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Music Recording Contract



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THIS CONTRACT (the "Agreement") dated this ________ day of ________________, ________


_________________________ of _________________________
(the "Company")


- AND -

_________________________ of _________________________
(the "Artist")



  1. The Artist is a professional entertainer and recording artist known as "_________________________"
  2. The Company is in the business of producing Master Recordings, or causing such Master Recordings to be produced as well as manufacturing, distributing and selling records directly or through third parties.
  3. The Artist wishes the Company to produce Master Recordings of the Artist's performances and market these Master Recordings.
  4. The Company wishes to produce and market the Master Recordings subject to the following terms and conditions.

IN CONSIDERATION OF and as a condition of the Company producing and distributing certain recordings for the Artist and other valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which consideration is hereby acknowledged, the parties to this Agreement agree as follows:

  1. Term
  2. The Term of this Agreement will consist of an initial period (the "Initial Contract Period") during which the Artist and the Company will cooperate to produce Master Recordings suitable for the production of one Album or LP and will continue for a further twelve months after the delivery of the Master Recording to allow the Company time to manufacture, market and distribute the product in the Territory.
  3. The initial Contract Period and any extensions and suspensions will be referred to as the "Term".
  4. Production
  5. The Company agrees to produce Master Recordings consisting of songs written and performed by the Artist (the "Songs"). The resulting recording (the "Recording") will include music of not less than none minutes in playing duration and will consist of not less than none tracks, and will be of a quality which is at least equal to an industry standard normally produced for commercial distribution.
  6. Each Recording made will be subject to the Company's approval as commercially and technically satisfactory for the manufacture and sale of records according to reasonable and accepted industry standards. The Artist agrees to re-record a recording where necessary until the Recording meets an acceptable standard of quality, at the sole discretion of the Company. The Artist will not have completed its obligations under this Agreement until the Company has acknowledged in writing that a Recording has met this standard. In the event that any Recording delivered by the Artist is deemed unsatisfactory by the Company, the Company will give notice of rejection to the Artist within none days of the receipt of such Recording and the Artist will have none days to deliver a replacement Recording.
  7. No Recording made under this Agreement will apply in reduction of the Artist's Recording Commitment to the Company if it is a Composition previously recorded by the Artist, or if it embodies a Composition which the Artist is legally prohibited from recording. A "best of" or "greatest hits" LP will not apply in reduction of the Artist's Recording Commitment.
  8. Exclusivity
  9. For the Term of this Agreement, the Artist will provide services as a recording artist exclusively for the Company within the Territory and the Artist will not provide services as a recording artist for any other entity whatsoever. In the capacity of a recording artist, the Artist will perform services at reasonable times and places designated by the Company and such services will include, but not be limited to, rehearsing, recording and editing with the purpose of making a commercially viable Recording.
  10. Dates and Locations of Recording Sessions
  11. For the purposes of this Agreement, the Artist will provide its services as a recording artist and will make themselves available at _________________________ commencing on June 24, 2024 and ending on June 24, 2024.
  12. Costs
  13. The Company will pay or get a Label to pay all recording costs that are reasonable and generally accepted in the industry including, but not limited to, cost of producer, arranger, studio time, background musicians, background vocalists, A&R man as well as reasonable costs related to Album cover art, production and promotion. All such costs will be charged against the Artist's royalties. If the Artist fails to appear or is late in appearing as designated by the Company, the Artist agrees to pay any and all related reasonable costs incurred by the Company.
  14. Selection Control
  15. Selections to be included in the Recording under this Agreement will be chosen in the joint discretion of the Artist and the Company. The Artist may submit material at all times.
  16. Completion and Release
  17. The Recording will be completed and prepared for release and distribution on or before June 24, 2024.
  18. Interference
  19. A party to this Agreement will be free of liability where the party is prevented from executing their obligations under this Agreement in whole or in part due to force majeure, such as earthquake, typhoon, flood, fire, and war or any other unforeseen and uncontrollable event where the party has communicated the circumstance of the said event to any and all other parties and taken any and all appropriate action to mitigate the said event. If the Artist refuses to rehearse and record when reasonably requested by the Company, the Company may suspend its obligations under this Agreement. The length of time this Agreement is under such suspension will be added to the then current Contract Period .
  20. Title
  21. The title of the Album consisting of the Recording will be chosen in the joint discretion of the Artist and the Company.
  22. Equitable Relief
  23. The recording services of the Artist are of a special and unique nature the loss of which cannot be reasonably or adequately compensated for in damages and such breach may cause the Company irreparable injury and damage. In addition to any other rights and relief offered under this Agreement, the Company will be entitled to injunctive and other equitable relief to prevent any breach of this Agreement by the Artist.
  24. Assignment of Exclusive Rights by the Artist
  25. Upon the Company performing all of its obligations under this Agreement as required, the Artist will assign to the Company all of its rights, title, and interest in and to the following property, for distribution and commercial exploitation in the Territory:
    1. the Songs;
    2. the Artist's performance of the Songs contained in the Recording; and
    3. the title of the Recording.
  26. The Artist waives as against the Company the benefits of any and all moral rights and agrees not to assert any moral rights against the Company relating to the Recording delivered under this Agreement. Under this section, the Artist retains the right to be identified as author of compositions embodied upon the Recording.
  27. License of Name and Image
  28. The Artist grants to the Company and to parties authorized by the Company the following perpetual rights:
    1. the right to use and publish the Artist's name, likeness, and biographical material for advertising purposes in connection with the Recording made under this Agreement;
    2. the right to manufacture, distribute, license or otherwise use within the Territory the Recording made under this Agreement including the right to combine and sell with recordings of performances of other artists; and
    3. the right to perform the Recordings publicly.
  29. Copyright
  30. The Company and parties authorized by the Company will have the right to secure copyright in the Company's name as owner and author on any and all Master Recordings made under this Agreement and to renew such copyright in the Company's name in perpetuity.
  31. Distribution
  32. The Company will have the exclusive rights to and control over distribution, promotion and use of the Recording and the Artist throughout the Territory. The Company will have exclusive control over all matters regarding the media and press releases.
  33. Warrants and Representations of the Artist
  34. The Artist warrants and represents that:
    1. the Artist is under no obligation or prohibition that would prevent entering this Agreement;
    2. the Artist is not affected or hindered in any way by any disability that would prevent full performance of this Agreement;
    3. use of the songs, music, lyrics, or compositions used in the Recording will not violate any law or infringe on the copyright or rights of any other person not a party to this Agreement;
    4. no person other than the Company has any right to use any songs, music, lyrics, or compositions used in the Recording; and
    5. the Artist will not enter into any other agreement of any kind that would interfere with the Artist's ability to perform its obligations under this Agreement.
  35. Use of Stage Name
  36. The Artist warrants and represents that:
    1. the Artist is and will be the sole owner of the name "_________________________" (the "Stage Name") as well as any other future name of the Artist;
    2. the Artist has and will have and retain the right to grant use of the Stage Name for the duration of this Agreement;
    3. the Artist will not use any other professional or performing name for the duration of this Agreement; and
    4. the Artist will not grant or allow to be granted use of the Stage Name to any other entity other than the Company during the Term of this Agreement.
  37. Royalties
  38. The Company will endeavor to enter into a distribution agreement with a record distribution company in order to commercially exploit the Recording made under this Agreement. The Company will collect royalties and licensing fees (collectively the "Royalties") with respect to the distribution of the Recording. The Royalties will be used to satisfy all costs incurred by the Company to record, produce, market and distribute the Recording. Under no circumstance will the Artist be liable where the Royalties are insufficient to satisfy such costs. Any Royalties remaining will be allocated and distributed between the Company and the Artist, in the following proportion:
    1. zero percent (__________%) to the Company; and
    2. zero percent (__________%) to the Artist.
  39. Royalty Accounting
  40. The Company will have the right to collect all gross income under this Agreement and will provide timely, detailed semi-annual reports to the Artist showing all revenue received and all expenses incurred. The Company will provide any payment due to the Artist with such reports. The Artist will have four years from the time of receipt to provide notice of objection to any issue relating to any report.
  41. All royalties payable will be subject to statutory minimums where applicable.
  42. The royalties payable will be divided equally between the members of the Group.
  43. Audit
  44. On written notice to the Company of at least five business days, the Artist may request unrestricted access to the books and records of the Company for review or photocopying regarding any accounting or financial issue or issues relating to this Agreement. Such books and records will include, but not be limited to, detailed listings of all expenses and revenues relating to this Agreement. The Company will maintain such books and records in a readily available form and according to generally accepted accounting practices. If the Company fails to provide reasonable cooperation under this section, the Company will be deemed to be in breach of this Agreement.
  45. Controlled Composition
  46. The Artist grants to the Company an irrevocable non-exclusive license, under copyright, to reproduce each Controlled Composition on Records and to distribute the Recording in the United States of America and Canada.
  47. Mechanical royalties will be payable for each Controlled Composition on Net Sales of Records and at the following rates:
    1. For the United States, at a royalty per selection (the "U.S. Per Selection Rate") equal to zero percent (__________%) of the minimum statutory per selection rate, and without regard to playing time, effective on the date such recording is delivered by the Artist and received as satisfactory by the Company.
    2. For Canada, at a royalty per selection (the "Canadian Per Selection Rate") equal to zero percent (__________%) of the statutory per selection rate, and without regard to playing time, effective on the date such recording is delivered by the Artist and received as satisfactory by the Company, or, if there is no statutory rate in Canada on such date, zero percent (__________%) of the prevailing rate, and without regard to playing time, agreed upon by the Canadian recording industry and the Canadian music publishing industry or its mechanical collection representative in effect on the date such Recording is delivered according to this Agreement.
    3. Where a particular Recording appears more than once on a record the Company will pay mechanical royalties as if the Recording appeared only once.
    4. The Company will establish a separate account with respect to mechanical royalties and such account will not be cross-collateralized with production and recording expenses relating to this Agreement.
  48. Non-Circumvention
  49. The Artist will not detrimentally interfere with the Company's distribution of the Recording or enter into a contract that is inconsistent with the Company's right to distribute the Recording.
  50. Non-Performance by the Company
  51. In the event that any Recording is not released to a major market within none days, the Artist will have the right to serve written notice upon the Company requiring the Company to release the Recording within sixty days of receipt of such notice. In the event that the Recording is not released within the sixty day period, the Artist will have the immediate right to terminate this Agreement by notice in writing and the Artist will have no further obligations under this Agreement.
  52. Option to Purchase Back Rights
  53. If this Agreement is terminated for reasons of non-performance by the Company, the Artist may purchase the Recording (the "Buyback Option") for the total sum of:
    1. $0.00 USD; plus
    2. any un-recovered costs reasonably incurred by the Company under this Agreement.
  54. On exercise of the Buyback Option:
    1. the Company will act in a reasonable and timely fashion to resolve any outstanding issues and to facilitate the execution of the Buyback Option;
    2. this Agreement will terminate with no further obligations for any party to this Agreement; and
    3. the Artist will no longer be bound by any exclusivity restrictions and will be free to record, produce, market and distribute the Recording or any portion of the Recording.
  55. Assignment
  56. Prior to completion of the Recording, the rights and obligations of the Company existing under this Agreement are personal and unique, and may only be assigned with the prior written consent of the Artist. Subsequent to the completion of the Recording, the Company may assign its rights and obligations existing under this Agreement without the consent of the Artist.
  57. The rights and obligations of the Artist existing under this Agreement are personal and unique, and can not be assigned without prior written consent of the Company.
  58. Performance Causing the Company Liability
  59. The Company may withhold its permission for the Artist to perform publicly or to permit the performance of its Recording through any media outlet that is not in the public's best interest or the Company's best interest or does not meet the standards of public decency in the business region in which the Company operates. If the Artist participates in any public venture that might cause the Company liability, the Company has the right to immediately terminate this Agreement for breach of this provision.
  60. Life Insurance
  61. The Artist will assist the Company in obtaining life insurance on the Artist, including submitting to a physical examination, where the Company wishes to obtain such life insurance.
  62. Independent Contractors
  63. This Agreement does not and will not be construed to create a partnership or joint venture between the parties of the Agreement. It is specifically understood and agreed that the Artist is an independent contractor.
  64. Binding Effect
  65. The obligations, rights and benefits of this Agreement will be binding upon the Artist's successors, permitted assigns, executors, administrators, beneficiaries, and representatives, and the Company's successors and permitted assigns.
  66. Mediation and Arbitration
  67. In the event a dispute arises out of or in connection with this Agreement, the parties will attempt to resolve the dispute through friendly consultation.
  68. If the dispute is not resolved within a reasonable period then any or all outstanding issues may be submitted to mediation in accordance with any statutory rules of mediation. If mediation is not successful in resolving the entire dispute or is unavailable, any outstanding issues will be submitted to final and binding arbitration in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The arbitrator's award will be final, and judgment may be entered upon it by any court having jurisdiction within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  69. Governing Law
  70. The Company and the Artist submit to the jurisdiction of the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia for the enforcement of this Agreement or any arbitration award or decision arising from this Agreement. This Agreement will be enforced or construed according to the laws of the the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  71. Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
  72. The Company and the Artist agree to perform their obligations under this Agreement, in all respects, in good faith.
  73. Notices
  74. Any notices or delivery required by this Agreement will be deemed completed when hand-delivered, delivered by agent, or seven days after being placed in the post, postage prepaid, to the parties at the addresses listed below or as the parties may later designate in writing.


    1. Company Name: _________________________
      Company Address: _________________________
      Company Phone: _______________________


    1. Artist Name: _________________________
      Artist Address: _________________________
      Artist Phone: _______________________
  75. General Provisions
  76. Time is of the essence in this Agreement.
  77. This Agreement may be executed in counterparts.  Facsimile signatures are binding and are considered to be original signatures.
  78. The Artist and the Company acknowledge that this Agreement is reasonable, valid and enforceable. However, if a court of competent jurisdiction finds any of the provisions of this Agreement to be invalid or too broad to be enforceable, it is the parties' intent that such provision be reduced in scope by the court only to the extent deemed necessary by that court to render the provision reasonable and enforceable.
  79. Headings are inserted for the convenience of the parties only and are not to be considered when interpreting this Agreement. Words in the singular mean and include the plural and vice versa. Words in the masculine gender include the feminine gender and vice versa. Words in the neuter gender include the masculine gender and the feminine gender and vice versa.
  80. In the event that a party is forced to obtain an attorney to enforce the terms of this Agreement, the party prevailing in such action of enforcement will be entitled to the recovery of attorney's fees incurred in such action.
  81. This contract may be modified or changed only by an instrument in writing executed by both the Company and the Artist.
  82. This Agreement is the entire agreement between the parties and all negotiations and understandings have been included in this Agreement. Statements or representations which may have been made to the Company by the Artist or to the Artist by the Company, in the negotiation stages of this Agreement may in some way be inconsistent with this final written Agreement. All such statements are hereby declared to be of no value. Only the written terms of this Agreement will bind the parties.
  83. All definitions set forth in Exhibit "A" will apply to this Agreement and are incorporated by reference into this Agreement.
  84. Independent Legal Counsel
  85. The Artist acknowledges that the Company has given it the right and opportunity to have this Agreement, and the attachments to it, reviewed by an attorney of its choice having competence in the music and entertainment industries, and it has done so. The Artist further acknowledges that said attorney has reviewed with it the terms and conditions of this Agreement and its attachments, and that the Artist still wishes to execute this Agreement.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the parties have duly affixed their signatures under hand and seal on this ________ day of ________________, ________.



per: ____________________(seal)



Exhibit "A"


"A&R" - An A&R person is an employee of a record company who is in charge of finding and developing new talent including matching specific artists to appropriate performance material.

"Album" or "LP" - one 12-Inch 33 1/3 r.p.m. record, CD, or its equivalent, having at least none tracks and none minutes total playing time.

"Composition" - a single continuous musical performance, including but not limited to musical spoken words, bridging passages and medleys.

"Controlled Composition" - a Composition owned or controlled and most often written by the Artist.

"Cross-Collateralize" - to secure a pre-existing debt with an unrelated or independent asset or revenue source.

"Delivery" and "Deliver" - with respect to Master Recordings to be Delivered under this Agreement. Complete performance by the Artist of all of the Artist's recording obligations under this Agreement to the approval by the Company.

"Distributor" - a company which has the right to manufacture and/or distribute Records derived from the Recording made pursuant to this Agreement.

"Label" - a company that produces musical recordings for commercial distribution.

"Master Recording" - every recording of sound or sound plus video, by any method now known or discovered in the future, which is used in the recording, production and manufacture of records or Video. Under this Agreement a Master Recording of a single song will be no less than 2.25 minutes in length.

"Mechanical Royalties" - Mechanical royalties are required to be paid under copyright law and are fees paid to the songwriter for the right to use and distribute a song on an Album or CD. Mechanical Royalties are paid at a rate per Album or CD sold or distributed.

"Net Sales" - Eighty Five (85%) percent of gross sales for which the Company receives payment and which are not returned for refund or exchange.

"Recording Costs" - all costs representing direct expenses incurred by the Company in connection with the pre-production, production and post-production of Master Recordings made under this Agreement that are customarily considered "Recording Costs" in the record industry.

"Records" and "Phonograph Records" - all forms of reproductions, now known or discovered in the future, manufactured or distributed primarily for personal or private use, including records of sound alone but excluding Video.

"Territory" - means the United States of America and Canada.

"Video" - an audio-visual work consisting of a Master Recording of one or more Compositions synchronized with a moving visual image most usually of the Artist performances.

Last updated October 18, 2023

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What is a Music Recording Contract?

A Music Recording Contract is a legal agreement between a music recording company and an artist or group that creates music. Recording companies use the contract to outline the terms for creating recorded music with the artist.

Your Music Recording Contract should cover details like:

  • Compensation and royalties
  • Where and when the album will be recorded
  • The album’s release date
  • Who has creative control over specific elements of the album
  • The termination clause
  • The exclusive agreement clause
  • Dispute resolution
  • Promotional appearances 

Music Recording Contracts are also known as record deals, recording contracts, and record label contracts.

If you are looking for a liability waiver for a music studio, an Activity Waiver is better suited for your needs.

Why do I need a Music Recording Contract?

A Music Recording Contract ensures that the record company and artist are on the same page about essential details before beginning to record. Those details in writing provide both parties with legal protection if there's ever a dispute regarding their agreement.

From the record company’s perspective, the contract also provides assurances regarding the performance and conduct of the singer(s), songwriter(s), and band members during the process of recording and releasing an album.

For the artist, the contract ensures that the record label will front the costs associated with producing and promoting an album. It can also guarantee their autonomy in certain aspects of the creative process, if they get it in writing. 

How long do Music Recording Contracts last?

The record company and artist's obligation to continue working together depend on the contract's terms.

If the contract is for only one album, it ends after both parties fulfill their obligations stated in the agreement's terms. Some Record Contracts include a renewal option for record companies, which allows them to extend the contract for a specific number of albums.

However, the validity of the contract's terms relating to compensation and royalties extends past the conclusion of the record company and the artist's working relationship.

In the United States, artists have copyrights to their music for the rest of their life, plus 70 years. That means the artist will receive the royalties set by their contract for the rest of their life. After they pass away, their estate will continue to receive royalties for another 70 years.

What is meant by “master recording” in a Music Recording Contract?

The “master recording” is the original copy of a recording that will then be replicated when distributing the music or video. In other words, you’re listening to a duplicated version of the master recording when you purchase an album.

It refers to any sound or video used to record, produce, or manufacture an album or video.

Can a Music Recording Contract be broken?

Yes, a Music Recording Contract can be broken. A recording company or artist can break a contract if they fail to uphold the obligations and responsibilities agreed upon in the contract. However, breaching a contract usually comes with legal consequences.

How to create a Music Recording Contract

You can easily create a customized Music Recording Contract by filling out LawDepot's questionnaire. Using our template will ensure you complete the necessary steps:

Step 1: Specify where you’re creating the Music Recording Contract

Start your Music Recording Contact by specifying where you're creating the agreement. States have differing laws, and we'll customize your contract to meet your location's regulations.

For example, if you create your contract in California and a dispute relating to the agreement arises in the future, mediation and court appearances will take place in California.

Step 2: Provide the recording company’s and artist’s details

Your Music Recording Contract needs to include the recording company's and each artist's name, address, and phone number.

Also, specify the individual’s or group’s stage name.

Step 3: Outline the production details

Outline production details like where the recording will take place and the start and end dates.

Also, state whether the artist, recording company or both will have control over:

  • Song selections
  • Album title
  • Recording quality

Step 4: Outline the recording details

Include details about the album like:

  • The number of tracks
  • The minimum duration of recordings
  • The release date

The contract should also specify the number of days the recording company has to inform the artist of any objections to the album and how many days they have to re-record the rejected recordings.

Step 5: Decide if the contract will include an exclusive agreement clause

An exclusive agreement prevents the artist from entering a similar recording agreement with another recording company. An exclusivity clause is usually included in Recording Contracts to prevent the conflicts that occur when two production companies attempt to market the same band.

If the contract includes an exclusive agreement clause, state how many days, months or years the artist is prohibited from entering similar contracts with another recording company. The period of time needs to be reasonable, so it doesn't hinder the artist's career.

The recording contract can also include renewal options so the artist and recording company can continue making albums together. If the agreement contains renewal options, the artist should know that the choice is usually at the recording company's discretion.

Step 6: Determine how compensation and royalties will be distributed

Determine how the record company and artist will split the album’s net profit in a percentage. The total percentage needs to equal 100%.

The artist is also entitled to royalties if they write their own songs. If this is the case, specify the percentage of the minimum statutory rate the artist will receive. The rate is entirely negotiable.

A minimum royalty is often defined in statute but is typically reduced to 75% of the statutory minimum in a recording contract. Refer to your local laws to see the minimum royalty rate in your state.

Step 7: Outline the artist’s promotional appearances

If the artist needs to make promotional appearances to market the album, state in the contract:

  • The maximum number of appearances
  • The percentage of net revenue the artist will receive
  • The number of days the recording company has to pay the artist for an appearance

Step 8: Specify the contract’s termination details

The Recording Contract needs to specify if the artist has the right to terminate the contract if the record company fails to release their recording (also known as non-performance) by a deadline. If they have the right to terminate, the contract should state how many days, months or years the record company has to release the album.

Also, you need to decide if the artist can buy back the rights to the master recording if the contract is terminated because of non-performance. If they can, include the price in the contract.

The contract should also specify whether the recording company needs the artist's consent to assign its rights to a third party after completing the recording.

Step 9: Decide if disputes will go to mediation

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution where a third party assists the disputing parties in coming to a solution. The Recording Contract will either state that mediation will be used to resolve disputes or not specify.

The contract should also state whether the artist has sought independent legal counsel. If the artist chooses not to have independent legal counsel, the contract will have a clause stating that the record company advised them to do so, and they elected to pass on the option.

Step 10: Sign the Recording Contract

Complete your Music Recording Contract by signing and dating it. If you're unsure when the parties will sign the contract, a blank line will be provided at the bottom for you to sign at a later date.

You can also include a witness to the contract's signing. Although it isn't legally necessary to have witnesses, it's a good idea to have one just in case its validity is ever challenged.

The witness should be a neutral third party who has no personal or business relationship with any of the parties.

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