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Comparison Chart of Worker Rights: Employees, Independent Contractors, and Music Creatives



Independent Contractor 

Songwriters & Producers

Control Over Work

The employee has limited control and is directed by the employer.

They can decide when, where, and how they complete their services.

Songwriters and producers have limited control over their work for record labels and artists.

Contractual Agreements

An employer provides an employment contract to define roles, responsibilities, pay, and benefits.

They can negotiate contracts with clients to define work terms, including payment, deadlines, and project specifics.

ALL business dealings between creatives and record labels are rarely defined by a contract.

Wage Regulations by Government

Employers must abide by federal and state minimum wage and worker overtime laws.

Compensation for services and rights self-regulated.

The Copyright Royalty Board sets songwriters' and producers' royalty rates for streaming.

Work Exclusivity

Expected to work exclusively for the employer.

Can work for multiple clients simultaneously.

Songwriters and producers rarely have the flexibility to pitch songs they created for an artist to multiple artists simultaneously.


Fixed or negotiated wage, may include overtime pay.

Negotiates fees or rates for services.

Record labels & artist teams often deny songwriters and producers pay for the services they provide.

Do you still think songwriters and producers should be classified as independent contractors?

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