It is important as a record producer to understand that each situation is unique, and the relationship between the record producer and the artist varies greatly depending on the arrangement between the parties as well as the genre of music. Producers have traditionally been paid for their services as employees or as independent contractors, and their contributions to the creation of the sound recording in the studio are generally deemed to be a work-for-hire under the copyright law. As such, the copyright in the sound recordings is owned by the artist or the record label.
When dealing with recorded music there are two copyrights that may come into play under the copyright law: one in the sound recording and one in the underlying musical composition or song. Copyright vests in the creator as soon as the idea is "fixed in a tangible medium", so as soon as the author writes it down or the creator records it the copyright is created. In general, the creation of the sound recording in the studio is separate from the writing of the song. This is usually true in most cases (e.g., in the rock, country and folk genres) where the artist usually comes into the studio with the song already completed and the producer will just assist in creating a recording of the song. In some cases, however, the producer's involvement may cover both copyrights. For example, in urban and hip-hop music the producer who creates the musical bed or track (often before any artist or rapper is even involved) also becomes a collaborator with the artist who writes the lyric and performs the vocals in the recording studio. In such a situation, the producer and artist become joint owners not only in the copyright in the sound recording but also, by current custom in the industry, in the underlying musical composition. It is also true that in today's top 40 pop music many of the producers actually co-write the songs with the artists in the process of creating the hit record.
Keep in mind that it may, in fact, be in your best interest to "get it in writing" if you have an arrangement with someone. This is especially true in collaborative situations. Otherwise, you run the risk of a disagreement later over the actual terms of the oral agreement, and it becomes your word against that of the other party. That is not to say that an oral agreement is not a binding contract, but a contract is easier to prove if the terms of the arrangement are in writing. A simple contract may not necessarily require extensive involvement by lawyers. A contract can be as basic as an invoice, a receipt or a letter describing the details of your arrangement which is signed by both parties to the agreement: who is paying how much, and for what. However, at the end of the day, if you believe in yourself and your talents, give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and invest in good legal representation - all the successful producers do. Your lawyer can "translate" the deal and explain its terms to you, and then help negotiate more favorable terms for you as appropriate.
Hangi Tavakoli is our in-house established and professional music producer with more than 14 years of experience in music production, mix and mastering, recording engineering, live sound designing/engineering, lyrics writing and music arrangement. He has produced more than 800 and written more than 2000 published songs to-date, including some major hits in international scale.Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.