No matter who you are, from the get-go, music contract terms are negotiable. If you are just starting out in the music industry, it is all a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, it is possible for a "newbie" to receive a fair music contract from a dependable label.
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that in this industry everyone is looking out for themselves first. Even honest labels are going to try to negotiate for their best interests. Beware of the dishonest companies that do not keep the artist in mind at all in the music contract negotiation process. This is why your education and experience with music contracts is so crucial.
One common thing to look out for when discussing music contracts is when you are asked to sign a standard music contract. They may even try to tell you that this is just a formality and everyone signs this particular document. A red flag should pop up in your head, especially if you are told this is your chance of a lifetime. You and your career is unique and so
should be your music contract.
No matter what, you should always ask questions if you have them. If you do this and the label suggest you are insinuating that they are not being upfront with you then they probably are not being upfront. It is your right to ask any question and if it puts your music contract deal in jeopardy then you should ponder why that is. The answer is that this is not an honest company and maybe you should look elsewhere. Don’t compromise your career just to sign with someone.
Let them see that you are not just a desperate artist ready to sign on any dotted line. Ask for time to read over the contract with a legal representative or trusted acquaintance. It is imperative that you understand every aspect of the music contract at hand.
You may consider hiring an entertainment lawyer but they are very expensive. If you are someone who can afford this then by all means go for it but most struggling artists cannot. This is o.k. You do not have to hire an attorney to look over your music contract. It is possible to do this on your own or with the help of a friend, manager or family member.
The goal here is to negotiate a fair music contract with a legitimate record label. If a company is honest and forthright then they will be willing to answer any question and explain every clause. Don’t just sign because you are desperate to be a signed artist. Sometimes a signed artist is just as bad off as a solo struggling musician when they have signed a bad deal! Be smart and good luck!