Why Some Musicians Get “Screwed” In The Music Industry (And How To Not Become One Of Them)

By Tom Hess

You probably heard stories about musicians being ripped off in the music business. Musicians complain about signing unfair contracts, getting paid too little or being otherwise “screwed” by companies in the industry.

Fact: most music companies do not intentionally sabotage anyone’s music career. This is one of many music business myths you must stop believing.

The opposite is usually true. It is musicians who “screw” record companies most of the time…not the other way around.

“But Tom Hess, aren’t record companies just looking out for themselves? Aren’t they simply trying to make as much money as possible?”

Answer: Yes, they are! This is EXACTLY why they gain nothing by “screwing” you or anyone else.

Record companies invest many thousands of dollars into your career when they sign you to a record deal. They assume most of the initial risk. Musicians (usually) invest little or nothing into the business relationship in the beginning.

It is in the record company’s best interest for you to succeed and earn more money. When this happens, they recover their investment and (hopefully) earn a profit. When this doesn't happen, they suffer huge losses.

Music companies want to invest their resources into musicians with a win-win business mindset, strong work ethic, ambition, proven loyalty and potential. Musicians like this become successful faster and help everyone around them earn more money.

“But Tom Hess, aren’t musicians often forced to sign unfair, one-sided contracts that only benefit record companies?”

Answer: Nobody forces musicians to sign contracts they don’t agree to. Record companies determine the amount of risk and potential reward from working with you… and set the terms accordingly. You can choose to agree to these terms…or not. Once the contract is signed, both parties must honor it.

Musicians who complain about being “screwed” by record companies usually:

  • Didn’t fully understand the contract they signed (their own fault).
  • Chose not to honor what they agreed to in the contract (their own fault).
  • Demanded more than they were entitled to (their own fault).

(If the record company fails to hold up its end of an agreement, this is easily resolved by legally enforcing the contract.)

How To Avoid Being “Screwed” In The Music Industry:

  1. Become the musician record companies want to invest money into. (Tip: music career training helps you do this.)
  2. Prove your success potential. Show record companies that you have achieved at least some success on your own. This makes it easier for them to say “yes” to working with you.
  3. Build your own power. Make your music career secure and lucrative before approaching record companies for a deal. This helps you to:
  • add more value to the business relationship
  • be less reliant on record company’s resources
  • negotiate more favorable terms for a record deal
  • have a lot of options if a relationship with a certain music company doesn't work out

Implement these steps to become the #1 choice for music career opportunities.

This music career article helps you learn more about the music business.

Learn how to make it in the music industry.

© 2002-2024 Tom Hess Music Corporation