Five reasons why you need music contract and legal advice
There are various music contracts and copyright issues that mean getting proper legal advice from the outset could prove invaluable to your career in the long run.
1. Protect Your Brand
As an artist or band, you should consider protecting your band name and logo with a trade mark. The same applies if you are a record label, PR company, label services company or any other start-up business in the music industry. This allows you to control the goodwill and reputation in your brand and allows you to exploit it to the exclusion of others.
You should also ensure you have registered your domain name for your website.
If you have commissioned a third party to create your logo, website, artwork or a video, have you made sure they have assigned the copyright and ownership to you in writing? Sometimes this is not always clear and they may just provide you with an invoice.
Deaks Music Law can work with you to ensure you have these protections and agreements in place from the beginning.
2. Create a Band Agreement
It’s never too early to create a band agreement to set out what the members can and can’t do, the ownership of copyright between the members and what happens if a member leaves or joins.
You may not realise, but as a band you are already in a partnership agreement, even if you do not have a written contract. There are certain rules that will automatically apply to your group, which may not always be suitable in your circumstances. Therefore, it’s always advisable to get a band agreement put into writing and to get legal advice on this.
Deaks Music Law can provide you a simple band agreement template that is tailored according to your needs.
3. Set Out Your Relationship with Your Music Manager
A management agreement is one of the most important contracts to get right in your music career. You should always ensure you get independent legal advice, separate from your manager's legal representation.
The agreement should explicitly provide certain terms, including the term or duration of the agreement, whether it's exclusive and for what territory, the obligations of both manager and artist, the commission rate the manager will charge and whether they will expect a commission after the agreement has ended.
We can always review the terms you have been sent by a manager or provide a template agreement according to your requirements.
4. Take ownership of Your Intellectual Property
You should ensure you have your 'house in order' in terms of acquiring all the relevant copyright and other IP rights, so that you can exploit and licence your work to third parties.
For example, on a recording you may have additional performers on the track and you may have also engaged a producer and a mixer to work on the recording. You should ensure that they have assigned their copyright to you from the outset, in order to exploit the recording further down the line.
Deaks Music Law can work with you to establish what rights and contracts you need and provide an IP 'M.O.T' service.
5. Get Legal Advice Before You Sign On The Dotted Line...
“Well, I just signed it because the parts I understood seemed fine” - “We just agreed it over some drinks as a 'gentlemen's agreement', they were a good friend and I trusted that it would be OK”
Where there is money or a contract involved, you should get initial legal advice before you begin any work. A lot of artists are understandably excited if they are approached by a label or a publisher and could be tempted to sign something straight away, as they don’t want to miss the opportunity.
The same can apply to a producer or mixer approached to work on some tracks, or perhaps remix a track.
Seeking legal advice, even just for a lawyer to check over the terms and advise on whether the deal is reasonable or not could prove extremely beneficial. Ensuring you get the terms correct and agreed at the beginning of a project could save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run.