Agreements between Music Collaborators

The best way of thinking about an agreement with co-writers in your band is as a way of keeping your friends. I say band but really this applies to any partnership, whether songwriting, production, or a music enterprise like a label or a club night.

Whilst you may or may not still be friends with the co-writers in your band in 15 years time there is no surer way of losing them – or some of them – than not making an agreement before finances get involved. Putting an agreement off can place you in the painful position of being unable to get an agreement signed when, after years of hard collaboration and honing of the partnership of two, three, four or five people, you finally win commercial success with a track, only to find someone in the band who denies the significance of your contribution to the writing.

It is not an uncommon scenario that before any money is made the people in any partnership are happy to work with full commitment on an assumption of equal shares, only to find in reality one or two contributors have not seen the process as 100% ‘democratic’, and that any division of royalties, fees and advances should favour whoever they deem to be the main contributors, which invariably includes themselves! Inevitably the trigger for this sharpening of focus is the prospect of income, by which time it is too late to be rational.

Another de-stabilising factor is the amount of advice suddenly flooding in from outsiders who are interested in the partnership. These opinions are inevitably conflicting simply due to the range of honest opinions and the timing can hinder a fair agreement that would have taken 2 rounds in the pub after rehearsals just six months before.

So do your entire collaborative effort a huge favour and get this done as soon as possible. It will help you keep your friends and devote all your energies into making the best creative product possible without question. Your agreement doesn’t have to be long or fancy. It just has to be signed, now!

Guest article by: Matthew Mars

Independent publisher: +Added Music; tw: @added_music 

Programme Manager: CM Sounds; tw: @cmsounds

For a trusted Band Agreement template please visit The Music Law Contracts website.

Images source: Mike Licht

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