Happy New Year! I hope you enjoy this first contribution. It is, at least in my opinion, the most fundamental and critical information for new artists, especially producers. I'll start by sharing with you why I have created this resource page, and why #PayYourProducer is such an important space to me.
As a producer, working with new artists is a large part of what we do and sometimes the best part. These amazing relationships thrive on good vibes and great talent, creating epic environments of freedom, fun, and creativity, resulting in some of our most inspired works. They are pure music at its finest! However, these informal relationships are almost always plagued by the suited elephant in the room: BUSINESS. No one wants to kill the vibes discussing business and contracts, pay agreements and royalty splits, etc. But, ironically, business is the key to maintaining relationships grounded in respect and reality
We each must embrace the business side of music just as (possibly even more than) we do our creative outlets. After all, we do wish to make money by sharing our art. MUSIC is our BUSINESS! And our very first steps should be taken with some basic understandings about that business. When collaborating with other artists, one of the most common mistakes we make is avoiding addressing fundamental business issues at the start of the relationship. Yes, I mean by way of CONTRACTS. Contracts do not need to be lengthy nor do they need to be riddled with legalese. At its core, a contract is simply a reflection of the relationship, its goals, and represents the expectations of the parties with respect to the product or service.
Recently, I fell victim to my own failure to execute a contract at the start of a collaborative project. I valued the singer/songwriter I was working with as a friend. Let's call her X. Stereotypically, X and I vibed, especially in the creative zone. We chilled. We smoked. We jammed. And we created some amazing music together. X and I had a verbal agreement to split the profitable aspects of our music 50/50. X found herself working with other people as well. She apparently did not value my contribution to our work equal to her contribution. She also did not value our relationship nor verbal agreement more than she did an unrelated opportunity. So, X mistakenly thought she could grant 50% ownership in our work together to a third party, leaving us to split the remaining 50% equally (i.e. 25% of the whole).
When I explained to her that she had no legal right to sell my copyright ownership in my work and presented her with a contract reflecting our verbal agreement, X flipped out. I suggested that she then purchase my work outright and pay an upfront fee, but that made matters worse. Needless to say, our relationship deteriorated to non-existent. Had we executed the contract in advance of beginning our work together, a lot of the headache could have been avoided and we might still be working together. We might still even be friends. Sparing our friendship the seeming unpleasantries of legitimate and necessary business discussions, cost us our friendship and our BUSINESS together. It cost us countless hours of energy and creativity, and work put into a sizable archive of great music that will, now, never be heard (at least not without a an executed contracted).
All that said, #PayYourProducer is rooted in my experience as a producer collaborating with other artists, as we all do. But the resources shared here benefit us all. Collaborations are an inevitable part of the MUSIC BUSINESS and the elevation of our art. Before collaborating with any artists, please check out the very first featured resource: Bobby Borg, Music Producer Deals, Disc Makers Blog (April 1, 2020), available at, https://blog.discmakers.com/2020/04/music-producer-deals/ ("Musician, author, educator, and music industry consultant Bobby Borg has launched a video series aimed at breaking down music business and marketing basics."). Among other great content, Bobby Borg interviews Eric Corne - successful artist and songwriter, Billboard charting blues producer, and owner of Forty Below Records - about the three main deals indie artists and producers should be familiar with before beginning any collaborative project: (i) barter deals, (ii) on-spec deals, and (iii) work-for-hire deals. This is a wonderful snippet that provides some basic information about possible ways which you could structure your collaborative relationship, especially in a contract. But don't miss the chance to watch the entire discussion for more in-depth insight.
If you would liked to contribute to our community, please reach out to us and we'd be happy to feature your relevant content. Let's learn and grow together. Thanks always for supporting me and I can't wait to support you!