Tuesday, April 6

Good Deal or Bad Deal?

There are a lot of people in the music business who want to help you reach your music goals - even people who make sacrifices themselves to work in music just because they love it. Unfortunately, to find these people, you have to navigate a minefield of people who see your dreams as their personal goldmine. Learn to spot the red flags of a rip off a mile away so you don't end up on the losing end of a bad deal.

1. Red Flag One - Paying for a Deal
A manager, agent or PR company should never ask you to pay a fee upfront to represent you. That doesn't mean these people don't get paid - they do, either according to a set schedule arranged between you or on a per campaign basis, but you should never, ever hand over your money to someone who charges you a fee to "get on their books." If someone says they can "make you a star" if you just write them a big check, run the other way.

2. Red Flag Two - You Can't Get Any Advice
If someone comes at you with a legal contract but they don't want you to seek an outside opinion about what that contract means for you, be very concerned. Note that if someone arranges for you to talk to their lawyer, that's not impartial advice. Unless you all go to a lawyer together to work out a fair deal, you need your own legal reps. (If the other party doesn't have a lawyer involved and the contracts are very simple, one page docs, you don't have to run out and spend the money on one. If they do have one though, you should,too.)

3. Red Flag Three - Pay to Play
You may not always get paid to play a gig, and you may end up out of pocket after you weigh up your travel costs, but that doesn't mean you should ever pay a promoter for a chance to take the stage. There are exceptions - for example, some bands "buy on" to major stadium/arena tours, in essence paying money for the chance to open for a top selling band. These deals should only ever happen on major tour. You should never pay to play at a club show. Tons of clubs will put you on for free.

4. Red Flag Four - Bad Percentages
There are many people who might get a cut of your earnings for their work for you, but you should never be handing out a larger percentage of your earnings to any one person than you are keeping yourself. Does that management deal give the manager 70% and you 30%? Don't sign.

5. Red Flag five- You Can't Find Your Way Out of the Deal
Options to renew contracts are a normal part of most deals - they are a safety net to prevent someone from putting in all of the hard work and someone else reaping all of the benefits. But if the options give the person you are making the deal with the power to renew your deal again and again AND the option to leave the deal at any time, while you just have to sit back and wait for them to decide, beware.

6. Red Flag Six - It Just Doesn't Make Sense
If someone guarantees you they can take you from playing music in your bedroom to a major label contract in a month, get their lottery numbers, because they are clearly the luckiest person in the world. Having big goals and going for them is important, but in music slow and steady generally wins the race. You want to work with someone who believes you can make it all the way and tries to make it happen, but be wary of the person who thinks they can help you skip steps 1 - 280.

What's your take... leave your comments below.

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