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The Ultimate Guide to Closing a Band Deal for the DIY Musician

It’s official. You’ve created your band as a business, you’re committed to the cause, and you’re about to embark on a journey with your business partners, AKA, your band members. However, before renting your van or booking the studio, there is still one crucial task to complete. The Band Agreement.

A partnership agreement, or group agreement, is a formal, legal document that describes the “rules” or provisions that all members of the group must adhere to throughout the career and operation of the group.

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It is recommended that if a band intends to profit from their original works or performances, they should enter into a legal agreement among themselves to protect the future of the band and, of course, the rights of individual members.

Not only does the contract ensure that all parties are legally taken care of, but it is an effective way to create a line of communication between other members. Ultimately, by completing this process, the Band can be assured that in the event of any legal issue, resolution has already been agreed upon.

When drafting your contract, many clauses must be taken into account. While each case is unique and would require various policies, there are some that are the basic standard for any band’s partnership agreement.

Start date

To begin with, band members should consider a specific date for the start of the agreement. In doing so, it indicates from which date all agreed conditions were legally terminated.

Although not always necessary, some groups choose to include an end date in the agreement – meaning that when the time comes, members can review the contract, agree new terms, etc.


Although this is a fairly straightforward part of the deal, outlining the purpose of your band’s formation as a business is a great way to get an idea of ​​the short and long term goals of each member and their commitment to their musical career.

By including a sentence or two explaining why you have come together as a group and what you are about to achieve, it provides you with an official incentive and a point of reference for the future.

Group name and logo

One of the most crucial terms to cover is who controls the rights to the band’s name and logo. There have been many cases throughout history where a band has disbanded and one member has continued under the same name, profiting from the work of the whole band – you’re probably already familiar with the Little case River Band.

Generally, in a collaborative group in which all members are equal contributors, rights are shared equally.

Songwriting Credits and Ownership

An essential part of your partnership agreement will determine who owns the copyright to the original written material and recorded works of the band.

If there are dominant songwriters, they may wish to receive a higher share of the publishing rights to their songs, however, each case is different – some bands decide to split each revenue stream equally.

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Similarly, when it comes to band income, there are many sources of income they can enjoy including live performances, merchandise, sync deals, sponsorships, record sales, streaming, etc. .

Each of these revenue streams will need to be divided among band members and it is important to establish the terms of distribution. For example, a member of the group may have participated in the design of the merchandise and thus seek more profit.

Expenses & reimbursements

Often bands define the types of expenses that will be covered by the income of the partnership. This will prevent any member from using group money for personal expenses.

As a start-up, it’s likely that members will need to donate money to the cause at some point. By including this clause in the contract, you can agree on how these deposits will be refunded to each member.

Leaving and terminated band members

If a band member chooses to leave or is fired from the band, they have the legal right to the rights to the songs they wrote/own and to perform the musical works they wrote outside of the relationship of the band. band.

However, the band should be sure to include a condition outlining its decision on ownership of the band name for each member’s departure.

New members

While it is always beneficial for a band’s original lineup to remain intact, there are times when a new member will be needed.

Therefore, it is important to detail the rights of this member in terms of copyright, name ownership, etc. It is also recommended to include a clause outlining an agreed process and voting system for hiring.

The last thing you want is for a new member to join the group that an original member doesn’t approve of.

Dispute settlement

By including a dispute resolution clause in your partnership agreement, you virtually establish an agreed-upon process for any issues that may arise throughout your career as a band.

In the event of a dispute, you can agree on a voting system or use a third-party mediator/arbitrator.

Dissolution of band partnership

In the unfortunate event of the band’s time ending, certain issues should be included in the agreement to ensure the smoothest and fairest dissolution possible.

Questions to consider include: who will own the name, can it be reused and, of course, how will the royalties be distributed?

This article was originally published on March 20, 2016.

Click here for an example of a band agreement or head here for more information.


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