Long Form

So You Want To Be In A Band (Part 2)

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As the bands grow and get along well, its second nature to enjoy the good times. But rarely are we prepared for the bad times. Have you ever given thought about what will happen should things fall apart one day? In these difficult situations, there must be something to fall back on. And this is where the band agreement comes in.

Simply put, the band agreement is a legal document that can be considered as a contract to all parties involved. Let’s look at some of the important things that can be covered in the agreement:

  • Decision-making – is it by majority vote? Or consensus? This is vital in ensuring that decisions regarding the band are respected by band members. After all, it is they who signed the agreement.
  • Songwriting credits – Who gets the credits for song composition, lyrics… are they going to be split equally or is there a main songwriter that gets the credits?
  • Profits distribution – How you split the profits from sale of your music whether its ringtones ,cds or merchandise
  • Termination or dissolution – What happens to the band when someone quits or the band decides to call it a day? Most importantly, how do you kick out a band member?
  • Other related stuff – for instance, who keeps the band name, does your shared musical equipment get split equally or anyone can take anything they like? etc

There are many more issues, but this can be the starting point for the band agreement. Many sample agreements are available on the internet for you to refer.

Now, should you do it? There are many cases of bands going on well without any formal contracts between themselves. That’s fine. You can do that. If you trust your band mates like how you would a family member, it does sound offensive to even suggest this.

But there is only one situation where the band agreement is absolutely essential – when you start making money off the band. It’s a well-known fact that money is often the cause of disputes and breakups. Clearly written band agreements can avoid this fate for you.  The most critical aspect of the band agreement is that it should clearly spell out who gets what and how much.

The agreement can come later at a stage when the band has some solid material and shows. It’s too premature to sign an agreement when you don’t even  have two finished songs or played your first gig.

Granted it sounds so business-like, agreements. But it’s not bad or evil, just necessary. If you really do reach a certain level of success, you’re going to have to address this anyway.  Maybe consider this as an essential foundation. It helps you grow and make a living (hopefully!) out of what you and others create. So don’t see it as something that will divide, rather use it as a tool to unite your band.

By Amir Shazlan