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By Cyrus Rhodes - 09/21/2009 - 04:19 PM EDT

The Music Business is full of thousands upon thousands of horror stories of bands that have been grossly taken advantage of by carelessly signing agreements, residuals, split-sheets and/or songwriting/publishing contracts that take away so much of their rights. And what’s even worse, many of these companies are not even paying these writers (mostly kids) on what they are legally due. It's an absolute travesty and it is a growing trend (mostly smaller Rap and Metal labels). Most of the horror stories I've come into contact with involve an artist just sitting around and either not knowing what to do or being too scared to do anything or to “make waves” that might cause a problem with their so-called “hook-up” with the industry or company. And most of this is due mainly to a lack of knowledge & understanding on some of the most fundamental legal rights and legal fundamentals. I might add these so called contracts are designed to protect the artist’s best interest. Unfortunately quite the opposite is true and the end result can equate to you doing whatever, for whomever, whenever they want you to. Sadly I’ve seen good artists get locked into bad contract commitments that were both long term and painful. What’s even more tragic is there’s no easy way out of these agreements once you’re locked in. They can make you feel trapped for years on end. Take some time and read about what R&B band TLC went through a few years back.   

Music Law can be a complicated maze of lingo and verbiage that only a seasoned professional can truly understand. But if you an independent artist and you are at the level where you are being approached by either A&R Representatives or a label, you must get a legal representative that understands all the complexities of Music Law. A good music lawyer puts your best interests first and foremost to ensure you are not taken advantage of. Remember, this is a critical endgame process, and when done properly, protects your best interests. Besides when you say “Just contact my Music Lawyer” – it just sounds professional.  It may cost you a little extra money, but in the end you cannot put a price tag on what it will protect - you.

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