Whats an internal band contract? 10 Answers as of November 04, 2012

A buddy of mine asked me if my band has an internal band contract. I said no because I don't know what that is and he laughed at me and said I was stupid. Is this something I should have?

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The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq.
The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq. | John J. Carney
Most musicians do not have lawyers when they are starting out. They sing bad long term contracts and do not have anything in writing that will determine ,who gets the royalties, who has written the songs, who can use the band's name, who can be replaced, and who gets paid for each performance and what share of the gross or net they get. Their record contract can be written so that they have to pay "expenses" and the record company will keep the books and cheat them. They may not even own their own songs or masters or have the publishing rights. You should have separate lawyers for each band member and a contract spelling out every possible detail just in case the band ever makes any money.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/4/2012
Johnetta Paye
Johnetta Paye | Johnetta Paye
An internal band agreement is a contract between the members of a group/band. The band agreement stipulates how monies received from shows, merchandising, touring, etc. will be divided between group member. Band agreements also contain clauses that stipulate who owns the rights to the band name and logo. The agreement also addresses who owns the copyrights for writing certain lyrics or composing the music to a song. How members will be credited for their work on a song. The agreement also provides what consequences there will be if a member fails to attend rehearsals or shows. It's generally wise to have a band agreement. The band agreement helps to make sure that everyone in the band is on the same page.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 10/15/2012
Law Offices of Mark R. Smith, P.C.
Law Offices of Mark R. Smith, P.C. | Mark R. Smith, Esq.
A band agreement (or "internal band contract") would be a written agreement defining each member's rights and obligations. It could be as simple or as detailed as you like and would identify things such as, who owns the band name, what is the percentage split of income, how to handle a leaving member, how to handle firing new member, who makes decisions, etc. etc. It is, like any other contract, a good idea and can be very useful when disputes between band members arise.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/12/2012
Lawyer for Independent Media
Lawyer for Independent Media | Sue Basko
I write internal band contracts. I highly recommend that every band should have one. This is a contract that tells how the band will do things within the band. One topic such a contract addresses is who will own copyright on the songwriting. Will it be just the main songwriters or will it be the whole band, if they each contribute on creating the music? Who will be in charge of registering copyright and how will they inform the others? Who will pay for the registrations? Other topics covered include who will own the sound recordings, who will decide if the band will sign a contract with a manager, agent, studio, or record label; what happens when a band member quits, what happens when some member want to kick out another band member, who owns the band name, who gets to control the sales accounts, who makes creative decisions on recordings, who decides which songs will be recorded, who owns the social media accounts and email list, who books shows and how, who pays for what, who gets nominated or wins awards on behalf of the band and its music, and on and on.

There are different ways that bands can structure these issues of power and balance and fairness. When there is no contract in advance, when situations arise, there can be lots of financial, personal, and legal trouble. It is a great idea to have a contract in place. I write these. Each contract is special for that particular band and its purposes.

I would like to say I have seen it all. I have seen band coups. I have seen people kicked out of the band they started. I have seen people register copyright in their own name on songs written entirely by their band mates. I have seen managers lord it over band members. I have seen producers steal the rights to recordings from music artists. But I have not seen it all, because I am sure there's a lot more shenanigans left in the rock band world. If you have a band, get a band contract.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/10/2012
Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
I think a band contract is particularly needed in Illinois because so much of the music business in the Chicago area and other parts of the midwest fails to follow the law or general professional music industry standards. When a band from Illinois tries to sign on to a label or other deal in California or some other place that works according to laws and standards, there can be a lot of trouble. Having an internal band contract will at least mean the band's own business has been kept orderly.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 10/11/2012
    Abts Law, LLC
    Abts Law, LLC | Matthew Abts
    It is hard to image a circumstance where your band, as a whole, would not benefit from a band agreement spelling out rights to the intellectual property you create together, division of proceeds and payment of costs, exiting the band, performance rights and responsibilities, etc . I'd recommend reading a few on the Internet, and then contacting an inexpensive attorney to complete drafting of the agreement. Whether your band is successful or not, at some point (if history is a guide) you'll have an argument or disagreement that the contract will resolve, saving you time, trouble, and potentially saving your band from an argumentative split.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Mark Bagula
    Mark Bagula | Mark Bagula
    Since you are all working together toward a common goal (venture), you should have a contract amongst each other defining what each band member contributes to the group, and gains from any work of the group. Answer questions like: who owns this song? Do we share equally in all money made? Is everyone authorized to speak publicly on behalf of the band? And others.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Entertainment Law Partners
    Entertainment Law Partners | Tifanie Jodeh
    An internal band agreement is an agreement between each of the band members on how the band will operate. Think of the band as a business and how the business will run. Every business should set a policy and agreement on things like profit share, ownership interests, copyrights, time commitment, dissolution, etc. It is highly recommended that band members know their rights, responsibilities and obligations so, if you ever break up, members know what they will get.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Day and Koch, LLP
    Day and Koch, LLP | Bartley Day
    An internal band contract is a contract between the band members concerning such things as how band expenses will be paid and how profits will be divided, who will own the instruments and sound equipment, how music publishing and song royalty issues will be handled, who will own the band name if a member leaves or if the band splits up, etc. etc. Such an agreement is usually in the form of a (written) partnership agreement or an LLC Operating Agreement. The exact kind of contract to be used will depend on how the band does business - for example, whether as a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation. Having an internal band agreement will usually save the band members a lot of headaches in the long run.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 10/11/2012
    Law Offices of Neil Sussman
    Law Offices of Neil Sussman | Neil Sussman
    Yes, this is something your band should have. An internal band contract is a contract between the band members that covers key issues about running the band. Some of those key issues are things such as how will expenses be covered, how will revenues be split, who makes decisions about how the band is run, who owns any songs or recordings or other assets, and who gets what if someone leaves the band or the band breaks up. If you do not have an internal band contract, then these issues may not be clearly determined. Arguing about them later with attorneys for each band member will be a lot more expensive than having one attorney prepare a contract for you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/11/2012
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