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How Can Rappers and Producers Make Sure They Get Paid and Avoid Being Scammed?

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In recent months, artists across the industry at every level have been embroiled in controversy surrounding payment and compensation—including Chance The Rapper and J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, Chicago rapper Lucki, rapper Smokepurpp, and New Jersey producer Ronny J.

In an effort to turn these unfortunate events into a teachable moment, we reached out to two entertainment lawyers—Kamal A. Moo and Erin M. Jacobson, Esq—to get their expert opinions on how artists can avoid being taken advantage of. We do have to clarify that these comments are not legal advice, and do not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader.

Starting with the basics, Moo explains that “to have a valid contract, you just need an offer, acceptance, and consideration,” which Jacobson helps to define as “something in exchange, like payment.” Moo also confirms that any agreements made over Twitter DM or through an email exchange have the potential to be as legally binding as a contract. The problem, they both note, is how much of these agreements can be left up to interpretation.

Moo specifically states, “For example: when must the producer turn over the tracks? Does the producer need to deliver a ‘tracked out’ version of the beat or just a two-track version? How will the music publishing rights be apportioned? Who will own the copyright to the sound recording? These are all important questions that should be addressed.”