In your recording career you're likely to deal with a number of contracts with a number of people including ones with your band, record company and your publisher. Every contract is different. It should be drawn up by a team of solicitors specifically for you and the company with whom you’re entering into an agreement.
Contracts are invariably cause for compromise in some areas, but by knowing where your priorities lie and what you want out of the agreement, you should be able to avoid being taken advantage of.
You don't really need to sort out a contract with your band mates until you've decided to start selling your music or signed a publishing deal. As soon as you do though, it's vital you put the personal aside and do it properly. Sorting this out at the start of your career will help to ensure that, in the long run, everyone is happy and knows where they stand when certain issues raise their head (which they inevitably will).
Remember too that signing on the dotted line doesn't mean a smooth ride from then on, no matter how strong your contract may be. Plenty of artists have happily signed a record deal, only for things to get a bit rocky later on. Wiley recently got into a dispute with his record label over money and his musical direction, and artists as big as Prince have fallen out with their labels over the terms of their deals.
Just because you've released records and had some success there's no guarantee you'll stay signed either. Established acts like The Futureheads, Kelly Rowland and The Zutons have parted company with their labels despite having a fanbase and decent sales behind them. A good debut record and plenty of hype doesn't guarantee a label will hold on to you either.
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