Record Contracts: Maintaining Creative Control in the Music Industry
Record Contracts: Maintaining Creative Control in the Music Industry

Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: November 12, 2018

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Creative Control in the Music Industry

When I was a securities lawyer I remember how hard it was to stay in control of my practice and my clients. Many days it felt like I was waging war. But who was I waging war on, I wonder now? And why? Let’s discuss how my situation was very similar to record contracts and maintaining creative control in the music industry.

Artists tell me frequently, and sadly, that they wish they knew how to keep the creative control over their record contracts. The artists are frustrated and scared- at the same time. I can see their perspective. The artist doesn’t want to lose their record contract. At the same time, the artist doesn’t want to lose their ability to be the creative voice behind their music and record.

What a puzzle. How frustrating. What’s the solution?

I find the struggle that artists face is the same struggle I faced all those years ago as a securities lawyer. How is that possible, given we are talking about two very different professions?

In my expert opinion, the answer has nothing to do with a specific profession. The answer has everything to do with your ownership of who you are and why you do what you do- in other words, your individual brand and purpose.

Every one of my clients, whether they are artists, lawyers, CEOs, accountants, etc, have the need to maintain control. I have at least two conversations daily with clients about the topic of control and their individual and business brands.

Why do we have to always be in control?

I’ve found the answer is that we don’t feel like we can relinquish control. We have trouble finding faith in trusting that the world can work in our favor if we allow it to do so.

What would it look like if we had more faith and stopped trying to control everything so much- from our careers to our record contracts? That’s a question I often discuss with clients and it’s also a question I work on for myself daily.

The obvious answer is that life wouldn’t feel like such a battle and struggle. We would relax, have less stress and have more fun in our professions. People would sense our ease and grace; our self-confidence and self-respect and they would respond in kind by allowing us to exert our influence and control more.

Seem simple? It is. But simple is not always easy. Why? Because the answer is so obvious you are going to try to make it more complicated than it is and the result will be that it won’t work for you.

Where do you start? Stop and consider that the answer can be found in first understanding with clarity who you are. For artists, I would ask you:

– Why did you become an artist?
– Why do you want to record this album?
– What are you wanting to convey about yourself with your creative voice?

If, as an artist, you can have deep clarity around these three questions, then you can have solid control over your brand without having it be such a struggle.


If you can answer these three questions, then you would exude self-confidence around your brand and music. You are not desperate. You have a sense of purpose around your art. With this self-confidence, no one would be able to take your creative control- they would sense your confidence and see you as more of a partner. They would then be willing to cooperate with you more.

If any of this feels even remotely good to you, then I invite you to answer the three questions above. Feel free to send me your responses and I’ll be happy to have a call with you to discuss it.

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