Music industry contracts: band manager contracts, band management contract, music producer contracts

Contracts are the life-blood of the entertainment industry. Considering how many businesses and entities are involved in a bands career, contracts are a necessity albeit cumbersome at times.  If everything was done orally, nobody would know who was obligated to what and in a court of law, the he says she says does not go over very well.  Besides, there are so many logistics involved where one company is working to protect its rights should something go wrong.
Although you may come to agreement orally as to the general terms, you should always reduce the understanding to writing or a contract. There are many reasons why you should get it in writing. First, a contract serves to memorialize the understanding between the parties. As time goes by, the two parties might have different memories as to what constitutes their agreement. By getting it in writing, there are no disputes over what the terms of the contract are.
Written contracts are much more likely to be enforced by a court in the event of disagreement or material breach. Oral agreements are not always enforceable and in some states oral agreements are not legitimate agreements.  But should a judge hear a case in dispute, a judge is much more likely to enforce the terms of a written agreement than an oral one. Basically, in the music business, you should always have a written agreement or contract in place.  A contract need not be elaborate and it isn’t necessarily always drawn up by a lawyer. It does not have to be notarized.
There are a few items which the contract must contain. First, you will identify the two parties that are contracting each other, for instance a club owner wanting your band to perform at his club.  Next you should write down what each part is going to do for the other. Club owner agrees to pay your band $250 to perform at the name of the club on a certain date at a certain time.  Your band then agrees to perform for a certain amount of time on the date requested.   Finally, the document should be signed by both parties. It doesn’t take much to create a contract but it is necessary in case of failed payment or a no show.
The above example is very simplistic, but at least it is something in writing. There is no substitute for a complete contract between parties where all bases are covered including provisions in case of a material breach of contract does occur.  For instance a band can demand payment if the venue owner fails to put on the show, or should the band cause damages to the venue that the owner of the venue will be compensated for the damages.  Although there are many ‘forms’ that can be found that are models and examples of what a contract can look like, there is a danger of using them should you consider just photocopying them and using them for your own. It is crucial that you understand how the contract works before you use it. These ‘generic’ agreements and may not operate the way you expect. Before using any of these form agreements, learn how music contracts operate in general and how each contract works. More than likely the ‘generic’ form will need to be modified to fit your needs.

Whenever an artist is presented with a contract, the terms of the contract are usually plainly spelled out.  However many contracts contain provisions and terms that a band might not understand.  In a performance contract, there are force majeure clauses, indemnification clauses, material breach clauses that must be looked at and understood.  In record contracts, there are other terms that might lock an artist into a contract for longer than the artist wants to be.  If you aren’t sure exactly what you are reviewing then seek the advice of an entertainment lawyer to review and go over the contract before signing anything.  This way you will know exactly what you are signing and the entertainment lawyer may give you advice on how to handle the contract you have received.  Point is, never sign something unless you know what the fine print means.

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