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Leveling Up Your Music Brand

The CAB Portal blog provides articles on tricks of the trade and best practices, as well as news, interviews, artist showcases and recommended products/services, that emerging artists can utilize to take their music brand to the next level of success.



Is it a DOPE Collab or a NOPE Collab?

Photo Credit: Curtis Potvin

Photo Credit: Curtis Potvin

Collaborations are a great way to expand your fan base and challenge your artistic comfort zones especially if you’re stepping outside your typical tempo or genre. To make sure that you’re going to have the best experience possible, you owe it to yourself to make sure that you’re working with like-minded people (ie business minded).

The music business IS a business, even when the goal is simply exposure. Remember that even non-profit businesses have rules, so just because there’s no money involved doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a contract in place. In Hip-Hop (and probably other genres) there are three types of collabs that will give you the best experiences.

Flat Rate Verse Collab

This is where you get an artist who is a little (or a lot) more famous than you to appear on your project for a fee. In this situation you might enter into a collaboration agreement or a works for hire. Either way, you need something in writing stating that the flat fee is all they expect to get paid for the project (or whatever terms you all agree to), so that if the track does well you aren’t being sued later for royalties. This type of collab is usually the least complicated.

Split-Sheet Collab

This is where all artists agree to get paid a specific percentage and will include the same information as a collaboration agreement; however, split-sheets make the project easier to register on BMI or ASCAP because it will also break down the exact specifics of percentages that these sites require to register your works.

Promo Collab

This is where all artists understand the project is for promo only and there is no money expected to be made. A basic collaboration agreement stating that the project is for promo only should suffice and parties can sign with Docusign to facilitate the process. A promo collab would be like appearing on a heavily promoted un-monetized SoundCloud track or a free-to-download mixtape track that will not generate revenue – but introduce you to cities where listeners never heard of you. Tracks like these are also usually on free or industry beats (unofficial remixes, challenges, etc). This is a situation where you’re getting exposure only, but you never know who is listening, so still give it 1000%.

If someone refuses to get on paper with you, they may not fully understand the business. In-writing doesn’t mean inflexible. Artists may often find themselves amending a Promo Collab into a flat rate verse type or Split Sheet type if they see the project is doing well or they opt to purchase exclusive rights to the instrumental of the project. The idea is to get used to handling business first so that you’re having DOPE experiences instead of NOPE experiences.