Course 7: Record Labels Legal / Business Affairs

The Legal Department is responsible for handling the contracts between the record label and artists, as well as contracts between the record label and other companies. Legal is also responsible for handling lawsuits between the label and other parties. The Business Affairs department is responsible for handling the label’s finances, budget, payroll, and bookkeeping.

But artists should seriously consider having an attorney of their own, both for protecting themselves and their work. As much as we might like to think everyone works in harmony for the best possible outcome, everyone is looking out for their own best interests. And artists may not always be looking at the big picture.

This includes how their music is used outside of the industry (commercials, movies, tv shows, etc.), royalties, length of a contract, creative control, and so on. And it’s important that every contract is legal and enforceable. On the business side of things, having a competent accountant or business manager will also protect the artist. Larger labels usually have in-house accountants while smaller labels may use third-party money managers.

Your assignment for this course includes writing up a demo contract for a new artist, including all the points covered in the course. Be realistic: this is a new band approaching an established label. You don’t want your “client” to come off as too entitled, but you still want to do right by them.