So here's the first official blog on this page. I've split this one up into two parts, so there'll be more on this next week. Please feel free to add anything or ask any questions. I hope you get something out of it. Enjoy!
DO YOU HAVE A BAND AGREEMENT? PART 1
The first thing any band is going to think about when they first get together is creating music and getting it out there via live performances, sound recordings and videos. The one thing most bands neglect to think about is the business side of things which, unfortunately, can have some serious consequences.
The first and most important issue a band should tackle is drafting up an internal agreement that outlines the finer details of this complex business relationship that has been entered into. The fact that this kind of thing so often gets ignored is perhaps a big part of why most bands are unsuccessful at the end of the day. They don’t bother dealing with these important business issues and subsequently send a strong message to themselves and others that what they’re doing musically or otherwise really isn’t that important. Don’t be like this. If you think you’ve got what it takes then start taking your music career very seriously and you’ll notice how you and everyone else around you will begin to act accordingly. It always starts with you.
YOUR BAND NAME
One of the first and most important things you have to look at regarding your agreement is your band name. Who owns it? What happens with the name if:
The band breaks up?
The singer leaves the band?
The main songwriter leaves the band?
A member who doesn’t write songs leaves the band?
Half, or more than half of the members leave?
There’s an infinite number of ways these issues can be dealt with but it’s ultimately up to the individuals involved to decide how things are going to be. In a situation where one or two members are clearly contributing more than the others, it can be common for those members to maintain ownership of the name and also to have control over important decisions that need to be made creatively and business-wise. If everyone involved is contributing a relatively equal amount of work toward the project then things can be a little more complicated. You can decide that as long as a majority of the band members are still together, they can continue using the name. If there are four members and two of them leave to start something new and the other two begin a new project as well, who can take the name? There’s an even number of members on both sides of the fence. This is where things get sticky; if there’s no written agreement on the table then now is the time to do it when everyone is getting along and thinking clearly. If there’s nothing in writing then the government will decide that it is an equal partnership and every one of you has the non-exclusive right to use the name in any of the above scenarios. This sounds pretty ridiculous doesn’t it? The only thing more ridiculous would be the legal cost involved in cleaning up that mess. Figure it out NOW!
Next on the chopping block is splitting up the proverbial pie (if there is a pie to be split that is). The first order of business is to understand the potential revenue streams that exist for you. Here’s a few of the obvious sources.
CD sales/digital downloads
It’s important to understand these revenue streams because how the money gets divided may differ depending on which source we’re talking about. For example, you may have uneven percentage splits for songwriting royalties depending on who contributed more to the song in question and conversely, you may have equal splits when it comes to touring based on the idea that everyone is putting their energy into bringing the rock to the kids night after night. Again, however you decide to divide things up is totally up to you. Anything goes.
Whenever this subject comes up, I always feel that unless someone in the band is doing absolutely nothing to contribute except playing their instrument, that things usually work out the best when it’s an even split. When you look at a band like KISS it’s easy to see that Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are the ones driving that bus, but in the beginning with the original four members, they all got an equal cut of record sales, merchandising and touring (songwriting royalties are quite often subject to who wrote what but they can be split equally as well). If it didn’t go that way quite possibly one or more members may have gotten their nose out of joint and the band’s rise to success would’ve come to an abrupt halt. When we look at KISS’ career in hindsight it’s easy to see they would’ve all been BIG losers. Remember, a smaller percentage of a big pie is quite often much better than a bigger percentage of a small pie.