Written by US Music Attorney with 20 Years Experience
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A Look At Artist Management Contracts
A music manager can be one of the most important and influential forces guiding an artist’s career up the steps to superstardom. Conversely, a bad contract with a manager can quickly derail a promising artist’s path.
Once a musician gets to a certain level of success, it’s naturally fitting that he or she need to bring in outside guidance to take their music and popularity to the next level. An artist can’t continue to produce the art that got them known in the first place if he or she is spending all day every day trying to decide what business decisions will best help get that art to the public.
The starting point for finding a manager is choosing the one that will best fit your needs as an artist, one who understands what you are trying to accomplish and where you want to take your career. The second step is to make sure that person has the background and experience to do what they say they will do for your career.
After you have found the right person, it’s time for the third step, which can be just as important as the first two: the artist and manager must sign to a mutually agreed upon contract. Many of the factors in this contract will have to be agreed upon before hand, such as the actual percentages the manager will receive as compensation, but most contracts will include at least the following information:
Guidance and Advice
This clause basically states what the manager will do for the band—how he will influence decisions that arise concerning band business and other matters. Additionally, an artist and manager may agree on other, more specific duties the manager will perform, which will also be included in the contract.
The contract also will need to specify that the manager will be the exclusive agent for the band. Except in remote cases, the contract will also specify that the manager has the right to represent other artists, as long as those duties do not interfere with his job performance for the artist in the contract.
Terms and Commission
Usually, terms are stated in context of a year or number of years, with a right to renew after that time; also included is a right to terminate the manager if certain income guarantees are not met. Additionally, the contract will state what percentage of band revenues will go to the manager during his tenure. Managers will usually receive commission after his management term is over for any income generated during his term as manager.
Managers usually are not given any publishing income from the band, though some contracts will stipulate that the manager will receive a certain percentage of publishing if a set dollar amount of revenues are met during a given year.
Often, the band will pay reasonable expenses of the manager for duties that are performed for the band. This does not include any of the manager’s overhead costs, and the specifics must be agreed to by both parties.
Additional information such as the manager’s rights as Power of Attorney, involvement in third party mediation and other miscellaneous items also will be included in this contract, depending on the needs of both the artist and the manager involved. It’s a given that managers are very important to artists’ careers, but picking the right one for your career, as well as signing a fair contract, is just as important.