Artists Need to Know More About Record Deals to Avoid Signing Bad Ones

Emily O'Connell

The goal for new artists emerging in the music industry is the chance to sign a record deal. However, in the excitement of the opportunity artists may not realize they’re signing a bad deal. In order to be more informed, you need to research to know the positives and negatives of record deals.

In the past month, Lil Pump has voided his contract with his record label, Warner Bros., because the deal was made when he was a minor. Initially when he signed the contract, he received around a $350,000 advance with the opportunity to make $500,000 — he was required to produce five albums with 14 tracks each. He also reportedly would have received 15% of album sales and a percentage of his merch (nothing to brag about).

But now with his single, “Gucci Gang,” reaching №3 on the Billboard Hot 100, he has offers from other record labels for reportedly as high as $12 million. Gucci Mane even dropped a comment on one of Pump’s Instagram posts telling him to name his price. Lil Pump is currently meeting with his manager to go through the offers to find the right one for him.

Look at my neck shynee 🌟

A post shared by Lil Pump Jetski (@lilpump) on

Via Instagram / Lil Pump

Lil Pump’s mistake of signing too early and not realizing his worth is something that can easily happen in the music industry. When you are a new artist and a record label approaches you with a deal and an advance of cash, it can seem like the greatest thing in the world. As Lil Pump learned though, it can be costly (to the tune of millions of dollars) to commit to a label too early. You may receive more money elsewhere if you be a little more patient and wait until you make a solid break into the industry.

Right now, people can’t decide what Lil Pump’s net worth is. Some sites are reporting it is about $150,000 while others are reporting over $4 million. Whatever the numbers are, it’s certain that he is making money and that the $350,000 that he received up front in his record deal is no longer worth anything to him if he can continue to become popular and make money with his newfound stardom.

One thing the Miami rapper should have taken into consideration was the money to be made from performing. The top-earning artists all make at least 75% of their money from touring. Along with merch sales, concerts and appearances are a lucrative way for artists to make money. They bring in both ticket and merch sales and they’re also a way to advertise their brand. Even opening for bigger artists is a way to expand your brand recognition and build a fanbase.

Lil Uzi Vert also recently shared his displeasure with certain record labels via Twitter.

“If you do sign to a major don’t sign to a rapper or a DJ. It’s just easier when the time come for the fake sh*t.” said the “XO Tour Life” rapper.

Uzi is a multi-platinum selling artist signed to DJ Drama and Don Cannon’s label Generation Now and Atlantic Records. It’s not surprising that Drama had something to say after seeing Uzi’s tweet, though the young rapper claimed to be simply giving advice to young fans.

Yet, with the recent explosion of social media and “being your own brand” some artists feel they don’t need a label to succeed. Chance the Rapper has promoted himself using streaming services and creating his own brand. Last year after he won a number of Grammys, his streaming numbers went up over 200% and his album, Coloring Book, was the first streaming-only album to win any awards. In this day and age, he has proven that artists just need good music and determination to break into in the music industry.

Above all, artists need to understand that a contract is a contract and that it needs to be treated with respect – obviously that goes for both sides. When looking at prospective record labels, artists need to make sure that the terms are fair for their present situation as well as their future goals. If you or someone on your team finds something they disagree with, understand that terms can be negotiated. If a record label really wants to be able to sign you because they see your value as an artist, then they’ll work with you on a mutually beneficial deal.

Know your worth. Leverage your value.