The Importance of a Music Contract and Professionalism When Collaborating

The Importance of a Music Contract and Professionalism When Collaborating

Many artists, performers, creators and businesses decide to come together for business but somehow things don’t end up the way they had envisioned. Often, this is not due to lack of capabilities or field expertise but due to creative differences, differing expectations, money matters and relationship strain due to lack of professionalism.

Why is a contract necessary?

Many people prefer to stay away from a written contract and work merely based on the recommendation of a friend or colleague. We often trust our peers and believe that any conditions agreed upon during work meetings will be upheld by all. This is not always the case. Hence, the reason most professionals would tell you a written contract is recommended if not required in most commercial music endeavors.

When collaborating with one or more people for work, the written word is better than oral agreements and ensures that the terms for working together are clear and everyone involved is serious about the project at hand. This holds true, in the various entertainment industries, especially in music. Though, bonds are formed, promises of work exchanged, meetings conducted, and plans finalized, it is best to begin work only when you have a proper written contract signed by all parties involved. It’s acceptable, and the usual course, to start the personal and creative relationship prior to an agreement being signed just to determine if the two parties are interested in the other’s ideas, knowledge and skill.  But once two parties agree they want to “work” together, a contract outlining that relationship can reduce conflict later.

What does the contract include?

Contracts mention the type of collaboration you plan with someone and the conditions under which the work shall be completed. Contracts also include monetary terms and benefits, sharing of credit, copyright and distribution.

It may so happen at some point in the project that one or both parties feel that the project is not progressing the way it was supposed to. Include an exit clause in the contract so that anyone willing to break off from the collaboration can do so without causing much damage to the project or the other party involved.

The Importance of Professionalism

In the creative industry, the nature and manner of work allows for flexible rules and expectations. Collaborations, or even your own work may often be done based merely on oral promises or in order to help someone out. This can lead to creative differences, confusion over the terms of use of the music or recording or the failure to receive the proper credit. 

In order to avoid this, it is important to be professional in every aspect of work, no matter who you plan to partner with. While working with friends, if things go wrong or if either of you do not adhere to pre-decided conditions, it can spoil many personal and professional relationships. Respect timeframes, limit parties and celebrations to post-work periods, never disparage anyone in the industry and give credit where it is due. While it may seem impersonal to enter into a written agreement when working with another artist, or company that is trying to help the you, remember, this is a business. And the lack of clear terms between the parties can actually have the opposite effect of straining the relationship. This is why the process of solidifying the agreements of the parties into a written contract at the beginning will help the working relationship have a better chance of success since the expectations of the parties will have been addressed at the outset.

Even if a collaboration does not work out between you and other artists or a business, your reputation of how you work with others will still be seen as positive and effect who you work with in the future.


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