Do You Have a Band Partnership Agreement Yet?
by Glenn T. Litwak
Why even have a written agreement between the members of a band or group? Entering into a band partnership agreement is advisable, not necessarily because you don’t trust your band mates, but because it forces the members of the band to address difficult issues and hopefully reduce misunderstandings. To paraphrase Timothy B. Schmit, bassist/singer with The Eagles: “In my experience, all rock & roll bands are on the verge of breaking up at all times.” Yes, disputes will arise and you will be in a better position to deal with them if you have a comprehensive band agreement––in writing.
Band Name: The agreement should indicate the band name and any logo. It should also indicate who owns the band name. This issue has come up with some famous bands, like The Beach Boys. When a band breaks up, the question often arises as to who owns the name and, consequently, who can record and perform using that name. There are alternatives for ownership of the band name. For instance, the agreement can provide that the band owns the name, and departing band members have no right to use the name. Or let’s say two members were instrumental in forming the band; the agreement could say “should those members leave, the band shall cease using the band name and logo.”
Other Projects: The agreement may provide that band members can participate in other music projects (solo albums, solo performances, side artist appearances, etc.) so long as it does not interfere with band obligations.
Representations and Warranties: The agreement should include typical (“boilerplate”) representations, such as: members have the legal right to enter into the band agreement; they will not do anything to harm the band partnership; that members are under no restriction that would interfere with the agreement; and that they will not sell their interest in the band without the consent of the other band members.
Profits and Losses: The simplest way to divide profits and losses is to provide in the agreement that the band members will share equally in them. This provision should also provide for a specific definition of “net profits.” And it should specify expenses: such as band salaries, accounting, legal and office expenses. However, splitting band profits and losses may not be equitable to all band members under certain circumstances. For instance, where one band member does all the songwriting, is already famous, or invests most of the money in the band, the profits and losses section can have special provisions for that
Publishing: There are a number of options with regard to splitting publishing income. The band agreement can provide that the band will split all music publishing income (writer’s and publisher’s share) equally among the members. Or a more complex formula can be used such as publishing income is shared equally, but songwriter income is to be equally divided among the writers of the composition. It all depends on what is fair under the circumstances. Where one member does no writing or one member does all the writing, the agreement should take this into account. If a band publishing company is set up it can have the worldwide exclusive right to administer and control the copyright ownership in the recorded compositions and the right to enter into sub-publishing agreements or otherwise deal with the copyrights.
Meeting and Voting: The agreement should provide when there will be meetings and may provide that any member can call a meeting. It should also provide what types of things require a majority or unanimous vote. For instance, perhaps it will take a unanimous vote to expel a member, or a majority vote to admit a new member, or for bonuses, or entering into band agreements.
Books and Records: Books and records on the band’s business dealings should be maintained and available for inspection by any band member.
Adding New Member: Adding a new member can often lead to disputes. The procedure for adding a new member should be spelled out in the agreement. It should specify if all members have to agree to a new member. And it should require any new member to agree to the band agreement. In addition, a new member should usually not have any right to income from recordings created before the new member was admitted.
Leaving Member: The agreement can provide for voluntarily or involuntarily (death, disability, being expelled) leaving the band. It should specify what will constitute grounds to expel someone from the group. One possible provision could be that any member who leaves must give 30 days notice and that written notice will be given to any expelled partner. It should also provide what a leaving member is entitled to: share of net worth, royalties, etc.
Binding Arbitration: Providing for binding arbitration of disputes is usually a good idea. You will often have a quicker and less expensive resolution of your dispute. You could also provide for mediation (informal settlement conference with a retired judge) before an arbitration to try and settle without the costs of a binding arbitration.
General Provisions: There are a number of typical provisions included in a band partnership agreement. These include: California law applies to any disputes; email signatures on the band partnership agreement is sufficient; the agreement shall be binding on each member’s successors-in-interest, and if one provision of the partnership agreement is held invalid by an arbitrator or court, the remaining provisions shall remain in effect.
Finally, each band member should have an independent attorney represent him or her with regard to the partnership agreement and each band member should receive a copy of it.
[Reprinted with permission]
ABOUT GLENN T. LITWAK
Glenn T. Litwak is a veteran music and entertainment attorney based in Santa Monica, CA. He has written numerous magazine articles about the music biz. Litwak is also a frequent speaker at music industry conferences around the country, such as SXSW and the Billboard Music in Film and TV Conference or check out his website at www.glennlitwak.com
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:
5 Things I’ve Learned About Having a Career in Music
by Edgar Winter
Rock icon Edgar Winter has been part of the musical landscape since his first album, Entrance, was released in 1970. Four-and-a-half decades later, he is still recording and touring, thrilling audiences with his multi-instrumental proficiency, his searing, yet soulful vocals, and a catalog of hits. When asked for five things he has learned about having a career in the business, he quickly offered five off-the-cuff tips: “Always get paid before the show. Never leave your wallet in the dressing room. Don’t do interviews. Dress like a rock star. Never listen to anyone’s advice, especially mine!” But then he issued five more elaborate responses
Listen to all the greats, regardless of genre. There’s so much great music across rock, blues, classical, jazz, and country, and you should go back and find the early originators/innovators in each style. I feel we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us: My most profound single influence was Ray Charles. I would not be the musician I am today without absorbing and then personalizing his music. But I did that with a lot of musicians across the spectrum. Stay open to it all!
Always look for the best musicians possible. Playing with musicians who are better than you will teach you more, and inspire you to be your best. Conversely, try not to play with musicians who will lead you to develop bad habits. A drummer may have tons of chops and be exciting to play with, but if they don’t have good time it may have a negative influence on your own playing. I’d rather work with a simpler drummer whose time is rock-solid, with a deep groove.
Even though I’ve been playing my songs for a long time now, I try to keep it fresh every night and treat it like it’s the first time. And I leave room for fresh interplay with the band, and to try out new ideas. Before I hit the stage every night I think, “What if this is the last gig I’ll play?” And I commit to give it my all; being able to play for an audience is a gift that I never take for granted.
I’ve heard so many stories from people who regret musical and business decisions they made based on advice from people in power within the industry. Your career is going to be defined by your decisions; think long and hard about the path you take. Make sure it’s something you’ll be comfortable with for the rest of your life. Remember that music is an art form first, and then a business. I don’t define success in the music business as being famous, or making a lot of money. For me the goal is to become as good a musician as I could be, and to look back on what I have done and be happy.
If you love what you’re doing people will sense it. Stay humble: no matter how good you get, there will be somebody out there that will astound you. Be able to accept and be inspired by that. Be grateful for what you have. For me, making music is very rewarding in and of itself. So follow your dream, play the music you truly love, and never give up. You’ll never hear Edgar Winter talking about a farewell tour!
(Reprinted by permission from Keyboard Magazine)
Edgar Winter is working on three new projects: a Broadway musical about Frankenstein’s monster, a book of poetry called The Songs That Never Were, and a series of fantasy short stories called Stories from the Shadowland. And he continues to rock out on the road. Keep up with all his activities at edgarwinter.com.
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:
IAMA Winner Wins Grammy Award, takes the Music World by Storm
by Jessica Brandon
Meghan Trainor who started out as an unknown indie artist, won IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) as a 16 year old, just won Grammy award last night for Best New Artist. She has broken a staggering number of records of IAMA: youngest to win IAMA (at 16), the only IAMA winner to have to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, #1 on the Billboard 200 Charts, and main category Grammy award of Best New Artist. Her hit “All About That Bass” is one of the best-selling single of all time by a debut artist, hitting #1 in 58 different countries (US, UK, etc) and selling over 15 million copies.
This shows you that anything can happen as an indie artist. When Meghan first won IAMA 6 years ago, IAMA entrants laughed when she won. But when she got signed and chalk up one hit after another, they were shocked. She has a total of 6 songs that have hit the Billboard Hot 100 Charts so far and shows no signs of slowing down (Watch her Grammy Acceptance Speech Below).
Meghan Trainor couldn’t hold back her tears While accepting Best New Artist Award, weeping through her acceptance speech. Past Best New Artists winners include: John Legend, Carrie Underwood, Sam Smith and Mariah Carey
“I have to thank L.A. Reid for looking at me as an artist instead of just a songwriter,” she said while accepting the award from presenter Sam Smith, who won the award last year. “And my mom and dad.”
Last year she was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year (both for “All About That Bass”), but lost out on both.
“This is me forever balling my eyes out. Can’t believe what happened”, said Meghan. “My dad whispered “you made it” before I walked up and I lost it. I love my family so much. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you to my team and everyone who got me here. Gonna cry happy tears all night”, said the jubilant Meghan Trainor.
Besides winning the Grammy Award, Meghan has also won two Billboard Music Awards.
MEGHAN IS NOT THE ONLY IAMA WINNER
Meghan Trainor was not the only nominee of IAMA. Ron Korb (this year’s Best Instrumental Winner of the 12th Annual IAMA) was a nominee in the Best New Age Album category. Ricky Kej (this year’s Best Open Winner) won a Grammy Award at last year’s Grammy Awards.
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:
5 Tips to Top Your Mix
A brief insight to some mixing techniques we use that could help you achieve a better end product and how we work here in MixButton.
First – Initial Thoughts
Simply write down your initial thoughts on pen and paper upon listening for the first time, and what direction you feel you want the track to go in. Write down how you want each section to make you feel, and any specific effects you think could work with fresh ears.
This is a simple process that is often overlooked and is great at laying down your initial instincts for the track, instead of figuring out half way through the mix.
There is only one chance for a first impression so you must capitalize on it and capture your ideas from the start.
Second – Mono Image EQ
Many of us want to get the mix sounding good early on, but mixing is a gradual process. A quick pan to the side often misleads your ear into hearing the respective instrument cleaner that it actually is. This is because the instrument is no longer competing in a frequency space.
Without disrupting your individual tracks, make sure the final output bus is in mono and start to EQ the different instruments.
As they are all on top of each other and competing for space, you will find when you treat them you will have to work harder and have to be more precise.
After making sure all instruments can be heard and are working well together, change the final output back to stereo and you will find your mix sounding a lot better.
Third – Fine Automation Key for feeling
It is important to remember that music has to make people feel something, as that is the design of the artist. A big give away of many amateur mixers is that the sections do not really move to each other and so the track does not connect with the listener.
Fine automation on a DAW or fader riding, is crucial with many instruments especially legato style sounds and notes, for example voice or strings. Obviously the performer has a responsibility to give the recording dynamics and movement, but it is also the responsibly of the mixer to bring that to the listeners ear in order that they can connect to the track easily. This is vital with the main vocal.
Fourth – Stereo Bus Cleaning
This is a tip for near the end of your mixing process to deal with any final frequency disruptions or inconsistencies.
On the stereo bus, place any linear EQ and select either a high pass or low pass filter. The idea is to isolate the low or high frequencies at once. For example, a low pass at 300hz would give you a good idea of how the bottom end of your mix is working and if there are any clashing sounds that you need to address. Same concept goes with the high-end frequencies.
Fifth – 1db or not db
Even Shakespeare struggled with the concept of mixing and chose to express this through his play Hamlet.
What he learned was that a mix is rarely transformed with one action or a secret switch that suddenly makes the mix sound good. Rather many little things, each treating individual parts of the track culminating in an overall better mix.
While you may not think 1db here or 2 db there makes a difference in the short-term immediate sound. We have to mix with the vision that these little changes are together affecting the overall sound.
So it is important to be patient with the precision at which you work as many small changes make a big difference.
MixButton (www.mixbutton.com) is online mixing studio for the masses ready to take your music to the next level. Visit the website and listen to some samples to find out what we could do for your music.
For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com