Record contract

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1904 Melba Record Contract
A sheet of paper called a record contract
Biographical information

Mostly the bottom of drawers, or pinned to a dart board

Physical description





A4 (210 × 297)

Chronological and political information

1894 (Berliner Gramophone label) to present


Record company, Loan sharks, Long John Silver

“A verbal contract is not worth the paper it's written on.”
~ Samuel Goldwyn on record contracts
“You're staying on the fuckin' label, Hare Krishna.”
~ George Harrison to Paul McCartney on his Apple record contract
“Just sign here, and here, and here...”
~ Satan on his contract for your sister's soul

A record contract is basically two or three sheets of A4 paper that a musician signs his name on. We could stop right there, but we haven’t looked at paragraph B on page 2 appertaining to clause 3 on page 1 that has a definite effect on the fourth paragraph in clause 7 at the bottom of page 2. In simple terms, the easiest way to read a record contract is to start like this: “Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…”

edit The reasons for wanting one

The basic reasons for wanting a record contract come in all shapes and sizes and often don’t fit through your letterbox, but the idea that signing a record contract will instantly dissolve all your problems is a little bit optimistic. You can curb these feelings by buying an inexpensive rope and keeping the “The Simple Noose Handbook” on your bedside table for possible future use. Teenage angst leads one into believing a record contract would be a pretty good thing, and here are some obvious examples:

  • Your first girlfriend at school left you for a boy with a bigger bra.
  • You finally found out what a Birthday cake was when your mother pushed one in your face when you were 18 and changed the door locks.
  • You love applause, because you are sick of people spitting at you in the street.

edit The band


Four professional head-shakers that failed to get a decent recording contract.

Forming a band to get a contract is a must, because session musicians only want to be paid in real money and not chocolate coins and beer, and are definitely not interested in your antique ceramic frog collection or your problems about bra sizes. You must find these things first:

  • Guitarist. He must be good looking, but not as good-looking as yourself. Suggest he grows his hair so no-one can see his face.
  • Bassist. They only have four strings. Best not to talk to them too much.
  • Keyboard player. Constantly eating pizza with one hand, and fondling their testicles with the other.
  • Drummer. Must say, "That were fuckin' good" and "Anyone fancy a pint?"
  • Roadie. Supplies all the alcohol and drugs you can take, and then calls you a pussy because you refuse to shag his fat ugly sister that can eat boiled eggs through a sieve.

edit The demo

To record your demo you have to find an 8-track studio with eggboxes badly glued to the walls and roof, which is hidden at the back of a slaughterhouse. Don't forget to take two cases of beer with you. You can pay with a drunken promise to slip the engineer some money when you are famous. Engineers in this type of studio are always pissed, depressed, and talk about death a lot, so he'll probably hang himself sooner or later. Send off your demo to a record company in a brown padded envelope and await a reply. While you are waiting you will slowly come the conclusion that Daytime TV is fascinating, and highly under-rated.

edit The record company

Letter with noose supplied

Classic letter from a record company: "I tried to contact you over the phone concerning them, but as you have an unlisted number, I was unable to do so".

After you have totally given up all hope and have graduated to making up stories for months about record company executives phoning you when you were on the toilet, the record company will contact you. This is to make sure you are off your guard and will accept anything that is put in front of you to sign, such as a wet fish or a bag of popcorn. By this time you will be so deperate you won’t know the difference, so it doesn’t matter.

edit The contract


A typical musician's reaction after receiving a lawyer's bill.

You show the contract to a lawyer so he can read it in two minutes, and then charge you for 7 hours. This is a waste of time, as 99% of lawyers are only good for weak handshakes, smiling at nothing and saying “You have nothing to worry about”, while feeding their piranha fish with popcorn and live budgerigars.

You will be invited to the record company to sign the contract. Take the noose with you, for later use. Good luck. (To be continued...)

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