What did Ian Faith in Spinal Tap not teach you about music management?

pb-580-bwhs2So like Ian Faith  he or she carries a cricket bat, smokes a fat cigar and promises to “make you a star” – what else do you need?  The answer, or at least one of the answers, is a well-balanced, written management contract.

In the rapidly changing world of the music industry, where artists sign endorsement deals before record deals and release apps before albums, the contract between an artist and their manager is becoming increasingly important.

Ultimately, the negotiation of a music management contract will be determined by the relative bargaining power of the artist and the prospective manager.  However, here are the top 5 most important terms in a music management contract, together with the key questions that you should ask yourself when considering those terms:

  1. Duration – how long does the contract last?  Is there an initial trial period?  Can the contract be terminated early if your prospective manager fails to secure you a recording, publishing or other deal within a set period of time?
  2. Manager’s obligations – what is your prospective manager agreeing to do for you?  What level of commitment is he/she giving to advancing your career?  Is there anything that your prospective manager wishes to exclude as an obligation?
  3. Scope – which aspects of your career, and therefore potential revenue streams, will your prospective manager be responsible for?  Does your prospective manager have the skills, contacts and resources to look after all of these aspects?
  4. Commission – what percentage of your income will your prospective manager receive?  Have you ensured that you only pay commission on income that you actually receive?  Which costs and expenses can you deduct from your gross income before calculating commission payable?
  5. Expenses – which of your prospective manager’s expenses are you agreeing to pay?  Is there any cap on your prospective manager’s expenses?

In practice, the actual relationship between the artist and their manager is crucial and, from Colonel Tom Parker to Peter Grant, Allen Klein to Malcolm McLaren, music history is filled with larger than life managers who have been fundamental to the success of their artists.  However, it is essential that this key relationship is recorded properly in a written management contract so that both parties can focus on furthering the artist’s career with confidence and certainty.

For more information on management agreements or for any other music law advice please contact Pete Bott  on 0113 227 9284.  You can also follow Pete on Twitter (@PeteLawBlacks) for regular music law and music industry news updates.

Pete Bott
Solicitor
Music, Media & Entertainment
Twitter: @PeteLawBlacks
E-mail: PBott@LawBlacks.com
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