Probably the biggest misconception in the music business is that getting signed with a major record label means you have “made it.” What this really means is you met “Daddy Warbucks,” a business person with really deep pockets (a lot of money!), whose primary objective is to make money for him or herself as well as the company. This doesn’t mean they’re bad, it’s good to understand this so you can keep everything in perspective.
So, what’s the deal? A record deal is a contract negotiated between the record company and the artist. If the artist has a manager or agent, they will usually do the negotiating on the artist’s behalf.
How many records you will be obligated to record with a major label (by the way, while under contract with them, you can’t record any other albums or work with any other record labels, or pretty much do anything without their approval)?
Who will have creative control? I’ll give you a hint…it’s usually not the artist.
How Much Money Will an Artist Make?
How much money will the record label spend to make the albums? Be careful here! This is the biggest misconception of all! The company may fork over the money to make the albums, but typically YOU, the artist, will have to pay this back! When someone says they got a $500,000.00 recording contract, it usually means the label is lending the artist money to make the albums. Once the albums start selling, the artist will have to pay that money back!
So, will I be able to keep ANY of the money? After paying back the record company then, yes. You do get a cut. But it’s a small cut of record sales. Of course, if you wrote any of the songs on the album, there’s a chance to make pretty good money through royalties.
The major label may give you a “living advance” as well. This is money for you to live on while working on the album. You’ll probably need to rent an apartment in the vicinity of the company; you’ll need food, clothes, and all the everyday necessities. Remember, this is money you have to pay back, so think small.
Will I Retain Ownership of My Master Recordings?
Who owns the master recordings? The “masters” as they’re called are the physical, original recordings, in digital format. In the past, the major record companies would almost always own the masters EVEN AFTER THE ARTIST PAID THEM BACK! That’s like getting a loan from a bank to buy a house, making all the payments, maybe even paying it off early, and then the bank still owns the house! They could even kick you out if they wanted to! Crazy, huh?
Then will I be famous? After you sign a recording contract, the next phase could take a year…or two or three! It’s possible that part of your deal requires that you spend a couple of years under “development.” That means they see you have potential, but you’re not quite ready for the big time yet. Either way, plan on at least a year of voice lessons, photo shoots, meetings with lawyers, hours in the studio recording or working with producers, maybe working with songwriters, etc. There’s much to be done!
How are Independent Record Labels Different?
Major labels are big businesses whose first concern is the bottom line, not the artist. Keeping that in mind, an independent record label like Toned Records operates differently. Working closely with gifted singers and live bands to improve their vocal and live performance skills is but a small part of what the company does. The company offers so much more than that. It’s about developing, promoting and selling the artist and their music. With a team of experienced professionals ready to help young, talented music artists achieve their dreams of a successful music career, Toned Records is always on the lookout for the next star. Could that be you?