Why Your Band Needs a Formal “Band Agreement” and How to Begin

When you’re just playing music with your friends for fun, it is great to keep everything very casual. Once you start making real money, and your band is gaining popularity, however, you’re going to want to get a band agreement in place. While it may seem unnecessary right now, you’ll be glad you have it down the road if and when a disagreement or other problem presents itself.

What is a Band Agreement?

A band agreement is simply a basic contract that helps make sure everyone in the band is on the same page. While each one will be unique, most of these agreements will cover at least the following items:

  • Who Is in the Band – It may sound obvious, but this is actually very important.  That second guitar player may join you for half your tour dates and record with you in the studio. He may even be a co-writer on a few songs.  Does that make him a member of your band?
  • Band Member Responsibilities – Identifying the responsibilities of each member is critical. This will go beyond just which instruments each person plays and could include items like band promotion, scheduling, meeting with record labels, and so forth.
  • Financial Liabilities – In the event that the band needs to spend money for equipment, travel, or other items, the agreement will lay out how that is to be done.
  • Financial Distribution – Any profit that the band makes needs to be split up.  Your band agreement will identify who is entitled to what.
  • Ownership – Songs recorded or written by the band members, the band name, and even the equipment used by the band are often overlooked as things that the band has ownership of. The music publishing (who owns the songs) can be an especially thorny topic because the songs have the potential to generate money long after the band might have broken up. Music publishing income could be the only source of income later on, and it’s extremely important to determine how that income will be divided among the band members.

Is it Really Necessary?

Just about every band that has ever formed and started to become successful thought that they would stay together forever. The problem is, as people grow and as bands become successful, there will undoubtedly be some friction. While there are some bands like Aerosmith & The Rolling Stones that have been able to stick together for decades, the vast majority of them end up splitting up, even if it is only for a time.

If this occurs, a good band agreement can help ensure everything is split up fairly and can even help to prevent hard feelings. By addressing potential issues ahead of time, you can greatly reduce the stress and anger because you’ve already agreed on how to handle these issues.

Creating Your Band Agreement

If you have gotten to the point where you feel a band agreement might be in your best interest, you’ll want to sit down and have a conversation with the others in the band. Having an open conversation about the benefits of the agreement can help to get everyone on board. When you’re ready to begin, it’s important to have an attorney assist you with the process in order to ensure that all of the details are covered.

If you’re ready to begin drawing up your band agreement (or if you already have one and you’d like it to be reviewed by an experienced entertainment attorney), please contact me today. I look forward to helping you take your band to new heights!

Written by Kelley Law Group

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