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There’s nothing quite like being in a music studio when a great song comes together. Whether it be from hours of aimlessly staring at the ceiling for inspiration or from getting it right on the first try, creating something from thin air is an almost addictive experience.
When you’re in sync with another creative it’s so easy to lose track of time, and unfortunately, forget that at the end of the day, this is all still a business.
Talking about money and percentages on split sheets is something most established artists will want to quickly turn over to their managers to handle.
However, most independent artists often don’t have the same team to (hopefully) look out for their best interest when it comes to songwriter agreements.
I’ve spent the past four years songwriting, in that time I’ve come to realize that most of us didn’t sit up at night reading old case files and studying ASCAP guidelines. No, we too busy making music we cared about.
It’s for that reason I wanted to take some time and address the 5 keys tips for a musician contract that every independent artist must know if they’re representing themselves.
1. Beware of “Work For Hire”
When you are first starting out and have a thin resume, most managers will ask you to sign a “Work for Hire” agreement. This musician agreement basically states, “Hey, thank you for your help! Here’s $200, now beat it!”
I made the mistake early on of not understanding my rights to my intellectual property and signed one of these. I was just hoping to get an album credit and had no idea that I was entitled to royalties.
That song went on to do millions of streams and I was only paid once. Simply put, you deserve to get paid for your work just like everyone else on the record. Own it!
For more information on Work For Hire and what it entails, check out Copyright’s in-depth guide.
2. Changes In Composition
So the song is done, it sounds great and everyone is happy. You keep on living your life and a couple of months later you hear it’s going to be released.
You tell your friends and eagerly await the mixed and mastered version of your greatest work yet. You press play, and suddenly you’re filled with anger (or sadness).
This isn’t the same song you made, the melodies are different, the lyrics are all over the place, what the heck happened?
What happened was in your musician contract they included a provision that allowed them to chop up your work as they saw fit.
Unless otherwise stated, publishers can change the title, lyrics or music at any time. Make sure it’s amended so that such changes can only be made with your consent.
When you sign a “Work For Hire” you essentially give up all legal rights to your song. So, as we talked about at the beginning, stay away!
When you sign that document, publishers are no longer required to list you on the song’s credits. That is key for many reasons, one of them being, you want to get recognized for your work!
Be safe and include your credit in any songwriter agreement you sign. Besides, fun fact, if you do not sign off on a record, and have evidence you wrote it, publishers may have a hard time releasing the song anyway.
4. Song Royalties
If you are just starting out, you’ll hear the term “Split Sheet” a lot. Split sheets are the bread and butter of the music business and control the percentage of a song you legally own.
All songs are divided into a total of 100 points (50 for the production, and the other 50 for the writing). Those points are then negotiated and divided amongst the musicians, artists, and whomever they see fit.
It is imperative to make sure that what you are signing is what was agreed to. You are also entitled to receive song royalty statements at least once every six months after your songs have been released.
Still not sure what a split sheet entails? Check out Vydia’s article, Everything You Need To Know About Split Sheets.
5. Know Your Worth
It’s very easy to get swept away in the euphoria that comes from a big artist wanting to use your song. It’s validating and a reminder that your hard work is being recognized.
As exciting as this may be, this is where the tricky part comes in. Always remember that your talent is what got you here, and it deserves the same amount of respect owed to any other creative.
Get excited, jump up and down, call your mom, whatever! Just remember to come back level-headed and go through that agreement with a fine-toothed comb.
For easy ways to create your songwriter agreement and keep your work protected, download Quiktract to create legally binding contracts in less than 60 seconds.
Contracts and agreements can feel cumbersome and daunting. The stigma behind having to sign a freelance contract or agreement is overwhelming and immediately becomes a negative experience.
More often than not you have to sit in a lawyer’s office, drive to a bank, or have someone come and meet you just to have them cancel last minute. You are stuck with a stack of papers, filled with “sign here” sticky notes and legal jargon defining terms and actions that you don’t even understand. But go ahead, sign away!
Freelancer contracts and agreements should not be daunting, and better yet, they don’t have to be!
It’s time to remove the fear of contracts, save time and money drafting them, and get to work doing what we love most as freelancers.
A contract’s language does not need to be complicated or contain legal jargon. In fact, the simpler and plainer the language, the more easily the contract can be understood. Remember, contracts and agreements are in place to protect both parties!
We are here today to share with you the five things your freelance contract actually needs.
1. A Clear and Concise Title
Your contract’s title is so important! It is the first thing that either party is going to read, and it helps set the tone for what is to come in the remainder of the agreement.
2. Who Is Involved?
Make sure you are identifying each party correctly. If you do not spell out who is involved and correctly identify each party then the contract/agreement becomes obsolete.
It is important to address specifically who is involved and use proper names of those entities. For example,
“This agreement is between: Quiktract, LLC DBA: Quiktract & Harvest Pretzels, Inc. DBA: Harvest.”
3. Details, Details, Details!
Write out the description of your services and/or the results achievable.
This is the most important part!
Provide the full details of why the agreement is in place, the work to be done, and the result that are expected (depending on the agreement). Detail is key!
This is also where you should thoroughly define your scope of work. Your scope will work as an outline of what is (and is not) included within your freelance agreement that you can refer back to if expectations on either side change with time.
For more information on project scope check out the article, Project Scope on SearchCIO.
“Harvest Pretzels, Inc. DBA: Harvest will provide pretzels to Quiktract, LLC DBA: Quiktract’s employees the week for June 10 – 14, 2019, daily from 11:00am – 1:00pm for a celebration for all Quiktract employees. Pretzels will be distributed at Quiktract’s headquarters in Los Angeles, CA on the quad. Harvest will arrive 15 minutes prior to start time daily to insure they are properly setup and ready for the rush. Harvest will have six employees daily at the stand to man it. Harvest is responsible for setup and take down daily.”
4. All Dates
Whether it’s the date the contract was created, the date the contract was signed, or the dates that milestones should be hit, do not forget them. Dates are so important!
Not only does proving dates help keep you accountable and on track, but it helps the other party to plan accordingly, and minimizes confusion or false expectations of what is to be expected when.
Don’t let concerns about circumstances changing keep you from defining these dates. With Quiktract your agreements can be adjusted and signed off on in real time as these changes may occur.
5. Payments – The Nitty Gritty
Often payments are the reason why people seek out contracts or agreements.
It can be uncomfortable discussing money, especially if you are doing work for people you know personally. We all get that feeling in our gut when the topic of getting paid is brought up.
Money is such a sensitive topic but getting thorough details of payment is important.
Make sure to provide the payment amount, method of payment, timing of payments and how expenses will be handled.
“Quiktract, LLC DBA: Quiktract & Harvest Pretzels, Inc. DBA: Harvest, has a contract for one week – June 10 – 14, 2019. Harvest will provide 500 pretzels over the course of the week, for a fixed amount of: $250.00. Quiktract will pay Harvest $150 on the 10th of June, and the remaining the 14th of June at the wrap of the event. Both payments will be made with a check.”
Don’t ever let the stigma of contract scare you from providing the services you love. Resources like Quiktract help you create legally binding freelance contracts, send invoices, accept or request payments, and save the trips to the attorney’s office so you can get back to doing what you love.
Sign-up with Quiktract to protect your work and simplify the way you conduct business!
Don’t have enough freelance clients to write up contracts for? Check out 5 Tips For More Effective Networking For Freelancers; How To Get More Freelance Clients and grow your client base.
Networking is an interesting exercise. As freelancer trying to shake the right hands or leverage an existing relationship, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of putting yourself out there. However, one conversation or connection can put you on path to achieving all of your business dreams.
Some of us thrive off of meeting new people, and some are a little less thrilled by the idea. Whichever boat you are in, there are tactics and strategies you can utilize to help you not just exchange business cards but forge long-term, strategic and meaningful relationships.
As a freelancer, networking is your meal ticket. You need to be starting conversations with new clients, as well as nurturing connections for continuous work.
Below are 5 tips for more effective networking for freelancers.
1. Get in the Right Mindset.
We all want to connect.
No matter your hustle, we’re all just people at the end of the day. It’s really as simple as that. People want to connect, they may not always know how or where, but when they find someone and forge a bound – it means something.
Remembering this before you go to a mixer or out to a bar is the first step to creating a memorable moment.
Set yourself apart by saying, “I am going to meet some very cool and interesting people” and not “I am going to find my next 10 clients”.
Want to find networking events in your area, but not sure where to start? Check out Search Engine Journal’s 13 Awesome Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn for some useful platforms to help you find relevant networking events near you and get more freelance clients.
2. Have Your _____ Together.
As a freelancer, you run your whole operation.
This means your presentation falls 100% squarely on your shoulders. Be sure your website, portfolio, and even your Instagram are up-to-date and showcase your work in the best possible light.
Making the connection is one thing, but the gig usually isn’t yours until the client has done a little bit of homework on you.
3. Add Value.
It can be a dog-eat-dog world for a freelancer.
It is very easy to get consumed in only thinking about yourself and the bottom line. It’s important (and healthy) to take time to see how you can help others on their journey. It doesn’t have to be working for free or anything like that, it could be something as simple as offering insight or playing matchmaker with a potential client and someone you may know with a particular skill set.
Take some time to take the blinders off and help others succeed! Doing so without asking for anything in return isn’t only a kind thing to do, it can help strengthen your relationships down the line.
4. Get Social.
It’s 2019, people hardly leave their house as it is! Platforms like Instagram are a fantastic place to showcase your skills and network with other like-minded individuals.
Take some time to discover who are the interesting and most helpful voices in your field and connect. It is also the most direct route from A-to-B when it comes to sharing relevant information and articles that may help others.
For some more tips on how to network your freelance business on Instagram, check out How To Network On Instagram Direct Message by Gary Vaynerchuk.
5. Ask For Help.
Truth be told, this is a huge one for me. Some of my most important connections came from me simply asking for help from someone I respect.
Now, by asking for help that doesn’t mean “Excuse me, can you stop everything and mentor me please?!” No, it means something else entirely.
A sure fire way to set yourself apart from most of your contemporaries is actually by not thinking you have it all figured out.
“Hey, what do you look for in a designer?”
“What are some books on finance you could recommend?”
Simply put, find individuals you would like to work with and ask them for help. You will be surprised how willing most people are to shell out advice on a topic instead of listen to your elevator pitch.
Doing this breathes a sigh of humility and allows someone to have a more honest dialogue.
What are some other helpful networking tips you’ve received? Reach out and let us know!
To learn more about networking for your freelance business, read our relationship expert, Blake Stanton’s advice on building business relationships.
Maybe you are a college student selling old sneakers to make a few bucks? Maybe you are an aspiring entrepreneur who is tired of doing everything by the shake of the hand? Or maybe you need a dog walker and want to make sure all of your dog’s specific needs are met and understood?
Do any of these sound like you? I, at one point or another in my life, have personally been in all three of these situations.
Hi! My name is Blake Stanton I am a 27 years old African American male, born and raised in Southern California where I grew up playing basketball and football.
Growing up in the city you gravitate towards three things: music, sports or the streets. Luckily for me, my infatuation with sports came at an early age. I looked up to many athletes and aspired to be like them one day. Sports not only played a large role in my life, but also the community.
Over the years I worked effortlessly to become a decent athlete which led to my acceptance to Crespi High School. The thought of attending an all-boys school at the age of 14 was horrifying, but no amount of persuasion would change my mother’s mind about enrolling me.
Although I had my initial reservations, today I can proudly say, “Thank you. Mom, I cannot thank you enough for pushing me to be a Carmelite.” Being a small school (500 students) AND an all-boys school, I built genuine, lasting relationships with some amazing people. Most of the relationships I have today correlate directly back to Crespi, including the one I have with Cole Midkiff (founder of Quiktract).
From Crespi I had the privilege of attending the University of Oregon where I played four years of Collegiate Football, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Crime, Law and Society as the first in my immediate family to graduate from college.
Although my experience at Oregon encompassed some of the best years of my life, my freshmen year at Oregon was extremely tough. It was my first time being away from home, the weather wasn’t always great, and the town was small.
I was depressed, lonely and questioning everything in my life. Was a degree important? Did I even want to play football? I knew fundamentally that the answers were yes, but was losing sight of this.
I realized that enough was enough and decided to make an effort to put myself out there and meet others. I put on my “life of the party cap” and found myself building even more long lasting relationships, just as I had at Crespi.
I learned to love the positive experiences I was having at the University, and to better myself with the negative ones. Though I did not get the playing time I thought I deserved, I didn’t let that define me. Daily, I continued to smile and give it all I had. I knew at this point that being at the University of Oregon was so much bigger than being a football star (the more than an athlete mindset). It was about the relationships I was building and people I was meeting along the way!
When the dream of being in the NFL subsided, my passion for sports did not. Through a relationship I built at the University of Oregon I received a post-graduation internship in a Sports Agency. Being a young, black athlete I found it easy to relate and build trust with other athletes. Of course, being on the representation side is much different than being on the athlete side, but I found it extremely fun and rewarding!
Working closely with athletes, brands and marketing tactics over the last five years, I have seen a lot of success and even some failure, leaving me with countless lessons learned. I personally pride myself on being a leader, following the rules, while still be fair. I’ve quickly noticed from being in the industry that a lot of people have different motives and operate solely for their gains, which is not my approach!
Cole and I played football together when we attended Crespi – Go Celts! We were always more than classmates, we were teammates. We created a brotherhood that I knew was going to last a lifetime.
Almost eight years to the date after our High School graduation, Cole and I reconnected over our favorite pastime, Hookah. Cole spilled what he had been working on, and I was immediately drawn towards it!
Quiktract was exactly what I was looking for when I was selling those sneakers in college. It was exactly what I was looking for during my entrepreneurial stouts that were all based off of trust that the other would do the right thing. And it was exactly what I was looking for when I needed a dog walker for our new mascot Ryder the Bulldog!
Not only have I first hand experienced the need of Quiktract, but I have also seen those closest to me looking for this very solution, my mother included who constantly worked side jobs to make ends meet for myself and my siblings and prayed that the she was going to get paid for doing the jobs!
As I started to tell people about my excitement and love for this new app, Quiktract, it was quickly identified by others as another “tech thing”. Soon I was being asked if I was a “tech guy now”.
While, yes, it is an app and, yes, technology goes into it, it is so much bigger than just being another “tech thing”. Quiktract is a platform to help solve everyday problems, to help hold others accountable and to build stronger relationships instead of breaking them when a hand-shake doesn’t work!
And I am not a “tech guy”, I am a firm believer in living by the books and building relationships to gain success!
We hope to change the way we conduct business one message at a time, as we are real people, just like you, looking for solutions to gain control over what we can!
“The Relationship Guy”
I started Quiktract the day I saw a friend of mine get screwed out of $800. This was by no means the first time any fellow freelancer I’ve known has gotten ripped off, but for some reason this time it stung.
It felt permanent, it felt heavy, and must of all – it felt avoidable. As I sat there in his Toyota Matrix I knew this was a problem that could truly be fixed. The only question was, how?
My name is Cole and I’ve worn my fair share of hats over the years. Whether it was designing clothes or writing songs, I’ve always found my place nestled somewhere inside of the creative process. I’ve created things that I am tremendously proud of and equally also created things that make me thankful that there’s such thing as a “delete” button.
Like a lot of creatives in the freelancer industry, I’ve learned pretty much everything I know through a healthy amount of “trial-and-error” and YouTube tutorials. Well everything, except how to run a business.
The mindset of most freelancers (myself included) was always very interesting to me.
How was it that all of us decided to go at it alone, trudging through the maze of the business world, and yet hardly treated ourselves like the businesses we were?
We would find ourselves staring down the barrel of a 6th logo revision questioning why a weekend job has dragged on for a month; only to then wait weeks longer for payment that would then take 2 more weeks to clear.
The truth is, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. One of my favorite sayings ever goes like this, “what you tolerate, you encourage” and that just about sums up the woes of freelance life for me.
The even crazier part was how we would orchestrate these deals in the first place. Never mind tolerating the utterly ambiguous deadlines, the hazy payment dates, and the terms that would magically change. How could we ever expect this to work out?
What’s worse was sometimes deals like this would go off without a hitch, essentially just reinforcing this system. Stringing together two weeks’ worth of text messages to clarify things we could’ve made clear with a simple agreement if we both stopped being “cool” about it.
It was that idea of being “cool about it” that interested me the most during the conceptualization of Quiktract. As silly as it may seem, in the freelance creative world, most contracts have a stigma attached to them. They feel harsh, final, and reek of corporate America (I know right)!
It’s why Quiktract is all about removing that heavy-handed feeling. It’s never been solely about streamlining a process, but rather encouraging clarity.
This is what we strive for at Quiktract.
I want to live in a world where we all feel comfortable laying out the specifics of a job and know that we’re on the same page. I want to live in a world where if plans change we don’t send ourselves down a text conversation rabbit hole fishing for answers.
I’m excited for a future that looks like that, and I think we just might be on our way!
The last six months have been an incredibly busy time for the team at Quiktract and we’re excited to share that we recently marked a major milestone in our journey to make contracts and agreements easy. We’ve launched the Quiktract App on both iOS and Android for public use.
I am incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished, as well as their commitment to bringing a much needed solution to the marketplace. Service providers and buyers alike deserve contractual protection, as well as simplicity when transacting payments. They also deserve a platform and process that makes obtaining that protection easy.
While Quiktract 1.0 is only the first step in a journey that will bring additional functionality to service providers and buyers, we believe we have met our public launch objectives and look forward to garnering feedback from the public.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the team that has been working tirelessly to make the Quiktract App launch a reality. Start-up life is never easy and while we’ve had bumps and hurdles along the way, they have managed to execute on our plan and pull it all together. Quiktract is a first in the marketplace, and given its never easy to carve such a new path, our team deserves a lot of credit for reaching this milestone.
As noted, Quiktract 1.0 is only the first step in a journey that will see additional functionality added to the platform throughout 2019. Working with clients to obtain feedback, innovate and build quickly, we hope to grow the Quiktract App and its value proposition over the coming year. Productivity tools, provider search utilities and document management are just a few of the things users will see added in 2019.
We invite you to provide feedback and suggestions as you use the app to help us continue this journey, refine these future features, and build upon a value proposition that can assist upwards of 200 million Americans annually. Working together with our users I am confident our community and team can grow the platform in a way that helps the ever-growing solopreneur community.
Lee Midkiff, CEO