Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!! Contracts are an essential part of the music industry. Not only do they protect you as a band, they actually help things get done more efficiently. Musicians think of lots of great reasons why they shouldn’t bother with contract – especially indie bands. Have any of these ideas crossed your mind?:
- I’m working with my friends, and I trust everyone implicitly. Why would we need a contract?
- I’m too much of an artist for things like contracts. Contracts are for the guys in suits. I’m not doing this for money – I’m doing it for the love of the music.
- Working with friends can be very difficult. When something doesn’t go right, not only is it frustrating professionally, it is frustrating on a personal level. Working together can destroy friendships.
- You may not care about the money now – until you think that there is actually some money floating around out there that was made off of your music. When that happens, you’ll care, you’ll want your proper share and you won’t want anyone else taking more than their share.
Contracts are useful for all of these reasons. First of all, they let everyone know exactly where they stand. A contract spells out what someone’s role is, what their responsibilities are, and what they will be paid for their work. Contracts can truly save friendships – when you’re working with a friend, if a problem arises, you have your initial agreement to fall back on. There is no room for disagreements. Contracts also protect you and ensure you get everything to which you are entitled. Even if there really is no money involved now, there could be sometime down the line. Now is the best time to decide how that money will be handled and divided. Oh, and don’t fall for that old “I don’t care about the money” stuff. Artists need money, too. They need money so they can continue to make their art. Protecting your financial assets is an investment in your artistic vision, not a step over to the dark side.
But what about contracts between band members. Is that really necessary? Well, it could be. Who writes the songs in your band? Are there band members who do all of the creative legwork, and other band members who just show up and play? If you start to make money, do you want everyone to be paid the same, no matter what their role, or do you want the songwriter to make more money? What about money that goes into the band? Does everyone contribute equally? How and when will that money be paid back? These kinds of questions can easily be addressed by a contract; answering them now can save your from some pretty messy headaches down the line.