How much does it cost to draft a recording agreement for an indie label?

February 4, 2013

Dear Music Lawyer,

I'm doing a masters course in Music Industry Management and need to do a budget for one of my modules. I need to get a vague idea of how much it would cost a lawyer to draw up & negotiate a fairly simple artist-independent label contract on a 50/50 net receipts basis.


Dear Frances,

It's very tough to give fee estimates without a better idea of the scope of the agreement (e.g., 360 deal? co-publishing? tour support? advances?).

For purposes of your project, I would say $500-1500 for drafting a net profits split deal between indie label and artist, but you could certainly get higher quotes. (I'd be surprised if you got lower.) Of course, the fee could change dramatically based on whether you're hiring a solo attorney or big firm lawyer; how experienced the attorney is; what part of the country you live in (L.A. and New York entertainment lawyers tend to be pricier, but that's not a given); whether it's a long-form or short-form contract; etc.

Also, many lawyers charge hourly for negotiation because you can't always anticipate how much time it will take to revise based on the other contracting party's comments. That's why I always encourage my clients to get the deal as firm as possible before having it drafted. It's sort of like writing songs in the studio. It's much less expensive if you go into the studio already having the songs written and rehearsed than trying to write the songs in studio.

Hope that helps!

—Amy E. Mitchell is maintained by experienced Austin music lawyer Amy E. Mitchell. Please feel free to ask any music law related questions. You will be notified by email when your question has been selected for response, and the response will be posted on this site.

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