By Lori Spencer


Many of today’s top recording stars are under the age of 18, and have successfully entered into lucrative record deals with the help and support of their parents. Although U.S. courts have generally held that contracts with minors are unenforceable — because the minor did not have the legal capacity to enter into a contract — this is not always the case. The State of Tennessee does not allow a child performer to knowingly disavow a contract, while reaping the benefits.

Step 1

Consult an attorney that specializes in entertainment law and have them review the recording contract. Take time to ask questions about what your legal responsibilities will be if your child is under the age of emancipation. In Tennessee, the age at which a minor is legally considered an adult is 18.

Step 2

Take the child along to meetings with your attorney. It is vitally important that your child fully comprehends the legal document they are about to sign. Let them ask the attorney questions about performance obligations, royalty payments, or any other clause of the agreement they do not understand.

Step 3

Resist the temptation to handle every aspect of contract negotiation for your minor child. Even if you ultimately know what is best for him, or want to shield them from details, being involved in the process is how your child learns about the music business. This experience will come in handy later as an adult performer.

Step 4

Talk to your child at length before signing on the dotted line. Stress that while being onstage may seem glamorous, there is a lot of hard work involved and countless hours spent rehearsing, performing and recording. Ask them if they are really ready to give up having a normal teenage life to pursue a career in music.

Step 5

Set firm boundaries when it comes to keeping up your child’s grades at school. The demands of recording and playing concerts will make it hard for your child to find study time, and their grades may slip as a result. Discuss whether or not your child plans to attend college, and how they will manage to balance a full course load with the music career.

Step 6

Apply to the court in your jurisdiction to appoint one or possibly both parents as fiduciary — or guardian ad litem — for the child. In the state of Tennessee, this step is not required unless the child is expected to generate more than $10,000 in annual income.


In some cases, a minor can be responsible for contractual obligations just as if they had signed the document as an adult. Judicial approval of the contract by the superior court prevents the minor from later dis-affirming the contract. Either party to the contract may petition the court for an approval hearing. Although court approval of a minor contract is routinely done in recording capitals like New York and Los Angeles, Tennessee does not have a specific statute for court approval of contracts relating specifically to the services of minors. Ask your attorney if other statutes – such as Title 34 of the Tennessee Code – would be applicable in your situation.



, TN
Mid South

Key Concepts

  • record contracts minors
  • child star performers
  • entertainment contracts minors
  • age of emancipation
  • Nashville young talent
  • minors record deals

User Bio

Lori Spencer has written professionally since 1986. She is the author of three nonfiction books, is writing her fourth and provides content for eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM. She also produces and hosts a weekly radio show. Her subjects of expertise include history, media, music, film and the performing arts.

  1. Louann says:

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!

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