DiscoverTrapitalWhat Every Artist and Creator Needs to Know Before Signing Contracts
What Every Artist and Creator Needs to Know Before Signing Contracts

What Every Artist and Creator Needs to Know Before Signing Contracts

Update: 2022-07-15


This week’s special guest on Trapital is entertainment lawyer Karl Fowlkes. As part of his own The Fowlkes Firm, Karl represents entertainers across many domains — from music to sports to media, including hip-hop’s rising star, Blxst. He pulled double duty, not only appearing on the podcast, but guest-writing for the newsletter about the need for the artist contract to evolve.

In particular, Karl predicts shared equity between not only artists and record labels, but also with other parties like distributors or fintech companies. The days of record labels having 100-percent ownership of an artists’ masters could slowly be phased out over the next decade in favor of a split much more friendly toward the artist.

Karl also has advice for an artist, or any content creator for that matter, signing a new contract — LOMO. The acronym stands for length, obligation, money, and ownership. These are the top-line items creators should prioritize when inking deals, according to Karl. 

Karl has a ton more insights into how artists and creators can maximize their long term value, plus how deals will change in the near and distant future. Here’s everything we covered during our interview:

[4:13 ] The Future Of The Artist Deal

[5:50 ] Changes With Major Record Labels

[7:36 ] Will Record Labels Exist In 10-20 Years?

[11:20 ] Artists Wanting A Partnership, Not Signing 

[15:50 ] Karl’s Advice To All Content Creators Signing Contracts

[19:18 ] The Issue With Music Royalties

[22:42 ] The Hip-Hop “Middle Class”

[24:47 ] Building EVGLE Brand Alongside Blxst

[25:08 ] Blxst Partnership Status With “Major” Labels

Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSS

Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan,

Guest: Karl Fowlkes, @esqfowlkes, Fowlkes Firm

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[00:00:00 ] Karl Fowlkes If you're making $20,000 to $30,000 a month off music. I mean, damn, that’s pretty, you know, that's solid money. No, that's nothing to shirk off. And some of these people, if they were independent, they might not be the global superstars that they are, they might be a little bit more in control, they might have less obligations, and they might still be able to put out the music that they want to put out. And all that stuff sort of creates sort of a concoction of, man, and maybe I will be happier, maybe I wouldn't have to get fake teeth, get a bunch of gold chains. I wouldn't have to do that because I'm living a lifestyle that's conducive for long-term success. 

[00:00:38 ]  Dan Runcie Hey, welcome to The Trapital podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip-hop culture to the next level. 

[00:00:58 ] Dan Runcie Today's episode is all about the deals that artists sign. There are so many more options and ways that artists can level up and types of companies that they can partner with. It's no longer just the record labels. There's alternative finance options, their distribution platforms, and more. And I broke this down today with my friend and well-respected entertainment attorney, Karl Fowlkes. And he runs an entertainment practice called The Fowlkes Firm where he represents artists like Blxst, producers, entertainers, athletes, and more. 

[00:01:30 ]  Dan Runcie So I talked to Karl about his experience with this and what he sees as the future landscape. And Karl has this phrase that I think he needs to trademark, he has this phrase called LOMO, which is focused on the four key elements that artists should be focusing on when they're signing deals. The important thing about LOMO. And more broadly, this conversation is that this doesn't just apply to artists, look at all the different types of creators right now. There's so many deals that they're doing, there's so many opportunities from different companies that want to partner with them. And whenever those things happen, there are more and more contracts that aren't always set up in the easiest way for you to be able to understand and break this down. So we talked about that and where things are heading and how it really is shifting to a place where artists aren't just giving the keys to a big corporation to handle everything. Let's have them, build the businesses around themselves, partner with the different companies to fill in the different roles you need, and build up from there. This was a great conversation. I think it's really insightful for all the creators out there. So I hope you enjoy it. Here's my chat with Karl Fowlkes. All right, today, we got Karl Fowlkes with us who's back on the podcast from The Fowlkes Firm, you represent Blxst and a bunch of other artists. But we're here to talk about this guest piece that you wrote for Trapital, a really great piece about the future of the artists deal. So let's start at the top. Why did you want to write this piece?

[00:02:56 ] Karl Fowlkes  I think right now, you know, historically, there's, there's been a few players. And those few players are really just record labels. So it kind of pigeonholes what the what the deal is going to look like, you know, now, there's so many different players out there. Technologies is infused all through the music industry. So there's, you know, there's distributors, there's advanced companies, right, they're just trying to like, you know, model what they can give you based on streaming algorithms, you know, companies like beatBread, for example. And then you still got those major labels, they're sort of offering a lot of those services. So the landscape is so different, I think, because there's so many different parties and so many different solutions. I think the deal has to change with the times that we're in. And oftentimes, you know, what I'm seeing, you know, I'm not seeing, you know, those changed deal terms. And, you know, I just think it's something that we need to get ahead of.

[00:03:48 ] Dan Runcie  Yeah. And I feel like now you're hearing more than ever, people talk about ownership artists, whether or not they may have enough behind it, want to make sure that they're owning everything when they're coming to try to negotiate contracts. Do you feel like that's shifted the landscape? I mean, I feel like it's definitely improved the conversation around it, but do you feel like that's actually having an impact on the deals that are being made?

[00:04:13 ] <stro

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What Every Artist and Creator Needs to Know Before Signing Contracts

What Every Artist and Creator Needs to Know Before Signing Contracts

Dan Runcie