If I sing a demo and get paid up front and then it ends up getting used (with my vocal on it) for commercial purposes, do I have any right to any more more money? I'm being asked to sign a contract that is essentially for a demo, but in the contract it says they can use the master for anything they want. I'm just concerned that this song will end up being the biggest selling single of all time with my vocal on it and I'll only $100 out of the deal. - Kinda New At This Game
If you are not in the union there is no set fee or protection for session work... you just have to make your own deals. What's fair? For a demo lead vocal, $100 is a fair fee… but not if they will put that record out for release and sale. That’s not a demo, it's a master, and it would not be fair. If you want to go ahead and sing it anyway for your reasons - maybe for studio experience or the money that they are offering - that’s your business choice.
If you sign a contract that says your recorded vocal performance can be used for any purpose, or if you haven't had them sign a contract stating you DON'T give permission to release it, then they have the right to release it if they want to, with no further payment to you.
Consider your career goals:
Are you going for a session singing career? Do as many sessions as you can- leads and background vocals. Network as a session singer, get a demo reel done and get it in the hands of songwriters, publishers, producers and other session singers who might book you.
Are you going for a recording artist career? The quality of both the song and the recording need to be good so that it’s not a career negative for you if it does aired publicly. I've known about some nightmare scenerios such as when a recording artist sang what she thought was a demo lead on a dumb, low quality song/recording. It was released to radio and soundly trounced by a major music reviewer. Ouch!
It's good to make an informed choice about the leads we sing for others. Hopefully this can help you make a wise one.