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MU and FAC publish guidance for collaborating musicians on rights and royalties

By | Published on Thursday 17 June 2021

Featured Artists Coalition

The Musicians’ Union and Featured Artists Coalition have published new guidance for artists who are collaborating on recordings, to help those collaborators understand and agree what copyrights are being created, who is cut into those rights, and what royalties everyone can expect to receive. The aim is to ensure that when guest vocalists and session musicians work with other artists on recording projects, everything is clearly set out in terms of rights and royalties.

Traditionally a label would often be involved in organising such collaborations and recording sessions, and would usually take responsibility for defining everyone’s roles and rights, usually relying on the template session musician agreement negotiated between the MU and record industry trade group BPI. However, today it’s much more common for producers, artists, guest vocalists and session musicians to collaborate without the involvement of a label.

The new guidance has been put together with the help of MU member and FAC Artist Ambassador Kelli-Leigh, who says: “The world of dance and electronic releases, laced with feature vocals, has grown exponentially in recent years. With over 60,000 songs a day uploaded to streaming platforms, there is increasing demand to find the perfect vocal topline or hook to create that potential hit”.

“I have received so many messages from singers being approached by producers for vocals, without any knowledge of how the process of releasing works”, she adds. “Without clear guidance or good management, it can be a minefield understanding what is the right and best thing to do. I myself, a former session singer, only started learning and understanding the releasing process when I heard my voice on two UK number one hits in 2014”.

“Earlier this year I was approached by the Musicians’ Union to develop a guidance document for singers, based on my experiences”, she goes on. “This guidance seeks to make the world of feature vocal recording clearer, in turn creating better protocol and industry standard practice. I’m really pleased to have this document published in conjunction with the MU and the Featured Artists Coalition, which will arm singers and producers with better knowledge on engaging in session, vocal and featured artist work”.

Commenting on the publication of the new guidance, Sam Jordan at the MU says: “Making sure musicians are equipped with the knowledge they need to agree a fair deal and know when to seek advice is essential in creating an industry where musicians are paid and treated fairly. We are really proud to have worked with Kelli-Leigh and the FAC on this new guidance for session performers and featured artists, and we hope that it will give musicians the confidence and tools they need to have informed conversations about their work and careers”.

Meanwhile, FAC boss David Martin adds: “Artists and musicians, particularly vocalists, are often unclear about where the dividing lines are between the various roles they play within the music industry. It has been a pleasure to work with Kelli-Leigh, alongside the MU, to produce this guide. Ensuring that artists have the knowledge to understand their rights and negotiate fair deals is at the core of what the FAC does. We have therefore been grateful to Kelli-Leigh in lending her extensive expertise to help to demystify this area and empower creators”.

You can access the guidance on the FAC website here.