. By the way, if you do need a lawyer, make sure its an entertainment lawyer... a personal injury lawyer or your brother's-cousin-the-public-defender is not gonna know the ins and outs to accurately represent you.
When I was signed to Sony my contract also proved invaluable when I got dropped. Hey, happens to the best of us man, I'm telling you. Look at all the greats, Madonna, The Beatles, Lenny Kravitz, The Rolling Stones, Sting, to name a few, and they would tell you the same. Very few of us sign a record deal, have it go perfectly, and live a long happy life in the studio. I wish it worked that way but with the industry in such a state of flux right now. Look at the labels: EMI, Sony, Epic, RCA, Interscope; so many labels, they were gods, but where will they be in five years? Could we be looking at a mass extinction just like the dinosaurs? And if you're signed to them, will you go down too? Your contract will ensure you are protected financially, should the shit hit the fan. No one wants to buy music when you can steal it for free. Sad but true. Until there is a fair solution I don't see a happy ending for the big labels.... but on the brighter side, that's good news for us, the indie pioneers.
When working with vocalists or writing songs with one or more partners, you also need to protect yourself. Whenever I collaborate there is always a signed piece of paper by both parties splitting the song 50/50 if there were two writers, 33/33/33 for three, and so on. Back in the day we used to mail the track to ourselves and leave it unopened, this was proof of the creation of that track. Old school, but it'll probably stand up in court. There is a great article in this month's Sound On Sound on this matter so read up because you don't know how many hits you have in you, and you never know when someone will cover one of your songs, could be when you're old and gray. How nice to make cash years down the line because you were smart enough to get the legal jargon done today.
As my mum always says...regret can't feed you when your hungry. Ok, I made that up but you get my drift...till the next time.
luv and bass, DJRAP
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