Why to sign a contract?
When a music label and an artiste or a band decide to start working together, either on project basis or for long term, doesn't matter, anyway they have to put all their agreement on black and while with signatures from both side! This is a must in this industry as most of the time the future situation is unknown and one or both party might change their mind(s) after a while based on the the upcoming results of their collaboration, so there is a must that everything be on paper to prevent any future problems!
What should be mentioned in the contract?
Usually the agreements between music labels and artiste/bands are covering any details and any possible events that might happen, financial explanation that which of the parties is responsible about the costs during the production and promotion process and what is the share of each party from the profit they earn, what are the duties and responsibilities of each party as well as the possibility of the termination of that agreement.
These are usually the content mentioned in contract but it still is pretty different from case to case!
What's a good contract for an artist?
A good contract for an artiste is considered as a contract which is not too long nor too short! Too long is those 10 years contacts and to short is anything below 5 years. So basically 5 years is a pretty good deal! Some might think 5 years is too long but never forgot that company is spending a lot of time, money and effort in producing and creating an artiste! Usually after the end of the 3rd year they start to generate income... So in best situation, in the following 2 years the companies can just recover the damage and after than whatever else is made is considered as profit! It's a pretty slow business for the music labels!
If you get offers for contracts shorter than 5 years, there must be something wrong because logically and based on how this industry works, the companies financially are not able to offer anything shorter than 5 years! Unless it's a project basis contract.