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