Michael Sweet reveals what he “learned the hard way” about recording agreements

Photo by Rob Ellis

Michael Sweet reveals what he “learned the hard way” about recording agreements 

Stryper frontman Michael Sweet has provided some helpful insights to up and coming musicians with respect to what he has learned about recording agreements.

The following message was posted on Sweet‘s Facebook page earlier today:

Photo by Rob Ellis

“To all the up and coming musicians out there who aren’t really sure what to give up or what to draw the line on in a recording agreement.

Well, I’ve learned the hard way and here’s what I think:

1 – Don’t give up your publishing. Labels will ask for it and it may even be a deal breaker but technically and legally you own it and you should continue to do so. They have no right to ask IMO. If they do (and they will), consider making it a separate deal. A publishing deal. If you do a deal on your publishing, make sure they can deliver by pitching your songs to film, tv, other artists. If they’re helping to generate money and earn you money based on YOUR songs then a pub deal may be worth it. Bottom line – don’t just “give” your publishing away.

2 – Don’t give up your Merch percentages. Most labels now a days will ask for that but it’s not really theirs to take. Fight to keep that. Even if it means walking away for the “deal”. At the end of the day, your merchandise can save you on a rainy day. It can keep you going during tough times.

3 – Never underestimate your value. If you have a large following and have built that into something solid, that holds a lot of value. So, make sure your advance represents that. Don’t settle for a slap in the face. You may not realize it at the time but later on in life you will regret “giving” yourself, your band and your music away. No regrets.

4 – Don’t sign your life away. Most labels will ask for a multi album deal. That’s fine as long as it’s not too many options. 1 or 2 options is generally a fair request. Anything more than that you may want to reconsider.

I’m sitting here having a cup of coffee and I was just thinking about how many bands get taken advantage of. I got so tired of it back in 1998 that I turned the tables and released my own album and shipped it from my basement for a year. I sold over 30k copies on my own and then labels were calling me. My point?

You’re in control before you sign a deal. Once you sign the deal you give up much of that control. Sometimes it’s worth it, other times it’s not. Don’t give away too much. If you already have, once you’re deal is “expired”, do things on your own. Build your own empire and if you’re smart, hard working and aggressive you will be very happy that you followed my advice.

Stay positive, remain patient and write, record and release your best. Never compromise the quality of your music, your art. Many thoughts and prayers to all of you out there pursuing music. It’s a tough world but if you’re doing what you love and able to make ends meet in the process, that’s an amazing accomplishment.

Just thought I’d share a few tips to all my music friends. Love and respect!