ARTIST RESOURCES: Writing A Band Agreement

Playing in a band is a lot like a business venture. Correction: it IS a business venture; one that should be taken seriously. Your creative enterprise is one that can make you and your mates a lot of money, so it’s best in the beginning stages to work out various aspects of your business rather than doing so when labels come knocking.

Step One: Original Members & Key Members

Determine who the Key Members are in your band. Key Members usually follow an order like this:

  1. Vocalist(s)
  2. Guitar
  3. Bass
  4. Drums

Before my butt gets kicked for the order above, Drums and guitar are the most popular musical instruments taught in school, below piano. They are easier to replace than the voice of an Aretha Franklin or Jon Bon Jovi.

Step Two: Roles & Responsibilities

What should each member be responsible for? ie: Social media, show bookings, arranging merchandise, booking studio time, arranging rehearsal space… Play to each other’s strengths when completing this section.

Step Three: The Band Name

Any of the following are typically used when designing contracts for bands.

  • Whoever comes up with the band name holds the right to use the name should the group disband.

OR

  • The band name can only be used when any one original member is still in the band. (Guns N’ Roses key and original member Axl Rose is still in the 2008 incarnation of the group and therefore, can still use the band name.)

Step Four: Songwriting credits

  • Should every member receive equal songwriting credit?
  • Should each member receive a percentage based on their contribution?
  • What happens if one member quits? Do they still receive their share of the songwriting credit? (I’ll get into this below)

Step Five: Clauses

The Quitter clause

Including a clause that outlines what happens when a member leaves the group removes the guessing-game that may ensue later on.

  • Will the former member still receive merchandise royalties? Future merchandise?
  • Will the former member still be credited with writing songs or lyrics?
  • What if they want to start a new band with the same name?
  • Have they invested any capital into the business? When should they expect a return?
  • Should they be responsible for finding a replacement?

The Behavioural/Addictions Clause

If a member has behavioural issues or has an addiction that affects the normal functions of the business, the member may be terminated or mandated to seek help. Should they be terminated, rights to songs, merchandise, and the band name could be revoked.

The Terminally Ill/Death Clause

If a band member falls very ill or dies, their rights can either be divided amongst the healthy/living members or willed to a family member.

Step Six: Hiring & Firing of Personnel

This section ensures that a member does not hire their “third cousin Joe Blow who hangs out at a bunch of clubs around town” without the others’ consent. Following a hiring and firing procedure for all aspects of the band is a great way to make sure you have the right people working with your band. This could apply to hiring:

  • Managers
  • Band mates
  • Booking Agents
  • Accountants
  • Producers

There is much more to writing a band agreement, but it could be as vague or as comprehensive as you want it to be. Here are some links that may be useful when considering a band agreement:

http://miyb.blogspot.ca/2010/02/sampleexample-of-band-agreement.html

http://musicians.about.com/od/musiciansfaq/f/bandmemcontract.htm

http://www.musicbizacademy.com/knab/articles/bandagreement.htm

 

UP NEXT: Booking a gig!