continued from here.
Without any forethought, just about every artist or band believes they’re ready to be signed to a full-fledge contract.
If that truly was the case, management and labels never would have created what is known as “the development deal” or “development contract.”
Being offer a development contract means that they believe you got it, but rather than drop all the money for an album and otherwise fully commit themselves, they want to float a test balloon to see if the commercial market falls in line with their thinking.
Or, maybe you’re close to having what it takes, and under their tutelage you’ll soon be worth some serious scratch.
Or, they already signed an act just like you. Since your band is serious competition to the act they are just about to break (maybe even better, but they just didn’t spend tens of thousands dollars on you), having you out of the game works to their advantage.
Of course, if you do your own development you make yourself more bright and shiny to those looking to sign you: you have done the work and spent the money so they don’t have to.
So what is a development deal?
Well, it is vague and not standardized…so it could be anything.
It might be the funding of a demo to see how you work in the studio and what you might accomplish in a professional setting. This might include a sign or pass, and passing means you’re not obligated to the entity offering the contract. But, if they sign you’re obligated to pay them back in future royalties till they’re recouped. (This is just an example. As stated, there is no standard and any contract should be reviewed by your lawyer.)
It might be a ploy to vest in your career with no intention of doing anything beyond collecting a portion of your publishing or recording royalties when you sign with someone who can actually do something with your career. And, with this kind of contract you may appear less attractive to those who can offer the more beneficial kind of contract.
What can you do to make yourself more developed?
In short, think professional.
Familiarize yourself with professional gear, recording studios, recording techniques, pro audio, large stages, professional protocol, with as much time as you can possibly spend in those arenas (the “professional” arena, not the venue arenas…not that time backstage of those wouldn’t hurt).
Know the difference between an agent, a manager and a business manager.
If possible hire a media consultant. Garner some interview experience, and review the results. Try to learn the mistakes the amateurs make and avoid them. Learn how to drive the result of any interview in your favor and/or promote your CD, video or next show.
Have your own professional head shots and media kit assembled.
Chances are, if you’re in the position to get signed the label or manager may want to re-do these with their oversight: But you may have proved the fact that you are worthy of signing to more than a development deal.