July 28th, 2012, 08:35 PM
My band is in the beginning stages and we have some cool stuff going on over the next few months. I've done what I can in creating my own agreements and contracts as to how the band/business operates, who owns what, who gets paid what and when, hiring/firing etc. etc...
I'm really to the point now where I need us to get in front of a real attorney who is experienced in this kind of stuff to help us complete these next steps and turning what I have written into real legal docs.
1. Forming the proper business entity
2. Creating inter-band agreements
3. Creating other agreements used for hired musicians
4. Recording rights contracts for session players etc...
We're based in Florida but would be open to working with someone out of state if they are good.
And, we're not throwing around label money here, it's all out of pocket/band expenses and we're not rich, but we understand this stuff will cost some coin.
Feel free to PM me with any names/firms that you would recommend, especially if you've dealt with them personally in the past.
July 30th, 2012, 08:48 AM
You might want to check out the website LegalZoom, or some sort of thing like it. It has some information about entertainment law and contracts and whatnot that may be useful to you whether you use the service or not.
August 2nd, 2012, 10:34 PM
I know I am biased, but I would not trust my music career to LegalZoom, or any "form" agreements you find online or in a book. I have books that are absolutely wrong about the law on issues. The industry is changing too fast and your circumstances may be far different than what the author of a form agreement (who may not even be an attorney) assumes about what a band, or its members, should or should not do. You should work with an attorney who actually has experience in the music industry and advising small businesses. There are just too many industry terms of art and concepts that come into play to trust a general practitioner will construct what you need. Don't get me wrong, no attorney will really draft their documents from absolute scratch, but you should deal with one who does it regularly. However, an experienced attorney should ask lots and lots of questions - and some issues you may not have even considered - before agreeing to draft up any agreements for you. Just as a quick tip: if your session musicians are members of the AFofM their union membership assures that their contributions are "works-made-for-hire." If they are not union musicians (or vocalists, photographers, liner note writers, graphic artists, etc.) then you absolutely MUST have a written agreement with them BEFORE ANY work begins. That goes for producers, or anyone else who contributes to a copyright-protectable work, as well. It can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to correct a situation using a lawyer (or re-record tracks) if you don't have a written agreement in place before work begins. I don't care who the other party is, how long you have known them, what their credits are, or what a great person they are. Take it from someone who has dealt with that situation dozens of times.
Best of luck!
August 2nd, 2012, 11:27 PM
I'd be interested to hear how this works out for you. I've considered going a similar route with my band, but it seems prohibitively expensive to hire a lawyer considering that we aren't exactly earning millions yet.
August 2nd, 2012, 11:42 PM
Well, I met with a local attorney today who advertises entertainment law. He told me he has done a few dozen music acts over the years but mainly focuses on tv/film/commercials when doing entertainment and largely just handles small business consultation and contracts.
He was very informative when it came to different potential problems. I showed him the agreement I've been working on and he said it was a great start and typically clients who think all this out for themselves wind up with more solid agreements than those who just want something without any thought behind it. Kind of obvious, but that's really what a business owner should do instead of trying to just hire someone to think for them right? He told me that he'd charge between $500 and $900 drafting up an operating agreement for the group. Flat fee, not hourly. Says the costs depends on how many people are involved the level of customization of the agreement etc... He said they would just pass through the state fees for filing entities with the state and only charge for the doc prep.
I get the sense that I would pretty much need to figure out all of the facets of what "could" happen in the music business and how it would affect my group. That's where someone more experienced in the business would be a valuable asset. And maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the cost would be too far out of that range if they already have some working agreements to use as a jumping off point. We're not trying to re-create the wheel here.
I definitely don't think it's prohibitively expensive. If your band is serious, there's a lot of money floating around in equipment, gig pay, recording services, copyright, intellectual property and on and on and on. A good agreement up front saves a ton of BS in the end. It's been said time and time again, band or business, it's all the same. What's the saying? "An ounce of prevention..."