One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve come across is
“can you be signed to 2 record labels?”
As a way of protecting their investments; Record labels do not willingly allow artists signed under them to go off and sign another deal with another record label. However, loopholes in the record contract can make it possible for artists to get away with signing to another label.
Signing to more than one label is quite popular in the Electronic Dance Music
(EDM) space where record labels are known to sign the songs and not the artist.
In this situation the artist has more options because EDM singles are record label driven,
therefore the artist can have different label deals for different songs.
What to look for when signing a record deal
It’s always a good think to go through a record deal and look for key things
that will affect your overall long-term career.
Length of the contract
The first thing to obviously look out for is the length of the contract,
you have to ensure that you’re comfortable being signed to the label for the
If the specified running length of the contract does not suit you,
then you have to make sure your lawyer negotiates a better deal for you.
It is not wise to run into signing a contract without going through it,
therefore take some time to go through it with your lawyer.
A release commitment is basically a commitment from the record label
stating that they will at least release one body of work (Album) during the
initial contract term.
This will provide security for you because you can easily walk away when the
record label doesn’t release your album even after having recorded the
This is one of the most important things because it will determine how
worthwhile the deal is.
Be sure to look at the royalty percentage that the label will allow you to keep,
most record labels will try to scoop a huge percentage especially from newer artists that have little to no notoriety.
Therefore it is very key to negotiate a good royalty split deal with the label from the get go,
have a lawyer negotiate on your behalf because it is much reasonable and less troublesome that way.
Make sure that the record label doesn’t stand to be better off than the artist
in the long term,
there should be a fair advantage for both the artist and the label.
You have to be smart when considering signing to a record label.
It’s always smart to read the fine print, better yet,
have a lawyer look through the contract because they will know what to look
for and will inform you and give you advise about the best course of action.
Traditionally a record label is supposed to recoup all its expenses before it can even pay you a cent of the royalties.
Therefore it is very important to look out for hidden fees or deductions on royalties.
Record labels may take advantage of you and try to sneak in extra costs that would mean a lot more deductions from the royalties generated by your music,
which would mean that you’d lose more of the royalties in addition to the
agreed upon percentage that the label will keep.
Therefore it is very important that you look for these costs and discuss them
with the label and renegotiate where necessary.
Why do rappers sign to multiple labels?
It is very common for rappers to sign to more than one record label and
they will mainly do that for opportunities that they think may serve them
best when they do sign to the second record label.
They could realize that the second record label is offering a deal that is way better than their current one.
Most record label deals will be very strict and will not allow the artist to sign to any other label;
this is very common because record labels will want to keep most the
royalties generated from the music.
Loopholes may exist as with any contract that may allow the artist to sign to other record labels. These loopholes will be however conditional.
For example the label may specify that the artist can sign with another label
to make a non-album which could be an EP or a mixtape, the record label
may also want to own part of that copyright.
With loopholes in recording contracts it is possible for an artist to sign to
another label whilst still being under contract with another label.