What you're talking about is basically a "spec" deal... which to some means "speculative" and to most means "doan spec to get nuthin' out of it". A spec deal is an investment of your time, your effort and your energy into an act/artist with no resources to get their work recorded... so you're putting up your time [and time is money] to build product for them [hopefully saleable product].
Now if you took that time and put it into a paying gig you'd end up with ___, and if you took ____ and invested it in the stock market you would expect a return on your investment.
In the world of stocks and bonds there is this thing called "bond ratings" which reflects the level of risk attached to the investment. A "AAA (triple A)" rating being the lowest risk, a "B" rating being a higher risk. A "spec" deal is sort of like a "double Z minus" rated investment. It's basically throwing your money into a pit and lighting it on fire... but, if that causes an atmospheric condition that makes rain that falls on the crops in your field and you have a nice harvest... then it was worth the time investment. The odds of this are between slim and none.
The artist has to understand that they are not entitled to your hard work and effort and that this is now a collaborative investment. The artist has to understand that you are bringing your tools, skills and talents to the table combining them with the artists tools, skills and talents in the hope that something comes of it [which most likely nothing will].
With that said... it is now time to come to an agreement with the artist. That agreement can take many forms. It can lay out the way Jules suggested, it can be more of an "equal partnership" [with or without an expiration date], it can be a lot of things. The level of your involvement will have to be commensurate to your compensation should something go terribly wrong and you have a record that actually sells. Are you going to be co-writing? Arranging? Part of the "branding and marketing" process? ... or just the guy that takes variations in air pressure and translates them to magnetic pulses, stores those pulses in binary code to be combined with other magnetic pulses later on which can then be turned into a more complex set of variations in air pressure that somebody might want to hear? [in other words are you just a fader jockey].
Once you've established your role in the process and established how you will be compensated should there be any actual fruits for your labors, you sit down with a couple of lawyers [you with yours, the artist with theirs] and jot down the terms to which you've agreed. You will spell out what is expected of you and expected of the artist, you will spell out the compensation for your services as it applies to the compensation received by the artist should their product generate income [which is seriously doubtful... so in many ways you're playing with "Monopoly money"].
The idea of a contract is that it defines the agreement in the best of times and will only come into play should there be a dissagreement in the worst of times. FWIW, of all the 'spec deals' in which I've been involved the easiest "negotiation" was when the artist [with their lawyer] and me [with my lawyer] sat down in a room for like 4 hours [at a little over $800/hr.; the cost of the two lawyers] and hammered out a deal. It beat the shit out of the month of paper being sent back and forth with this little point and that little point [I want 30% of merchandising... fukk you, I'll only give up 15% of merchandising] driving a wedge between me and the artist.
You sit down like men, have the lawyers raise this point and that point and this point and that point at which point you and the artist agree face to face on what's going to happen should the shit sell... and then you move on to creating the product. The lawyers can generally tell you what's standard, you and the artist can figure out whats "right" for this situation and you get the fukking contract bullshit the hell out of the way.
Sometimes just having a set of rules as Jules outlined is the way to go... me, I prefer to take it on a case by case basis but to get the paper work out of the way as quickly and painlessly as possible. To me, the paperwork part has always been the bitch... but it's a necessary evil. My ass still hurts from some of the financial sodomy I've experienced from 'spec deals'... and there is no way in hell I'll ever do another without hard and firm paper at the head of the project.
I know this meandered a bit off topic... but what the hell... it didn't cost you nothin' but time.
__________________ CN Fletcher Professional Affiliation
ngineer and P
roducer forums mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid
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