Written by US Music Attorney with 20 Years Experience
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What is a Band Agreement?
For a young band, having a contract is nearly as important as making sure everyone in the band knows all the parts to every song. But what goes into a Band Partnership Agreement?
Though it seems strange, if not down right offensive, to put a partnership in writing between a group that is often friends, a Band Partnership Agreement can save many arguments about future band affairs. These documents often save bands that might have otherwise called it quits.
This will vary among different bands needs, but the following are some touchstones that the Band Partnership Agreement will address:
This seems obvious, but clearly defining the band name also allows room in the rest of the contract to declare allowable use of the band name. For instance, the contract will state if the name is owned by everyone equally, and who (if anyone) can use the name if the band breaks up.
Income and Expenses
Though this heading will depend on the band involved in any individual contract, the financial clauses will determine how money will be split between band members (evenly, or with certain members receiving more than others). Additionally, these clauses will state how band expenses will be divided among members.
A contract must state how songwriting royalties will be divided among band members. Often, this will mean pointing to a publishing and/or songwriting royalties contract that will be mutually agreed upon for each song.
New and Leaving Members
A clause stating how and why a member may be dismissed from a band often proves integral in a band’s career. Depending on the band, this often requires a unanimous decision, and the contract usually declares what the leaving band member will receive from the band’s assets. Most of the time, the addition of a new member also requires the unanimous decision of the band, though this too can vary.
Unanimous Consent vs. Majority Voting
Next, the contract will list what items must be decided by the unanimous consent of the band versus which only requires a majority vote. The band will discuss these items before signing to determine which items will fall into which category. Examples of items often included in these categories are: altering the Band Partnership Agreement, borrowing money in the band’s name, entering into new contracts, etc.
Dissolution of Band Partnership
It’s probably not the first thing on anyone’s mind when a Band Partnership Agreement is being written, but there’s always the chance that the band will break up, in which case a clause is needed stating the terms of this event. Usually, ending a partnership also will require unanimous consent. This clause will also discuss how the bands assets and debts will be dealt with at the time of dissolution. Additionally, the contract will state that the agreement itself also will terminate at the time of the end of the band.
Again, each of these items will be expanded thoroughly in the contract itself to meet the needs of each band and each band member. For a new band just beginning to make a name for itself, it may be hard to sign a contract that already allows for what will happen when the band breaks up, but everyone who’s ever signed ones knows it can help in the long run.