ello and welcome to this short mini-series designed to help promising bands and artists, make their way into the music industry. The section I’m looking at this week is ‘Music Services/Retail.
All businesses in this section have been individually contacted to check they’re willing to work with unsigned artists. This means you can very easily look up a local business which is willing to listen with little effort on your part.
In this section you will come across company advertisements and logos. These particular companies are actively marketing what they do through The Unsigned Guide to the UK unsigned community. In most cases they will specialise in, or be very familiar with, working with bands and musicians. They’ll want to hear from you and pride themselves on providing the best service for up-and-coming musicians.
The Music Services/Retail section covers aspects from designers and photographers, recording studios, rehearsal rooms, distributors, PR companies, instrument & record shops to equipment and vehicle hire, video production companies, plus businesses that can help with printing and merchandise.
Remember, this guide is 10 years old. For those of you who are interested in subscribing through the website, you may notice that there are a lot more services on offer. My advice would be to utilise these from the start, because you’ll then become familiar with the services and what’s on offer, along with figuring out what’s best for you and your project.
You should make several calls to ensure you get the best price possible for the product or service you want. Prices and services will vary between suppliers; so don’t jump at the first quote you get. A reliable word-of-mouth referral is also a good way forward and always keep your receipts for accounting purposes at a later date.
Producers will help you create the sound and recording you want, while bringing fresh ideas and knowledge to your project. It’s important to choose a producer that you work well with and they must be enthusiastic in your material in order to help you best develop your sound.
Over the last 10-15 years (as of 2008, so now it’s more like 20-25 years,) there’s been an increase in Production Agreements being offered to Artists. Also, record companies are increasingly looking to licence finished products, rather than bear the costs and hassle of putting artists in the studio themselves.
What is a Production Agreement (or Deal)?
The terms of a Production Agreement can vary and it’s essential that an artist receives independent legal advice from an experienced music industry solicitor prior to signing. There are three types of production deals to be aware of – Studio Demo Agreement, Manager’s Production Company Agreement and Independent Production Company Agreement.
Studio Demo Agreement
The first type of agreement is one which enables the studio to use its ‘downtime’ and give the artist a chance to make a demo without having to pay for the studio time upfront. Generally, the studio doesn’t take any copyright in the masters recorded. In return for this ‘free’ studio time, the studio will want to make a charge, which will be payable sometime in the future – usually after the artist gets a record deal. Also the studio will want an override royalty, usually on all releases up to and including the first album. A 1% or 2% royalty, based on retail price would be usual. Sometimes, the producer also wants to produce the first album released on a third party label.
Manager’s Production Company Agreement
In this instance, The manager will offer the artist their facilities for recording demos or may use an outside studio – as in the studio agreement above. The resulting demo tapes are then taken to record companies the usual route, but the artist won’t sign anything yet, the Manager’s Production Company signs the record deal.
This type of deal is only justifiable if the manager also has a studio and producer which they work closely with, who can jointly add something to the artist’s music. In this instance, the manager usually does a deal based on a 50/50 split of their net receipts and should also pay over 50% of any advances they receive – some deals may be based on a retailer or dealer price base, if the company is more sophisticated.
Independent Production Company Agreement
This final type of deal is the same in essence as the above agreement. This type of agreement will sign the artist for between 1-3 albums – don’t sign for more albums without proper guarantees of full advances and increased royalties – then pays income based on 50%/50% net receipts. The important difference is that the production company is independent, therefore the agreement can be fully negotiated without conflict.
Consideration of the company’s resources and the skills of the producer, will be crucial in deciding whether to sign this sort of agreement. It’s worth bearing in mind that production companies often write material for recording and record it to a standard for commercial release. Without this, many third party companies may not be interested at all.
So this is it for this section, next week I’ll be looking at ‘Live Performance’. Stay tuned and keep on rocking. I hope to see you on a stage somewhere soon.