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Recording (production) agreement

author/source: Geoff Caesar
(c) Holly Jade O'Leary

A short-form agreement between an independent company and a group for the production of recordings. Under the agreement, which is drafted primarily from the point of view of the production company, the group provides exclusive recording services to the company, which produces the recordings and pays for recording costs in return for the right to license the recordings to third party record labels.

Alinea Law Members can download the template agreement here:

Types of recording agreement

There are two main types of recording agreement in general use in the music industry:

  • A "label agreement" with a major record company which will distribute and market the records itself. This type of recording agreement is with a company which already has a distribution network in place and intends to market the records itself. A label contract is the more traditional of the two types of recording agreement, with the record company being categorised either as a major (currently, Sony, Warner Music or Universal, or any of the majors' imprint labels) or an independent label. Over recent years record labels have also started offering label service arrangements as an alternative to the traditional exclusive recording agreement.
  • A "production agreement" with an independent company or an individual. With labels undertaking less and less development the onus of production has fallen to the artist, their manager and producers. This has lead to the evolution of a different form of recording agreement, also known as a production agreement. In a production agreement, the company or individual with whom the artist is contracting has no intention to market or distribute the records, and only intends to produce them, although it will then try to license them to third party record labels who will market and distribute them. This type of agreement is typically used where a manager wants to extend its involvement in one of its artists by recording albums for them, or where an entrepreneur wants to get involved in producing recordings. Initially, there was some considerable stigma attached to these agreements, which were seen as either an overreaching position for a manager to take, or an unnecessary elevation of the status of the producer. However, with record labels no longer investing in the development of artists on the same scale as in the past, the financial burden imposed on managers and producers has made these agreements commonplace.

The agreement available for Alinea Law Members below is a short form, as there is an overwhelming preference to use a short-form template and avoids lengthy negotiations.

Wording to add, particularly where the agreement is entered into with a manager

Where the agreement is being entered into between the group and a manager (or management company) who want to produce recordings, the following wording should be added before the sentence that reads, "This agreement has been entered into on the date stated at the beginning of it":


The manager is assumed to have a relationship of trust and confidence with the artists and, as such, undue influence may operate here. The addition of this wording is to try to avoid any arguments regarding undue influence, by clearly advising artists to seek independent legal advice.


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