Work For Hire Music Pros: The Full Guide - Music Made Pro

· By Will Harken

Work For Hire Music Pros: The Full Guide

If you are looking to get your song professionally produced, you will most likely need to hire a few professionals along the way. And it’s smart to know what you’re spending your money on, ja? This article explains what “work for hire” means. Plus the advantages and disadvantages of using work-for-hire music contractors.




What Does “Work For Hire” Mean?

In the music world, “work for hire” means you pay the contractor an upfront amount and you keep full ownership of the resulting song or album. This also means the contractor doesn’t get a cut of royalties from the project.


In short: A work for hire contractor agrees to receive nothing in the future.


These days you can find pretty much any type of audio pro willing to do a work for hire contract. Songwriters, lyricists, performers, producers, engineers, etc.


👍 The Benefits of “Work For Hire”

Perhaps the biggest advantage of work for hire contracts: They are faster to get started.


Because there are no future royalties or issues with intellectual property, work for hire contracts are easier to negotiate.


You say “I’ll pay you $100 to do a thing” They say “okay.” They do the thing. You both go your separate ways.




The other big benefit for the artist is the scenario where your song becomes a hit. If your song happens to blow up HUGE, it’s good for you, because there will be one less person getting a cut of the pie.


Your work for hire contractor makes the same amount, no matter how well the song performs on Spotify or how many times it gets played on MTV.


That being said, a song’s commercial success is largely dependent on existing audience, marketing spend, and luck. And so many producers and audio professionals prefer work for hire contracts anyway.


👎 The Downsides of “Work For Hire”

Usually, songwriters/producers will charge a higher fee in a work for hire contract. This is because they are forgoing any future revenue from the project.


So you might have to pay more upfront than you would have otherwise. If you want to get a lower upfront fee, it might be worth negotiating with your contractor on a percentage of song sales.


If you are a bigger artist who is more likely to release a commercially successful song, the contractor may charge an even higher price. Because they know they are giving up more royalty money.


Another potential downside: if a contractor has no ties to the song’s future financial performance, they might not try as hard to make it a true banger. Sure, they may do the bare minimum to please the client, but they might “miss” that extra 5%.


Like I mentioned before though, there are a TON of other factors besides production quality that will determine your project’s success.


🎵 How To Find “Work For Hire” Music People

So you know you need to hire a music pro AND you know you want to use a work for hire contract.


One way to find potential contractors is to look at song credits. Say you hear a guitar part in a song and want to get the same style and sound. You could Google the credits to that song and find the contact info for that guitarist.


I'm biased, but I highly recommend checking out my music creation service. It's affordable + your song can be in any genre and use any voice. Be sure to choose "original music" and the "full buyout license" during checkout so you can use it for whatever you want!

Will Harken, Producer on SoundBetter

Another popular option is finding contractors on job sites like Upwork or SoundBetter. These sites usually have filters to help you find the ideal professional. Most sites like this are based exclusively on the idea of work for hire contracts. In the case of SoundBetter, you will need to establish that it is work for hire between you and the artist you’re hiring before you start the job.


If you find a contractor and aren’t on a job site (like SoundBetter), you can draw up a contract for both parties to sign. This Work for Hire Agreement will usually include the following:

  • A timeline for the project

  • Project milestones

  • Terms of payment

  • Other critical details related to the song or album


One thing that is nice about using job sites like SoundBetter: They make hiring super easy.


You don’t have to draw up contracts yourself. You just discuss the project and everyone pushes a few buttons when they are ready.


👉 Regardless of where or how the contract is being signed, be sure to get clear on what you are paying for FIRST. Are you paying $1,000 for everything that needs to happen? Or are you paying $1,000 for the producers fee? Those are very different things.



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