A production deal is an insidious arrangement in which an artist is actually signed not to a label, but to a sticky-fingered third party. In a July 31 Billboard commentary, "Whatís the Deal With Production Deals?" music attorney Bob Donnelly writes: "If I told you there are many artists who have signed a deal that, in return for little or no advance, provides that they (1) give up the administrative control of their music publishing and 25-50% of their publishing income to a company that never has been, and never will be, a true music publisher (2) give up 50% of their merchandising income to a company that never has been, and never will be, a real merchandiser (3) give up their recording rights for the next 14 years in return for a retail record royalty of only 3-5%-you would probably think I was referring to the dark days of the 50s when African-American recording artists were routinely deceived by white managers and record companies. While the days of cheating unsuspecting bluesmen may be over, Iím sorry to say the days of ripping off naive rappers and hip-hoppers is in its ascendancy. The only difference is that this time itís often black managers, producers, and record companies that are taking advantage of black artists." Donnelly also points out that "The production deal concept isnít limited to black music and seems to be growing into all other musical genres."
[from Rock & Rap Confidential/1999]
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