BusinessEditorial

What is the 360 Degree Deal? A/K/A the Slave Deal

biggie smalls 360 music deal

What is the 360 Degree Slave Deal?

One recent development that is becoming increasingly common is the enforcement of a label contract called the 360 Degree Deal, also known as a “multiple rights deal” or “multiple services deal.” Some have even called it the “360 Degree Slave Deal”.

The name derived from the record companies’ complete encircling of each of the artist’s revenue streams, revenue which was historically not included as part of the traditional record deal such as touring, merchandising, and music publishing. Cardi B just signed a 360 Degree Publishing Deal.

Essentially, under an active interest 360 Degree Deal, the record label and their artist have a special relationship that goes beyond basic contract obligations. This is where the 360 Degree Deal gets the name of the “360 Degree Slave Deal”.

360 Degree Deal

Stevie Wonder. Motown’s first 360 Degree Deal.

The record label assumes the duty of controlling and managing every aspect of the artist’s career. Under this type of recording contract, record labels retain complete control over an artist’s publishing rights, touring rights, as well as merchandising rights.

That’s a lot different from the traditional recording contract that only gave the record label the right to share in the income from their artist’s record sales.

Rights that once belonged to the artist under traditional recording contracts, such as the hiring and firing of employees, contracting with third parties, and decision-making involved with booking tours and merchandising products, are being assigned and compromised under the 360 Degree Deal. Effectively, once an artist signs on the dotted line of a 360 Degree Deal, they’ve given up the control of their entire livelihood, and now have handed control over to the record company.

The artist relinquishes ultimate control regarding the development of their career into the hands of the record label; therefore, creating a special relationship of trust and confidence that exists independent of basic contractual duties. It also makes it a lot easier for an artists career to get, “put on the shelf”. Or does it?

The evolution of the music industry in the 21st century has triggered record label companies to re-adopt a new standard recording contract, the 360 deal, in an effort to maintain profitability, as well as their standing in the new digital era. As a result, courts must reconsider existing legal standards in order to effectively protect and ensure the rights of the artist.

Recognizing a fiduciary relationship between record labels and their artist in the context of active interest 360 Degree Deals will effectively balance the rights of the artist and serve as a deterrence against the potential for opportunism in the record label’s pursuit to monopolize the music industry.