What Is An Artist Development Deal?Aug 12, 2021
Back in the early days of the recording industry, mainly before the Internet, there was a particular type of deal offered by record labels called an Artist Development Deal. Sometimes also referred to as a “Demo Deal.”
The idea of this deal was simple … If the label liked you but didn’t want to go “all in” on a full record deal, they would offer you an Artist Development Deal, which was basically a “let’s work with each other and see what happens” kind of deal.
But that’s not the case anymore …
What is an Artist Development Deal?
In essence, an Artist Development Deal was a complete win for the artist. (You in this instance!) They got the commitment of funds to form the label without having to sign away everything. But there was much more to said deals than most people thought.
The label often received a significant cut on live performances and licensing.
Artist Development Deals do still exist, but the infrastructure has significantly changed. Major labels are no longer paying to develop artists. Now, artist development has fallen upon the artist(s) themselves. And record labels only become interested when an artist has built up a significant “following” both on and offline.
So, now there is a whole new industry emerging in artist development, provided by small businesses, music lovers, and entrepreneurs. These “new” Artist Development Deals are coming from groups building legacies -- rather than protecting one.
What Does an Artist Development Deal Look Like Now?
New Artist Development Deals can be mutually beneficial and artist-friendly to downright exploitative.
Most of the time, the agreement entails the investment of time and resources by the “developer” in the short term, in exchange for a piece of the artist’s long term revenue streams.
For instance … In exchange for “developing” the artist for the next three years, the developer can ask for 15% of all revenues generated during the term and then another 10% of all “Sunset Revenues” earned over the ten years following the term.
Sunset Revenues are the gross revenues earned during the sunset period from all master recordings and compositions recorded / released during the term, in addition to any revenue earned from all deals negotiated during said term but received within the sunset period. Which would also include sponsorship and endorsement deals.
What are the Pros and Cons of an Artist Development Deal?
Signing an Artist Development Deal can be advantageous if the developer should open doors that otherwise would be closed to the artist. This could include things like providing industry contacts, booking shows, helping develop the live show, songwriting, image / brand creation, social media direction, and marketing help – just to name a few.
Now, the disadvantage of signing an Artist Development Deal is that the profits get split so the artist earns less than if they were to do everything by themselves.
In this instance, the artist would more than likely need someone along the sidelines to help with major development. It’s more of a question of “do you need it right now?”.
So, ask yourself …
- How can the developer help your career?
- What do they offer that you cannot do yourself?
If self-managing isn’t something you are great at doing, then we highly suggest check into artist development for sure.
Being prepared is the first step -- and that will lead to a great career.
If you are a singer and want to learn how to better your singing voice and or get your name out there … feel free to comment below or hit me up by dropping me an email.