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Old 2002-10-04, 05:30
Posts: n/a
Legal question: Hiring a vocalist to sing on your track.

I'm auditioning some people to sing on some tracks I've written and don't have a lot of money to pay them. Most of them seem to be willing to do it for fun and the experience.

If for some crazy reason what I've written does get signed by a label, how should I go about the business aspect of having a vocalist sing on it. I was thinking that I would tell them that they would receive credit in the song title, for example "song title featuring xxx" and also that they could use it for a reference for future gigs. I would also be able to pay a flat base fee for singing on it. I'm wondering if it's proper to give them a percentage of sales even though they haven't written any of the music and just sang the vocal part I've written.

Any feedback/suggestions/experience welcome please...

Old 2002-10-04, 06:49
gnorpf gnorpf is offline
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1
Re: Legal question: Hiring a vocalist to sing on your track.

I've once read a cool book that answered all those questions and many more. If I remember correctly, there are fixed percentages between singers, producers, composers and lyricists etc. Composers and Lyricists get the same cut, for example. Let me search for that book...

(browsing around....

still browsing....)

Oh yeah, here it is: "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" by Donald Passman. ISBN 0684870649. I can really recommend it.

Well, I'd suggest you say to your singers that there are fixed fees for such things and they will get their fair cut if you sign. I'm not completely sure about it, though.

PS: Amazon allows you to look into the first 25 pages for free...
here's the link
Old 2002-10-04, 08:00
zachwillis zachwillis is offline
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 0
Re: Legal question: Hiring a vocalist to sing on your track.

I would try and do it for a flat fee. It would be like a "Work for Hire". That is where a songwriter is hired to write a song for a flat fee. And that's it. The songwriter receives nothing more if the song sells 1 copy or 1 million copies. And really it's no different from hiring a session player. You pay the person to do a job and that's it. And if your song is sucessful, you are not obligated to pay them anything extra. Of course, the courteous thing might be to slip them some money to keep a good relationship. And gnorpf's suggestion regarding the Donald Passman book is a great idea. It's a book worth reading several times! Also, check out This is a great site for learning anything from how to put a press kit together to copyright issues to dealing with A&R guys.

Get Signed!
Old 2002-10-04, 10:01
evildru evildru is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 0
Re: Legal question: Hiring a vocalist to sing on your track.

totally agree i have experiance doing this and simply pay them a flat fee and work for hire it
Old 2002-10-04, 09:05
ontheone ontheone is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 0
Re: Legal question: Hiring a vocalist to sing on your track.

Write the lyrics yourself unless you want to pay out publishing royalties
Old 2002-10-04, 15:34
supersweeet supersweeet is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 3
Re: Legal question: Hiring a vocalist to sing on your track.

Your question seems to really be about what is "proper" or not. There's no right or wrong to it, just what deal u can make with them. If u offer them a small fee and a credit they can either accept it or not accept it.


Normally you wouldn't expect someone to get a royalty unless they were investing a proportionate amount of effort into making the song a success (not just making the song). By way of example, record companies consider that your average band contributes about 10% to making the song a success, so they pay 10% to them. From that the artists have to deduct recording costs etc.

Simple answer:

If all the singer is doing is singing, it would seem odd for them to get a royalty. That said, you have to strike a deal with them which is acceptable to both of you.


Sweet -

PS it's a commercial question, not a legal question.

Sweet v JFK - 4 Freedom - yawl chek i'
Old 2002-10-04, 17:50
Posts: n/a
Re: Legal question: Hiring a vocalist to sing on your track.

Thanks much for the responses, they've been extremely helpful.

Old 2013-03-29, 20:43
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platzangst platzangst is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 1,349
Do you really think anyone from 2002 would still be paying attention to this thread?

How do people come to read 10-year-old threads, anyway? Sure, I know you can go to the earliest pages, but why would you?
Hey go listen to my new album it's almost like music.
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