We're gonna need a bigger boat: Sharks in the music Industry
The music industry has moved on and morphed into a totally different beast to what it once was - even as little as 5 years ago. Independent Artists are now more equipped to create a career for themselves and make a living from marketing and promoting themselves and their music successfully. It's a great age to be a musician in many ways, with tons of opportunities available so long as the musician is able to play multiple business roles and put the effort in...which to be fair is part of the fun most of the time.
However, one thing that hasn't changed are the amount of Sharks in the music industry that swim around waiting to take a bite out of those, trusting and uninformed musicians. Essentially, there are some very shady people that are out to make a quick buck and do not care who they rip off.
I am well versed in this. I signed a few years back with a small Independent Label, who's business practices were atrocious. They tried to take a large percentage of every single area of my earnings and did sweet fuck all for the pleasure. I mean, literally nothing. They were a useless bunch, run by a self absorbed, narcissist who whenever confronted with the truth about them doing nothing, would try to bamboozle the musicians with business talk and comments like "This is how a business is run. You don't understand". A really horrible man and a shitty label that preyed particularly on the young and vulnerable. Luckily for me I had been in the industry for a while and I knew how things worked, had a good Solicitor to help me, (to said owners annoyance), and so I managed to call them on their bull shit and get out.
The reason I mention this is because recently I was contacted by another Shark and this one, potentially, was the worst of them all. He contacted me after finding me on Soundcloud and mentioned a selection of my songs that he was interested in using for Sync opportunities. For those that don't know, sync opportunities would relate to the music being used in Films, TV etc. This is a good revenue stream for musicians and something that can pay long after it has been picked up and used. It's a big thing now, what with so many Independent artists making it on their own because it can keep a musician afloat and so there are many companies popping up offering their services.
The email I got was long but pretty uninformative about exactly what was being offered - Lots of fluff with no substance. I smelt a rat.
So, I contacted him back and I asked him to give me a detailed description of what was on offer and a contract to read. About a week later I received a contract...and then Christmas happened and I forgot about it.
Straight after Christmas I got another email asking if I had decided to sign and whether we were going to move forwards on this. I again had an unnerving feeling and so read the contract. Now, I don't know if you've ever read this sort of thing but it is all in Legal speak (Obvs!) and doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but there was one section in particular that really concerned me - Were they saying they would completely own my songs completely? Surely not. I mean, who would ever give away their songs so as they did not own them at all anymore?
I immediately put a shout out on Facebook for any legal nerds I might know, as well as getting it over to the Solicitor who helped me with my last scrape with the dregs of the music business.
Turns out I know a lot of people who work in the world of Law and who are happy to help me out! Which is good to know.
The response from every angle was all the same - DO NOT SIGN THIS.
Because yes, I was completely correct to be concerned. Had I signed this contract this is what would have happened to the songs I agreed to give them to license FOR FILM AND TV:
1. The music would be solely owned by them - I would have no rights whatsoever
2. This would be FOREVER.
3. They could make albums and EP's out of the tracks if they so wished and keep all profits
4. If I "Covered" one of my OWN songs, they would keep all monies made from that
5. They could upload the tracks to streaming sites and reap all the profits from that too
Unbelievable! I understand everyone needs to make profit and if a business is helping to sync my music they are entitled to a share of the publishing. It's only fair. But the disgusting thing about these shitty little companies is they will rape their own Grans savings to make quick money before they are found out and have to shut up shop. It's a Wham-Bam-thank you-Mam outfit.
Alan Partridge never said it better:
So, just beware out there and READ and CHECK any contract you are sent. Because believe me, if you don't, it could mean you lose your songs...FOREVER!!!!
Have you had any Sharks try to take you for a ride? Let me know in the comments below!
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