Do we need a band agreement?

Do we need a band agreement?

      Do you write songs in the band your involved in?
      Do you plan on making a living playing in a band?
      Are you planning on seeking royalty payments for your music?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, and you decide you are going to pursue making a living with this group of people you need to look at obtaining a trademark with the group name,  and having a band agreement. To determine in writing how you are going to conduct business with each other, and how you are going to run your business.
Having a agreement in place early in your careers to clarify in writinghow earning will be split, what roles and responsibilities for band members are,  and how decisions are made within the group will help avoid and resolve confusion and disputes as your band business grows.

Devote as much time understanding your business as your music they are equally important. Jay Z, Lady GaGa, Madonna, Tom Petty, ALL made the time to learn about the many business details, which has contributed to the success of their huge careers.

When your working with a group of individuals it is in each members best interest to define their responsibilities. 
Clarify compensation, and creative control, scheduled band meetings, to help prevent  huge misunderstandings, and  lawsuits.

I have outlined a few key points to help you draft your initial band agreement,

Getting Started:       

Do you get along and share similar values and goals?
Joining a band is just like dating, in the beginning, everyone is on their best behavior, after the “honeymoon period” is over,  unless there are clear parameters, and ongoing communication, disagreements, and disputes can derail any creative process and progress.

If you are currently booking a few local gigs, playing for the tip jar, you may opt to draft your own version of an agreement that all the key members sign and have a copy of.

If you are booking gigs that provide guarentee’s and contracts,  it’s time to have a entertainment lawyer draft a proper agreement helping you formalize your business identity,  and protecting your band trademark and  assets. 
Keep in mind that if you have having a attorney draft a copy of your band agreement, that one legal person is acting as "secretary" to legally draft a document. They cannot jointly represent multiple clients without creating a conflict of interest, therefore will need to agree to signing a conflict waiver . 

In California you can start by contacting California Lawyers for the arts-  who provides education,  representation, and dispute resolution services for artists.

The terms of your agreement should answer in writing :

Beatles Agreement
Clarify business relationships  and     responsibilities-
Are you a band member?  Are you self employed or contract? Solo artist or employer? What are key responsibilities?

Compensation: Songwriters vs non songwriters- Address division of advances, music publishing, recording royalties, merchandising, and performances.  

 Decision making: How will you make decisions, Leader rules, or Equal votes for all?

 Band Investments: Purchases/Investments, and debts- Is a band vote required for all purchases? Or only purchases of $250 and over?  How are purchase expenses re-cooped

Hiring/Firing: How are members hired or fired?

Band Name /Trademark: Who owns and controls rights to the band name and use- while in the band and after a breakup?

Band members obligations- highlight some key responsibilities, beyond playing a instrument, are members required to devote time to booking? promoting? taking turns driving the bus? Attending scheduled rehearsals?  If a member simply wants to just show up and play- does that make them a minority member? or a gun for hire?

Dispute resolution: will disputes  be resolved in- or outside of court

Identify Key Members / Minority Partners    Identifying Key members, minority partners- do minority partners earn as much

  Travel and accommodations- when money starts coming in, does the lead singer always gets to travel 1st class, but the drummer has to drive the bus? Meal stipends?

Departed members rights to profits- can you sell a cd that has a former member in it?

  Term of agreement (1 yr 2 yr)

Each band member needs to sign and date the band agreement which they are given a copy of  as members of the band.

Need help creating a music marketing plan or simply have questions on managing your music business strategy?

Tamra Engle is a independent music business strategist based in the S.F. bay area she is available for private consultations to help you develop your independent music business, You can read more about her at  you can email her at

Working class hero's

Where were you when President Kennedy,  or John Lennon were killed?
How about  Elvis, Lady Diana, Kurt Cobain, or Michael Jackson died?  These individuals were all cultural icons that had a impact on the way we live.  Most of us remember where we were when we heard the news of their unexpected deaths.

This week in America everyone is talking about  a series of events that involved the loss of so many "working class" hero's,  9/11.
There events are  book marks in everyone's lives. Iconic moments in time, where certain foods, events, and even songs are a reminder of those events.

  I don't want to talk about the event, where you were when the event's occured.  Or the negativity around the event.

  I want to focus on the small window of time after the event.
 I know you remember it, It lasted for just  a couple of weeks,  when all the senseless B.S. just fell away.  

It hindsight it was a beautiful moment of time where everyone was NICE to one another.
We didn't rush, we waited for people to cross the street, we smiled to strangers and said hello, we offered a seat to someone who looked tired, and we  offered a hand to those less fortunate.

I am sending a smile and kind word to all who read this-and invite you to use your creative energy to create something positive.

You my friends are the instruments of change.
Lay down your fears, put aside your hate and instead,
write or sing a song, paint a picture, create a sculpture, knit something, write a poem, Then, give it to someone... ideally a total stranger, and expect nothing in return.

If you are a recipient of a gift from a stranger, pay that kindness  forward.

 I invite you to share this with a friend, and wish all who read this

Happy Blessings,


Photo Credits:

Heart Rock & Yarn Earth: Tamra Engle(c)

MJ & Diana:

John Lennon:

Life is what happens

When we are approaching the New Year we are reminded of resolutions, which ideally have evolved into thoughtful focused and specific goal setting to map out targets for success in 2011.

I started going through my notebook and list of goals, thinking to myself that I hadn’t really accomplished that much this past year.
And as I looked through the list of things I committed to do, and realized-
 I had a really big emotional setbacks in the fall,   saying goodbye to both our beloved dog and cat within 2 weeks of one another. I was lucky enough to share 10 of their 12 years with these two. For those of you who don’t care for animals this doesn’t seem like a big deal, and to readers who adore their little furry friends, understand how special our 4 legged “kids” can be.  My point here is that “Life happens, when you’re making other plans” 

Transitions of all kinds create distractions that can knock you off course.  Storms blow in, a relationship end, a new boss you don't agree with,  your health, or the health of a loved on unexpectadly changes.  You navigate through them as best you can.   Then, you check in to see where you’re at on your “list of goals” and make corrections, or if you’re lost at this point, be smart enough to ask for help. Think of it as asking for directions on a road trip. 
Hopefully I haven’t just lost all the male readers!   

As I navigated through my “storm” this year, I had forgotten about the tremendous progress I had made prior to that time, and some wonderful new opportunities and clients I have acquired since that time.

 For that I am very grateful!  If you have been so busy that you haven't been able to, I  hope that as each of you are checking in to see where your at, during the year end you are able to smile and appreciate how far you’ve come, I would love to hear your stories.
Or if you don't have a list,  or you  need to stop and ask for directions, I am happy to help. Just click here

Happy Holidays!



“Life is what happens when you are making other plans” John Lennon
Photo credit:

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