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what an independent label pays the artist for an album

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by relicpro, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. relicpro

    relicpro Guest

    I'm an independent recording artist/composer/producer/engineer, and I have pretty much zero experience with the business part of the music industry. In fact, I'm still working on my first serious album, and have never sold anything.

    I was recently approached by an international company that licenses music for compilation cds for a style of dance, Nia, and they wanted to license one of my songs for their upcoming compilation. I agreed to the terms ($500 advance + 10ยข per cd/dvd sold), simply because the exposure of being on these compilations alone would be worth it. Keep in mind, I've never played a show before, had zero promotion, and minimal exposure, so this deal was a no-brainer.

    Here's where I need serious help. Or even just a frame of reference dollar-wise for what artists generally make off of tracks/albums.

    The president of the company has now been pressuring me for another deal of a buyout of the track.

    Ownership, in exchange for:
    - $1500 advance in royalties
    - a music video for the song

    I'm hesitant to do this, initially, because I am entirely naive of the workings of the music business. I've heard bad stories about artists getting ripped off, and I don't want to be a fresh fish who gets hoodwinked into a terrible deal. Secondly, the track is going to be a cornerstone of my upcoming album, and I'm really not keen at all at having to license that same track back from someone else in order to use it on my own album.

    The exec is citing the benefits of having a music video and getting exposure from selling the track, but the company has already licensed the track for their upcoming compilation album... so I will already be getting international exposure from that. So basically it's $1500 advance in royalties (which I would get anyways by waiting a few years) and a music video, in exchange for my track. The guy is no dummy, and he does have connections (has licensed many songs in the last 5 years... check out the track lists on the compilations). And he does know the business, and could be a very valuable person to work with.

    Is there anyone out there that has experience with buyouts? Or can give me some sort, any sort of reference for the details of what a standard buyout usually runs for? I have absolutely no frame of reference right now, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Or even, can anyone tell me a rough estimate of what the average independent label pays the artist for an album (or a general average per track)?
  2. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    The terms sound fairly reasonable. And, if they're your songs completely, per copyright law, the .10/song is approx. standard mechanical royalties rate that has to be paid.

    I think it would be best to do a bit of research via the ASCAP, BMI, Harry Fox websites as well as consult a qualified attorney. It sucks to pay up front, but protecting yourself on the front end is extremely worthwhile.

    Congrats- it sounds like you are in with pros and not wankers.

  3. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Don't do the buyout! If you can, get a lawyer. If he's that interested in the song, it's not worth it to sell yourself short. Agree to less points per sale ok. $0.05 per cd sold. Don't give that up because that is where the potential lies. He knows this. If you sell off completely you will see nothing but the $1500. Yes you may get credit for the song but that doesn't mean you will be able to use it at any point in time other than on your resume. If you want to license it out to another party you won't have the right to do so. Keep your rights. A full buyout essentially strips you of any copyright or at least any of the benefits of copyright.

    GET A LAWYER. At the very least discuss it with an experienced music lawyer. There may be some options that charge a small fee or will do it for free for an up and coming artist.
  4. relicpro

    relicpro Guest

    So I ended up turning down the offer. I didn't like the part about having to license my own music back from them in order to use it on my upcoming album. And I felt like he might have been trying to get over on me with the deal because I'm a novice to the industry. Or maybe the industry standard is just screwing over artists... either way, yes I would definitely want to consult a lawyer before signing anything like that. I was just hoping to avoid going to a lawyer over something that even to me looked like a rotten deal.

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