online music contracts


Well-Known Member
Jan 3, 2001
Does anyone know if there is any standard contract language online for a "spec" recording deal? (I know enough to get a lawyer to look at the final version, I just want a starting point.) I'm discussing a potential project with a very good R&B band made up of older musicians (all over 60) who have been playing this type of music for 40 or more years. (Real late 50's/ early 60's roadhouse music, with the most energetic "mature" female vocalist I've ever seen.) They have all had moderate levels of success at various points in their pasts, but the band itself is strictly a local LA club band. No label deal, no out-of-area touring, so there are no legal reasons why they can’t record. (any individual contracts any of them might have had would have expired decades ago) I’d guess that they now all have day jobs and just pick up some extra cash gigging 2 or 3 nights per week. (or they could be just supplementing their Social Security checks!)

Whatever their exact situation, these guys are old pros and they are used to getting paid to record, they certainly aren’t gonna pay to record. At the same time, I’m in no position to fund anything. Coincidentally, I have just made a couple of major gear purchases and I need to test the all-new rig on a low pressure project. So I’m proposing to the band that I record one of their upcoming shows at the best sounding room on their schedule. The official purpose of the recording would be as my sample reel for my new DSD format location rig, while the band could use it as their demo tape for gigs. The only way that any money would change hands would be if either

#1) a label wanted to sign the act based on the demo, in which case I would get reimbursed for reasonable recording related costs,


#2) if a label chose to release the demo as a record, in which case I would get reimbursed and also have some small level of participation in the record sales.

I know that this type of deal is not uncommon in the industry and I was wondering if any boilerplate contract language exists online that I could use as a template to draft an agreement.

Normally, I would try very hard to talk the band into a simple hand shake deal as the likelihood of any money coming into play down the road is an extreme longshot. But these guys are "authentic American R&B musicians" with resumes stretching back before most folks reading this forum were born. And my own experiences as a musician lead me to believe that they are just the type of act that could get a small overseas deal, especially with a recording already in the can, ready for release. Hell, just based on my personal experiences, we could be rushing to get these guys passport photos in a few months. (Its both weird and kinda depressing that some label in France will pay for "Authentic American roots musicians" when nobody on this continent will even listen to their tapes.)

Any suggestions on where to look?