Newbie here.

I am looking to know how many ways can and do record labels screw artists ?

One way which I came to know is making an artist contracted exclusively to a record label for which he is given an 'advance' which is recouped by the record companies over-time.

Are there any other ways that record companies screw artists ?

One of the other ways which has been mentioned is 'royalty reduce' or 'royalty reduction' but does not tell how that works in practise.

For instance, I came to know that most of the royalties from streaming services and others go to record labels and a very tiny amount goes to the artist. Is this an example of 'royalty reduction' ?

Some of the issues I am seeing are shared on http://www.musiclawupdates.com/?p=4941

  • 2
    I think you may need to shrink the scope of your question. a) being signed to a record company has always been an exclusive deal, recoup has been standard since bing crosby, the dodgy one was 'recover' not 'recoup', where you owed them the money back even if you never sold one record.. b) 'royalty reduction' is what you do once a record has run its natural life, you dob it out to radio at reduced royalty, to encourage them to keep playing it. better 10% of something than 100% of nothing. None of these are 'screw overs', they are simply ways of doing business.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 6, 2017 at 18:42
  • Streaming services, on the other hand, are not affiliated with either the record company/publisher or in fact most PRS agencies. They set up, they make money, they try to keep it all. Over international borders this can be really difficult to enforce. The big ones are eventually making proper deals with the PRS agencies... at long last... & revenue streams are now starting to come through.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 6, 2017 at 18:46
  • Late thought - after that rant... if anyone thinks I ought to turn that into an actual answer, let me know ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 6, 2017 at 18:49
  • @Tetsujin - I have shared a link, maybe that will help.
    – shirish
    Jan 6, 2017 at 19:02
  • I skimmed the first half of that. It started exactly as I would expect, but then went into so much legal wrangling [& the famous company fall-out stories from the 90s] that you would need an army of lawyers to figure it out... which appears to be exactly what is happening. I'm a musician, composer & engineer/producer (now pretty much retired) with several decent recording contracts in my past & royalties that still tick through every year, but I'm not a lawyer; so that's entirely out of my depth/experience/expertise.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 6, 2017 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


Although it has been more than 10 years I can tell you the ways my label screwed me. 1) Spending a lot of money- they spend money to promote me and my music, but in my opinion it did not always lead to sales, shooting a portion of a video in the middle-east when frankly a parking lot would have sufficed...Im not sure how this helped anyone but they seem to love to run up a tab, you then owe all of this money to the label and can only pay it off with sales. Another way they spent money which I absolutely could not supervise..promoting an album in a country to boost its sales-when people joke that a song went platinum in Turkey or something-it is no laughing matter. The label will spend money (or say they did) for just such things and this too is added to the money they spent on "promotion". Sure does it help me in the end? I guess it could but you cant ever really account for such an expenditure.

In my case pretty much THE ONLY money I made that I could keep in the first 18 months was from performing, so you can bet I was willing to do just about anything to make a few quid. I think ideally you would want to be able to approve or deny expenses but I think this just wont happen. Hope this helps.

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