Your not a music professional if you haven’t been screwed out of money at least once. That’s par for the course and part of the learning process, but it obviously becomes a real problem if it continues to happen. Regardless of what end of the music business you work in, as an independent contractor it’s your responsibility to make sure that your covered business-wise. Here’s a “getting paid” checklist from the latest edition of my Music Producer’s Handbook that as relevant for musicians and engineers as it is for producers.
Before any serious work on the project can begin, there are a series of important questions that the client must answer about your compensation.
1. Who’s paying? Is it a record label, the artist or band, or an investor?
2. How are you getting paid? Will you be paid per song, on spec, by the hour, or with a flat fee for the project?
3. What’s your compensation? Do you get some money up front (an advance)? Do you get a percentage of sales? Do you get a combination? If so, how many points?
4. Do you get paid from the sale of the first unit onward? Or will you be paid after the advance is recouped, or even after the investor is recouped?
5. Will you get an advance? How much is it? Does it come out of the recording budget? If you can’t get it all, can you get at least half your fee up front?
6. Will you be paid on something other than music sales? Since sales are pretty minimal these days, can you get a piece of merchandise or publishing?
These questions may be hard for you to bring up, especially before even taking the gig, but they’re vitally important to getting paid for your hard work.
You can read more from The Music Producer’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.