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The Business of Being in a Rock Band

By June 13th, 2022No Comments

If you were preparing to start a new business, one of your first moves would likely be to sit down with a trusted adviser and your key partners to organize and set your objectives. You might consult with a lawyer to recommend the right entity structure and draft agreements, or to help you anticipate the potential legal risks and pitfalls that you will need to avoid in the future. But, what if your startup business is a rock band that you formed in your garage and your business partners are only interested in creating music? Ignoring the business of working as a songwriter or performer in rock, country, blues, or any other genre of music could cause you to hit some very sour notes down the line.

Are you serious about creating original music and taking it on the road to share with the world? If so, it’s a good idea to start treating your band like a business so that you have a plan for resolving conflicts with other members, protecting your long-term interests, getting paid and paying your fair share of taxes.

Here are a few suggestions.

  • Start with creating a business structure and an operating agreement between band members for making management decisions, signing contracts, handling money and getting paid.
  • Don’t expect a venue owner to write you separate checks. Include terms and procedures for members to join or exit the group.
  • Decide who owns your instruments, equipment, and touring vehicle.
  • Decide which members own the rights to your band’s music and make sure that you copyright your songs.
  • Ensure that you have appropriate resources to review contracts for gigs, publishing, licensing and recording deals.

For many musicians, these issues can be headaches, but ignoring them only leads to greater problems down the road. Some bands split up before realizing their potential and others surrender their long-term profits and creative interests, never enjoying the full rewards of their success.
Let’s be honest, most musicians are built a little different, but creativity doesn’t have to be sacrificed for success. With the right planning and guidance, you can rock while you’re ready for success and avoid many of the legal problems that otherwise might start to emerge, just as your songs are climbing the charts.

Originally featured in the Journal Record.