"This is your music, your business and your brand. It’s on you to invest in yourself," says audit veteran Marsha Sealy.
On Sept. 2, #TheShowMustBePaused laid out its list of demands for music companies to implement and uphold as the organization continues to push for diversity, transparency and the end of racial bias across the industry. Then last week, Kanye West picked up the gauntlet himself by denouncing label deals and calling for reform in how artist contracts are structured.
When it comes to contracts and other financial matters, one of the first steps an artist, songwriter or producer can take on the road to accountability is to engage an auditor. In the as-told-to below, audit veteran Marsha Sealy explains why it's high time for all contracts to be "fair and equitable."
We may be perceived as the devil by some, but auditors are truly a saving grace. Still we largely remain the industry's best-kept secret. However, as Kanye West publicly decries the current structure of recording contracts — following label/publisher BMG's post-#BlackoutTuesday commitment to review all of its historic contracts for inequities or anomalies — the auditor in me says, "It's time for artists — especially Black artists — to conduct their due diligence."
What artists and songwriter/producers need to understand first is the fundamental difference between an auditor and an accountant. A number of auditors are also accountants, handling and validating the bookkeeping, preparing financial documents such as profit-and-loss statements, balance sheets and overseeing the controls that govern the accounting process. Generally, however, accountants and internal auditors are employees of the organization where they work. An external auditor, however, is a third party brought in to impartially examine and render an opinion (audit report) on the accuracy and completeness of all financial aspects of the said business.