Those who are trying to break into the entertainment industry are often naive in the early stages of their efforts and are, therefore, easily taken advantage of by the people working at major studios and entertainment companies. They may sign contracts that leave them beholden for the indefinite future and that limit their right to control their own creations.
In some cases, an artist’s contract may allow a studio to force them to record someone else’s songs or might allow the studio to have other artists cover someone’s original works after they record a song and fail to make it popular. Even after artists manage to establish traction and develop a fan base, their master recordings won’t necessarily be under their control.
The company or label that owns the rights to their music may decide who can use that work. In some cases, the label that signs an artist may eventually sell the master recordings or masters of their works to a different label or possibly even an investment group. Does an artist have any control over their masters?
Some artists have protection
There are generally two categories of artists who may have options to take control over their masters or prevent the sale of their works to a different party than the label with which they signed a contract. Some artists negotiate contracts that are actually favorable for them and that give them some say in the resale or licensing of their works. These artists may be able to prevent a sale to an outside party if they take issue with the transaction for some legitimate reason and receive advance notice of it.
Other times, artists whose recordings have been around for years may be able to obtain control over their masters regardless of the terms of their contract. Once 35 years have passed, artists potentially have the right to file paperwork and reclaim control over their masters.
Those unhappy with a contract may benefit from help
Improving, renegotiating or contesting the terms of a contract with a music label or other entertainment company can be a real challenge for an artist whose skill likely lies in artistic endeavors and not in legal paperwork. Many musicians and songwriters might be able to improve their professional and artistic circumstances with appropriate support from legal professionals. Learning more about entertainment law and the rights to one’s master recordings can benefit those who want to regain control over their artistic creations.