How to Write a Music Contract

by Jim Hagerty; Updated September 26, 2017

Writing a music contract is much like writing any contract; however, it may require the inclusion of key elements in order for it to be fair for all parties. In the music business, artists sign contracts to give specific performances, record music or become employed by entertainment and record companies. When it's all said and done, the contracts are largely the same. However, there are a few things to remember when preparing them. Read more for help.

Items you will need

  • Terms of contract
  • Attorney
  • Notary
Step 1

Know what each party expects under the contract. To ensure this, it is wise to have an attorney draw up the contract based on the desires of everyone involved. This usually begins with clearly stating who the contract is between and what is expected from each involved party.

Step 2

Be date and project-specific. It is crucial for a music contract to clearly show exactly when the contract begins and ends.It is also vital to include what Each party should know exactly what is expected during a specific period of time. For example, a guitarist may sign a contract to play five shows with a jazz band for a certain amount of money starting on Jan. 1, 2009, and ending Feb. 12, 2009. Or, a band may be required to record two albums for a record label within a year.

Step 3

State compensation and project-specific information clearly. Because the music business is complex, your contract should be specific in explaining monetary issues. For example, many bands sign management deals and are forced to work within a budget for promotions, advertising and merchandising.It is, therefore, vital to know which party is responsible for covering these expenses. Expenses include but are not limited to studio time, travel expenses, food and lodging on tours, even clothing for artists. Bands under contract also must know their share of the profits for selling their music and each member's share of royalties.

Step 4

Clearly indicate what constitutes a breach of contract. After you have included what is expected from each party, you must clearly indicate to each party the consequences for not delivering according to the contract terms. For example, a band agrees to be advanced $12,000 upon agreement to record an album for a record company. If it fails to deliver the album by the end of the contract, it must repay the advancement, giving the record company the means to legally collect on the debt.

Step 5

Sign, date and notarize your contract. All music contracts should be clearly signed and dated by each party, verifying they understand the terms. All amendments must also be written, signed and dated.

Tips

  • Always use legal names and stage and band names when writing music contracts. It is wise to contact an attorney if you are not thoroughly versed in how to write contracts. Contract should be written on an official letterhead or in an other form recommended by an attorney. Always include home and/or business addresses of all parties.

Warnings

  • Never sign a contract unless you understand what is expected of you, your legal rights and the consequences of breaching the agreement.
    Always make sure all dates match and that each party signs in the correct places. If you are an artist, make sure you retain the rights to your work. It is common for record and management companies to legally own your written and recorded music after your contract expires. Never agree to pay expenses you are required to incur.

About the Author

Jim Hagerty is a writer and journalist who began writing professionally in 1996. He has had articles published in the "Rock River Times," "Builder's Journal" and various websites. He earned a Bachelor of Science in public relations and journalism from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.