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Can my record company pay commission to singers/rapper?

Saginaw, MI |

I run a independent record company and my label wants to pay a commission to anyone that agrees to record some songs for my label. Can my label assign them stage names as part of the agreement, so my label can retain the rights to the stage names and all?

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Best Answer

Yes, your record company (label) can own stage names and retain them contractually. It would be useful to also register these as service marks at the USPTO to further establish your ownership and gain added presumptions and enforcement rights, and five years later you might with pleasure be able to make these rights legally "incontestable". Use an IP attorney to assure this is done properly each step of the way and that you are ready at a moment's notice to go after and stop any performer that continues using the assigned stage name after jumping to another label.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


I've read your question three times now and still don't know what you're trying to say.

I think you work for a record company. The company's management wants to pay people to record some songs. So far, all's well. The company also,however, apparently wants those people to record the songs under false names and for the company to "own" those names.

So, for example, Bob Smith records the song Hallelujah but does so, pursuant to a contract with the company, as Guiseppie Fitapaldi. Can the company then hire someone other than Bob Smith to record other songs as Guiseppie Fitapaldi? I see no reason why not.

If this question is anything other than mere curiousity you need to speak with your own intellectual property attorney -- and explain the situation with a whole lot more clarity.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.


I'm with Mr. Ballard (except that I had to read your question 4 times ;-) ). You *can* do certainly this -- after all, that's how The Archies came about.

I can't tell from your question if you want the performers to be nameless and faceless anonymous folks that don't tour or perform live but merely record for you. But just make sure you go to a good entertainment lawyer and get a really good agreement so that everyone's rights and obligations are spelled out. For example, are you hoping to keep the artists from recording and performing elsewhere under their own names?

Really think this through business-wise. From a marketing standpoint there is benefit in recording people under the names that they want to use and can own so that you can have a hand in developing the talent and the financial benefit that comes from doing so.

If my answer was helpful to you, I would appreciate if you would mark it either "helpful" or "best answer" if you feel that applies, as AVVO gives us rating points based on feedback. Thank you! Please note that the above answer is not to be construed as legal advice. It is my personal opinion based on your question, and it was given without obtaining the detailed information that I would normally request in order to render comprehensive legal advice. I advise you to consult with a local attorney of your choosing to obtain specific legal advice. The fact that I answered your question does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and me.


Recording artists don't work for "commissions." If they write the songs they perform, they get mechanical royalties from the label, in addition to the artist royalties they get for performing.

As for stage names, those are referred to as "PKA," professionally known as , and sometimes their registered for trademarks for live performance services, as well as for products such as clothing, posters, and other "merch." While a label could own the right to refer to the artist as "exclusive recording artist of XYZ label," generally recording artists already have a PKA and won't want any other name "assigned" to them. I also don't know why any label would want the rights to these PKAs.

I suggest you consult a music lawyer to accomplish your label's goals.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


To do what you are attempting you should hire the artists as 'work-for-hire' artists. This way your record label can reserve all rights in the work produced.

Good Luck

This answer does not constitute a legal consultation, or definitive answer, nor does it establish a lawyer client relationship. Each case, controversy, or situation is factually different and requires particularized evaluation.

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