Study of recording industry contracts still relevant

In 2002 the California State Legislature considered changes to California Labor Code Section 2855, which, if enacted, would have placed certain new restrictions on contracts governing the financial relationships between recording artists and record companies. The Legislature is considering changing significant elements of that law as they pertain to artist-record company contracts.

In a preliminary assessment for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Dr. Steven S. Wildman revisits a 2002 economic study that examined contracts between artists and record companies, and examined the outcomes for the artist and their recordings and the incidence of success, and previews an upcoming major new study of the modern recording industry and contracting processes he is conducting with Dr. Debra Aron.

Dr. Wildman found that for both artists and individual recordings, uncertainty regarding future success, or lack thereof, was a pervasive feature of the industry in 2002, and finds that these features appear to continue to characterize the recording industry. The upcoming new study will focus on features of contracting relationships, artistic success, and roles played by the record companies that have changed since 2002, and others that persist today.

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Meet our team


  • Steven S. Wildman, PhD
    Professor and J. H. Quello Chair of Telecommunication Studies Emeritus, Michigan State University