Business News Legal The Great Escape 2015

Band agreements: How and why a self-releasing act should write one

By | Published on Monday 18 May 2015

Aneesh Patel

As part of the CMU:DIY programme at The Great Escape on Saturday, Scott McKinlay and Aneesh Patel from law firm Harbottle & Lewis gave a presentation on what self-releasing artists should do to ensure that everything is in order legally speaking, both between band members and with the people they work with.

And here are their five tips on how and why to write such an agreement…

1. Why write a band agreement?
You should put in writing key understandings about how you’re going to move forward as a band. It’s best to do this right at the outset, as things can become more complicated once the money starts rolling in.

2. Sharing the rights
Decide who owns the various rights to the band’s output – recordings, artwork, use of the name and any goodwill associated with the act. These could be split equally, or certain things could be owned by specific members of the group – for example, if one of you creates all of the artwork.

3. Dividing up the loot
Once the rights are divided up, decide how you’ll split the money – will everything be distributed equally, or will one or more band members get a bigger cut if you decide that they contribute more to the project? For example, one member of the band might do the bulk of the songwriting, or you may have a non-touring member who you decide shouldn’t receive any contributions from your touring activity.

4. Access to the cash
You should also agree how often people can take money out of the pot. If you have enough coming in, you may decide that members can access a share each month. Or you may decide to pay yourselves less often, but you should make a decision on how often this is.

5. Quitting or splitting
What happens if someone leaves the group? When do they stop being entitled to any money generated by the group, beyond rights they personally own, such as publishing on any songs they wrote or co-wrote? Try and have a plan in place early on to deal with this eventuality.