Welcome to the "Musician's Guide" Series!
This series is pulled directly from the courses I've created for my university position in Music Business. All of these courses are designed for the everyday musician - amateur or professional - who has little or no knowledge on the topic, but wants to master it.
This class is all about Record Labels and Record Deals.

It is ideal for anyone who is interested in seeking out a record deal or is already considering one.

  • Musicians: If you are making music, and considering a record deal, please watch this class!
  • Producers: Before you sign on the dotted line, watch this class to be sure you understand everything you are signing up for.
  • Bands: Maybe you are considering avoiding record labels, and starting your own independent label. This class is for you, too!
  • Curious Minds: Anyone interested in how record labels work is invited to be a part of this class.

We will start with traditional record label deals, and progress forward to talking about more modern deals. We will talk a lot about the "need" for a record deal in the modern age, and how you can get by without one at all. I'll walk you through every issue in the contract so you fully understand what is being asked.
The goal of this class is for you to understand what is in-between the lines of the contract.

This course is NOT specific to any DAW program.

The recording studio has no genre - so all are welcome here.
Topics Covered:

  • Working with Producers
  • Owning the "Master"
  • Distribution
  • Loan-Out Companies
  • Roles of a Record Company
  • Work For Hire
  • Scope of the Record Deal
  • Term of the Record Deal
  • Additional Song Options
  • Other Options
  • Release Commitment
  • Advances
  • Recoupment
  • Payback
  • Royalties
  • Royalty Rate
  • Royalty Basis
  • Royalty Deductions
  • Merchandise
  • Videos
  • 360 Deals
  • Producer Contracts
  • And much, much more!

Course Outline

  • Introduction & Overview
    • Introduction
    • What We are Covering Here
    • Tools You Will Need for This Class
    • Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer
  • Definitions
    • Producer
    • The “Master”
    • Record Company
    • Distribution
    • Loan-Out Company
  • How a Recording Company Works (Traditionally)
    • The 5 Roles of a Traditional Record Company
    • What We can Do Ourselves
    • Do Artists Still Need a Record Label?
  • Parties & Scope
    • Work for Hire
    • Loan-Outs
    • Scope of The Contract
    • The 360 Deal
  • Term
    • What is a Term?
    • Additional Songs
    • Options
    • Making 10 Albums Doesn’t Mean Releasing 10 Albums
  • Release Commitment
    • The Fiona Apple Situation
    • Listen: Unreleased Version
    • So What Happened?
    • Listen: Released Version
    • How did it get Solved?
    • The Release Commitment
  • Advances
    • The Million Dollar Record Deal
    • Recoup
    • Payback
  • Royalties
    • What kind of Royalties?
    • Royalty Basis
    • Royalty Rate
    • “All In” Contracts
    • Deductions: Breakage
    • Deductions: Licensed Re-Sellers
    • Deductions: Container Charges
    • Deductions: Bargain Bins
    • Deductions: New Configurations
    • Deductions: Foreign Territories
    • Deductions: Sales Incentives
    • Deductions: Promotional Copies
  • Math Time
    • Calculation for Royalties of a Physical CD
    • Recoup Amount
    • Calculation for Royalties of a Digital Sale
    • Recoup Amount
  • Merchandise
    • Merchandising Rights
    • Merch Companies
    • Payments
  • Videos
    • Works For Hire
    • Who Pays?
    • Who’s Vision?
  • 360 Deals
    • Why?
    • Taylor Swift Example
  • Producer Agreements
    • The Producer
    • Example: George Martin
    • When George Martin Met the Beatles
    • “Development Deals” With a Producer
  • Wrap Up
    • What Comes Next?
    • Thanks for Watching!

Course Information

Estimated Time: 3 Hours

Course Instructor

Jay Allen Author

J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater. He currently is an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, and is the CEO and co-founder of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.



Members – Claim your seat now!
(Non-members redirected to purchase membership)

Introduction & Overview


How a Recording Company Works (Traditionally)

Parties & Scope


Release Commitment



Math Time



360 Deals

Producer Agreements

Wrap Up

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