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Contracts are complicated things. Music industry contracts, perhaps especially so. The recent digital revolution hasn't made things any simpler. There's a whole raft of different rights that need to be considered, and unless you're careful these different rights have the potential to conflict with each other, with the potential of causing considerable problems.

Then there are territorial complications. Very often, different parties own rights in the same work or product for different parts of the world. There may be conflicts between those different rights holders. And the laws and regulations of the EU have a lot to say about what you can and cannot do in terms of trade between member states.

It can be a veritable minefield, and you need the help of someone who is experienced in navigating around this type of situation.

Contracts can sometimes run to 60 or 70 pages or more. Or, alternatively, they might be no more than a single page in length. Each of these brings its own particular problems. The very long contracts need careful and detailed attention, to ensure that everything holds together properly, that there are no inconsistencies and that the contract does actually reflect the parties' intention. On the other hand, with very short contracts the problem is more likely to be with what it doesn’t say, and in those cases it is important to identify the gaps and to put in whatever you feel is needed to protect your client's position.

Clients sometimes tell me, variously: "I didn't bother getting any legal advice, because we were mates" or "They assured me it was a standard contract, and so I just assumed it was OK" or "I read through it, and the bits I understood seemed OK, and so I just signed it." Don’t take risks with your career. Take proper advice. It will pay dividends in the long run.

I've worked with, and against, some of the most formidable legal minds in the business but the most accurate and telling description of a contract that I ever heard is provided by the great Tom Waits, in his song "Step Right Up" (from the album "Small Change"), in which he famously (and caustically) remarked: "The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away…". It's a lesson I took to heart very early in my career, and in that respect I can honestly say that I've bought the T-shirt.