I have a series of questions for you and the members of your band, your producer, the studio where you might be recording in and anyone else from managers to agents, labels and so on that is directly involved with you, your music or your revenues, both existing and the potential ones.
Lets play the happy go lucky best case scenario game first….
What would happen if the album you are recording made a million dollars?
How do the profits break out for everyone involved?
What debts have to be paid before anyone gets paid?
When it comes to band debts, who is owed what?
Did you get free work from… a studio, a producer, a mastering engineer, a session musician or anyone else and do they get a cut?
What happens if the song goes in to a commercial, a movie, a TV show or what if the song is sold to some one else or a label that records it with another artist?
Then some of the rougher questions…..
What if a band member quits? What does he or she get down the line or not get? Does this now ex-member get a buy out or their portion of band debts paid back or not?
With the same questions as above, what happens when some one is fired and while we are at it, does the band have an understanding of how someone can be fired or not?
What songs belong to who and if some one wants to record them with another band, can they? Do they have to pay the other members royalties?
What if a band member dies? Do their family receive any kind of cut for future profits?
What about merchandise? How does that break out for payments?
Well?????? Do you know and better yet, do the other around you know or think the same thing?
You better answer all these questions and it is much better to do it before you potentially make a million dollars or for that matter even finish the album.
If you are already a few albums in or a few years in, all the more important to get these questions answered and put in to a simple agreement NOW!!!!!
I was at breakfast this morning with an artist who is in the middle of a recording. As I asked her some of these questions, she answered like many others do. “Well, we don’t have anything in writing but it’s all good and we are good friends. I know I should get on that but the album isn’t even done yet and I will get to it.”
More bands have self destructed in to awful situations with lawsuits, fights and people wanting to kill each other because “it was all good” at that time but not now or not when things started to go really good or really bad.
Get the answers now to create the best solutions for later!!!!
As things change over time, that guy that was your best friend in the world could be the guy you loathe more than life it self. Then after some explosive band ending argument, do you really think that is going to be the time to clarify everything?
Set up the expectations and understandings in advance.
Talk through the best case and the worst case scenarios. Lay out all the above questions as well as any others you each may have for your specific or individualized situation. Come to a band agreement where everyone has a clear understanding of what will happen if the best things happen, if the worst things happen and everywhere in between.
Start these conversations today. Get the answers to these questions in place. When everyone is on the same page, it will make a world of difference if or when you can’t even be in the same room later down the line.