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Band about to sign manager contract. My name isn't on it, only songwriters. Red flag?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Marginalized, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. Marginalized


    Oct 29, 2013
    Hi, my apologies that this is my first post. This seems to be the most active music forum on the web, so I thought I'd try this question here.

    Long story short, I've been a full member of a 5 piece original band for nearly 8 years. For most of those years we were not really making money - we had a sizeable local fan base and got great local press in a major city, but never got that big break to go to the next level. I stuck by them because I loved playing the music, but also because I still believed in the project's potential to "make it". In the meantime I gave up a solid public sector job so that I could do things like stay out at gigs until 2am, and I've barely been making ends meet in a hospitality job. Fast forward to 2 years ago, and things finally started happening. A few national tours, a publishing contract, some national press. No record label.

    So our band had always been made up of 5 full-time members: 2 song-writers/leaders, 3 long-time permanent members who were not song-writers. In the past few months, however, the other two non-songwriting permanent members left (one for family, one for career). The band now consists of the two songwriters, me, and two hired guns. It seems that the songwriters/leaders are satisfied with having those 2 positions be hired hands, for now.

    This puts me in the awkward position of now being the ONLY permanent member who is not a songwriter. The album we just released, and now our Facebook page, lists the band members as the two songwriters plus myself. But I feel like I'm occupying this hazy region in between being a full-time member and being a hired hand. We recently had to do a publicity photo, and there was some hesitation on the part of the two songwriters (who are long-time best friends, I should add) on whether to include me in the photos. Ultimately I was included, but it was clear to me that they don't know exactly how to handle me - they know they need to treat me as a permanent member in order to keep me around, but I think they would love to be able to just call themselves a duo with a hired-gun backing band, at this point.

    A word on the publishing contract - only the two of them are named on the contract with the actual publishing company, as they are the songwriters, but I have a written band agreement with them that I share in a fraction of the profits. Nothing has been made from this yet, though the advance did fund some band things. We also have an agreement to share equally in gig profits and merch sales.

    Now, after a trial period, the team that has been acting as the band's managers for the past few months has presented us with a management contract. It's been vetted by a music lawyer, and it seems to be on the verge of being signed. And it's sitting in the band email account that I have access to, so it's not some secret, backroom deal. They know I've been able to read it.

    Here's the thing: the wording of the contract lists "the artist" as songwriter A and songwriter B. No mention of me. I do intend to bring this up with them, but not before I do some research and figure out how concerned I should be here.

    I am not sure how to take this. I see a few possibilities:

    1) This is really bad news for me in terms of future contracts. It puts me in the position of sideman forever more, even though I've never been a sideman (playing many gigs for free over the years, recording for free, etc).

    2) This is not only really bad news for me, but they may be passively trying to get rid of me and go towards a band model where they are the band and everyone else is a hired gun. As in: they're not going to ask me to leave, but if I leave because of this, so be it. They are constantly assuring me that they value my contribution and think of me as family, but... we all know that success can change things in an instant. I tend to not believe this scenario, but ... you just never know, with bands.

    3) As long as I have an acceptable intra-band agreement with them that deals with the question of who profits what if we should ever land lucrative deals via this management team, it is okay. Maybe it's even standard for not all permanent band members to be listed on a management contract.

    4) It's *better* for me not to be on this contract - less legal hassle down the line. Although the contract stipulates that the managers only take a share from our earnings with this band, so it's not as if it would complicate things for me if I chose to teach music, play in other bands, etc. But...maybe there is some benefit to me to *not* be entangled in this contract?

    I just don't if, when I broach this subject with them, I should come from a position of "What the hell is this?" or "Hey guys, noticed I'm not named on the contract, it's cool - but we should start talking about a more thorough band agreement".

    Has anyone ever been in this position? Is this normal (not naming all permanent band members on such a contract) or am I getting screwed? I just have no idea how to view this.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. randyripoff


    Jul 12, 2008
    Why would you be signing a contract that doesn't have your name on it? Also, what is the label going to do for your band that isn't being done now?

    Reading between the lines, it sounds to me like your songwriters will ultimately push you out the door. Maybe they aren't telling you this to your face, but as the other members of the band are hired guns that they are happy with and you are not writing any songs and could easily be replaced by a hired gun, why do they need you?

    Sorry if this comes off a tad harsh but it doesn't sound like you're an indispensable part of this project. Do you play any role in writing the songs, i.e. coming up with an arrangement for your instrument?
  3. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    You are a hired gun.

    If they move up more powerful people will become involved. People who don't want non-essential obligations.

    It probably won't be the songwriters, but someone WILL push you out the door if this goes far enough.

    If you want to approach it I suggest being honest and direct.

    "I'm afraid I'm being forced out, I need reassurance that I won't be dropped because some guy in a suit says so". Let them stew on making an offer.
  4. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Wow... Seems to me you are in a pickle here.
    Not to sound negative, but I see you in your #2 scenario.
    Unless you start co-writing some, you seem destined to be of the hired gun variety.
    Backing musicians can come and go as long as the songwriting core is there.

    I wouldn't take the "what the hell is this" approach with them, but for your own sake you need some clarity in writing from the leaders and in this contract.
  5. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'd start looking for another band.
  6. TIP: Never sign any contracts until after you’ve first had your personal attorney check it out and advise you. Also IMO, the songwriters don't see you as an equal, making you more equal with the hired guns - so stop working for free and start charging for your services.

    PS: Welcome to TB. :)
  7. Runlikegregg


    Dec 31, 2011
    whichever situation you are actually in, you need to have an honest conversation about it. It is better to do that before any contract is signed and before money starts to be an issue.
  8. Marginalized


    Oct 29, 2013
    Sorry if I was unclear. They seem to be about to sign it, not me. There is no label, this is just for a management team (two guys who co-run this management co). The rest of what you say is kind of my fear, and has been at various junctures in my time with this band, but everytime it comes out there's this rush to say "No no no, we love you, we'd be lost without you, blah blah blah". And I'm made to feel like I'm just being paranoid and insecure. As to whether I'm indispensible - I'm not, but neither am I easily replaced. I actually do write really intricate "other instrument" arrangements for the songs that our band is kind of known for. I know there are other people who can do this (not many - you don't just put up a Craigslist ad for what I do, but they exist), but the thing that sucks for me is knowing that none of those other people would have stuck by this band in the lean years, as I did. All that may not matter now that there is some success coming.

    Thanks, you're not being harsh, I'm hoping for the blunt answers.
  9. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    If you're not mentioned in the contract at all, I'd bail immediately. These guys don't deserve your free input and hard work for the privilege to be booted at the next convenient interlude.
  10. Marginalized


    Oct 29, 2013
    Yeah. That's probably best. The thing is that whenever I've said anything like that before, I get treated like I'm being really paranoid. I was thinking of saying something like "Listen. It makes me uneasy that my name is not on this contract. If that's the way you guys want to do it, then I need some kind of new band agreement between the three of us that states that I'm still a full member, not a hired gun, and that spells out what my share is if this should ever lead to something more lucrative". I think that's kind of a version of what you're saying.
  11. randyripoff


    Jul 12, 2008
    If you're writing complex arrangements not just for your own instrument but for others as well, I'd call that important. I'd talk to the songwriters and do everything you can to nail down the business end of things between the three of you. Maybe you should be getting a songwriting credit for your arrangements? I don't know enough about the intricacies of all that to understand if you'd have a case or not.

    Anyway, I would say first case of business is get something in writing from the songwriters about your exact role in the band. Also, tell them exactly what you've told us--it could be that they aren't thinking about the effect this will have on you if they sign this contract without you.
  12. Marginalized


    Oct 29, 2013
    Thanks. I'm still hoping to work something out. There's a big winter tour being planned, and I love touring and would like to be a part of it. But at the same time, if indeed I am being subtly pushed out, it's not the end of the world if I do leave this band. It's been a long haul with them (8 years!), maybe it's time.

    Another weird thing is, and a reason I don't know that I should just accept that they're trying to get rid of me, is that they're planning on doing a video that's starring me. As in, I'm going to be the only human being in this video. It's not going to be shot for a couple of months. So why would they actively try to push me out at the same time that they're in the planning stages for a video that will forever feature the person they're pushing out? I have the most confusing band in the world, that's for sure. I guess I really just need to talk to them (again) and find out where they're at with this. I just wasn't sure if this situation was normal or not (sounds like it's not normal). These responses have been helpful in letting me know I'm not just being paranoid, thanks.
  13. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    Sounds like you're a long-term hired gun,
    and won't be getting any credit for melody or arrangements.
    I was in the same position, and finally refused to involve myself in the writing process.
  14. cbrophy


    Nov 11, 2009
    Central MA.
    There should be a band agreement on exactly what your share of the band is...1/3 partnership, receiving x amount of profit from gigging, album sales, merchandise etc. They will have their own "Publishing deal", i.e. they will realize any profits from song royalties, as they should, for being the song writers.
  15. if these guys are your bros, like you've toured together, shat together, laughed & cried, etc., then you should be able to just talk to them over a nice cold beer during the football game and just ask them outright, "hey, this whole contract thing, my name's not on it, but you guys know I'm in this for the long haul, what do you think about it? I know I ain't writing songs, but isn't that part of publishing, not management ?"

    just be friends with them, and ask them about it. whatever you do, don't get all hot headed about it, that will make things worse.
  16. hellboy


    Nov 5, 2002
    Yeah, sounds like you need to stick up for yourself.

    That's a good start. I'd also say something like "I've been an important member of this band for years, I've put in a lot of sweat equity playing unpaid gigs, and I've made important contributions to the arrangements. I need to know that you recognize that, and that needs to be in writing."

    And here's the important part - if they tell you you're worried for nothing, that you're being paranoid, if they in any way minimize your concerns, don't put up with it. If you don't get something *IN WRITING* that you feel completely comfortable with (and that a lawyer you trust is comfortable with), walk. They're not your friends if they're not willing to take care of you and address your needs, and that means something substantive, not just vague reassurances. If they're not responsive to you now, then as soon as there's actually some real money on the table it'll be very easy for them to rationalize some reason to push you out.

    A lot of "creative" people are, unfortunately, all too willing to take advantage of other people's goodwill and hard work in order to advance their own dreams of being recognized for the Princess Snowflake they are. That may not be what's happening here, but they need to make that clear - in action, not words - and you shouldn't be afraid to walk away if need be, because as long as you are you're not negotiating, you're begging.
  17. Joebone

    Joebone Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Los Angeles
    +1. You really have no choice other than to push the issue, unless you want to invest further time and energy with no firm prospect of any return. It sucks, but it is the way of the world.

    Reminds me of early Chicago - the songwriters in the band reportedly started buying Mercedes-Benzes when the royalties started coming in, while the rest of the band was still in VWs.

    Good luck.
  18. Runlikegregg


    Dec 31, 2011
    that sounds very logical to me. and appropriate.
  19. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    I'm likely being very cynical here, but it's within the realm of possibility that this video, in a couple of months, is simply a way to keep you on board and serving their interests for less money than they'd be paying a hired gun.

    It would be interesting to know how much they are currently paying you versus the hired hands.

    Welcome to TB and I hope that you're not being marginalized!
  20. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    I'm sorry that you gave up a good public sector job for your buddies that are forcing you out (not if but when).

    The management contract should be for "the band" including you, not just the two songwriters.

    I suggest you seek your own attorney. Possibly TBr Music Attorney may chime in.

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