When The Music Stops: Best Practices For Band Agreements

By Matthew Wilson (October 15, 2018, 6:54 PM EDT) -- The American journalist and cultural gadfly Hunter S. Thompson once described the music business as "a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." That's anything but a ringing endorsement, to be certain. As a writer for Rolling Stone, Thompson echoed the sentiments of artists that resented the power of the record companies and distrusted the kingmaker-businessmen ("suits") that accompanied them. Fast forward to 2018 and the landscape has substantially changed. The term "sell out" mostly applies to ticket sales, and artists such as Taylor Swift are cheered for demonstrating savvy business acumen. Generally speaking, the "music business" is no longer a pejorative term. Important matters such as liability shields, insurance, tax-planning, and brand protection are prioritized by the business-focused artist. At the same time, Page Six and TMZ are littered with stories about fights and lawsuits among band members concerning business-related issues. The likely cause? Far too many artists, along with their professional advisers, continue to disregard what should be the most basic, if not the most critical, business concern related to any group: the partnership. The recent news about Lindsey Buckingham suing Fleetwood Mac after he was kicked off the tour and out of the band demonstrates the problems that can arise when a group lacks a written partnership agreement....

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