Behind so many of the world’s most famous and beloved musicians, there is often a terrible contract. For decades, the music industry has found ways to get the most out of artists and songwriters, and while awareness of these practices has grown, operating agreements remain virtually a norm. Of the industry.
Artists like Kanye West, Young Thug, and Meek Mill have all spoken about the constraints and downsides of these contracts, but it’s rare that anyone outside of the industry can actually take a look at the fine print. Recently, however, rolling stone obtained a copy of R&B artist Summer Walker’s contract with record label/management company Love Renaissance (which is best known as LVRN). rolling stone asked numerous lawyers and managers to review the contract, which, among other things, forced Walker to relinquish rights to her master recordings and forced her into a low royalty structure for what a lawyer who reviewed a draft contract described it as “a somewhat undetermined amount”. of time.”
(Walker, in a recent Instagram post, essentially confirmed that these were the terms she agreed to when she signed the contract, but claimed her contract has since changed.)
Peter Scoolidge, a lawyer who reviewed Walker’s contract, spoke with rolling stone about the prevalence of these contracts and the power imbalances that allow major labels to get away with offering such questionable terms. But Scoolidge also addressed the changing landscape and expressed hope that the tide against bad business will finally turn.
“I think the difference maker is going to be upside and adopting new ways to do it,” he said. “More improved platforms, more intermediaries who can bring everything together and provide a good level of services to develop their image in the right way, distribute the music in the right way without taking 85% of their money. I think in the next five years, we’ll see some transformative solutions that turn the tables a little more, and I’m optimistic about that.