Everything You Need to Know About Record Contract, Publishing & Music Distribution

I am sure you are wondering what’s the difference between a Record label deal, Publishing deal, and Music Distribution deals. Worry no more we got you covered. Signing the right deals can be very challenging for the artist. Both upcoming or already established artists.

Here is a break down of Recording contracts deals, Publishing deals, and Music distribution deals.


A recording contract is a legal agreement between a record label and a recording artist.

Record label deals are mostly suitable for upcoming artists. But, most of the Nigerian artists sign International record label deals which I do not see the need to.

Record labels are very important in artists’ careers. There are so many advantages to a record label. To mention a few;

  • A record label invests in the artists’ careers. Most artists do not have the financial stability to fund their music production.
  • A record label helps with marketing and promotion.
  • The record label gives licensing deals. This is ROYALTIES. Playing, streaming or downloading artist music makes the artist entitled to money.
  • Distribution deals: this is not a record label forte but a good record label assists the artist in exploring options. A distribution deal is a contract between the record label or artist and a music distributor.

The top five record labels in Nigeria are Mavin Records, DMW, YBNL, HKN and Chocolate City.


A publishing deal is an agreement between recording artists and publishing companies.

Publishing deals are for artists that are financially stable. These artists can fund their music production thereby not needing a record label. Even record labels need to sign publishing deals for the artist under them. A publishing deal has its own pros and cons, here are a few pros.

  • Publishing companies build links with other artists, music directors and get them to perform or use the artists’ music.
  • Songwriters gain more from a publishing deal because the publishing company is about the song itself, not the artist.
  • The publishing companies make sure the songwriters get good deals ranging from the musicians, movie directors, to the advertisers.
  • The publishing company focuses on promoting music that is already complete.

The major publishing companies available are Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, and Warner Music Group.

Tiwa Savage is the first African artist to sign a publishing deal with Universal Music Group.


A music distribution deal comes in two forms that are very critical in the industry. We have “Physical music distribution” and the”Digital music distribution”.

The Physical music distribution deal is an agreement between the record label or artist and a distribution company. This deal enables the distribution company to make hard copies available without pirating the artists’ music. This way availability of physical copies of the artist songs is possible.

Digital music distribution is an agreement between the record label or artist and the distribution company. This way availability on all online platforms is possible. Digital music distribution focuses mainly on streaming platforms like, SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify and the likes of them.

The music distribution deal comes in handy for already established acts. Especially for an artist who needs to reach other parts of the world.

The advantages of a distribution deal are:

  • A distribution deal can decide to take on the record label and its finances.
  • The artist or record label gets to keep their royalties but pays a certain fee to the distribution company.
  • The artist or record label can choose to use one or more distribution companies.
  • Some distribution companies do not ask for fees but percentages off the artist royalties.

Examples of distribution companies are Apple, Spotify, Audiomack, CD Baby, Distrokid, ReverbNation, LANDR, and Tunecore.

In summary, all the deals are important in their own way. These are a few details you need to know about record label deals, publishing deals, and music distribution deals.

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