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How does this work, exactly?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by backin82, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I recently auditioned for and got the bass part for a local indie rock group that does their own original music. The lead singer had some health issues and took several years to recover, and in the meantime, their bassist and drummer moved on to other things. They recorded a few albums, simply for the sake of remembering their music. They then decided to give it another shot, and now I'm the new bass player.

    We plan on touring regionally (on weekends) and playing locally about once a month. We already have money coming in from some plays we're getting on MTV and random other licensed stuff, but all that is being re-invested into the band. I'm seeing none of it, and rightly so for the time being.

    I've carved out my niche within the group already, and feel like a contributing member (even though they're sitting on about 40 original songs that I had no part in writing).

    My question: How does money work in a situation like this? I know for the time being that it makes sense for most or all of the money we make on CD sales, tv/movie plays, merch, and gig money will be re-invested back into the band. We've discussed that part. But what happens if we go on tour for a few months or something? Would I need an agent or do some type of negotiation to discuss how pay will be distributed? What happens if we "make it big"? I didn't start the band - I'm just the bass player, so I'm wondering what kind of cut I would get or how to determine what's what. Is there some standard for how all this works?
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I would ask an agent or an attorney. Sure, there are all kinds of different scenarios. But I'll bet there is a fairly standard "template" for things like this.
  3. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    That's what I'm hoping to discover. I'm getting more comfortable with the guys in the group, and I generally trust them, but I need to be very careful going forward. They're pretty established, and the two founders of the group have invested tens of thousands of dollars at this point on rehearsal spaces, gear, recording, cds, promotions, merch, vans/trailer, radio/tv campaigns, etc....

    I know I don't deserve a cut of this current money, but I'll need some kind of guarantee going forward, especially if we ever come to a point where we would have to quit our regular jobs to go on tour. I have a great job at a great company, and the pot would have to be pretty sweet for me to leave.

    Its a fairly crazy deal, but a fun adventure!
  4. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    You have to have a lawyer eventually, but I believe you should definitely be getting paid (in full) for any performances.
  5. It depends - do you have any written agreements/contracts - if not, you should.
  6. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    I'd ask for equal cut of any money from gigs and possibly merc and any future recordings with you on it, even if its a song you had no part in creating but helped to record. Existing recordings w/o you on it is at their discretion. Talk it over with them asking for the above. be courteous about it but firm in what you believe you should get. In my opinion at the very least if they don't consider you a member but more of a hired gun then you should be getting paid for gigs like any other stand-in would be.
  7. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Good advice, everyone. It helps to even get a few ideas on how to discuss it. At this point, I'm fine with personal conversations (up to the point that they don't pay me - then it gets into lawyer territory). I'm fine with that for now, but I'm trying to look forward.

    We all know that just about any group has a 1% chance of "making it big", but I want to be prepared in case we start moving that direction.
  8. The standard is what you all can agree on. Then you need to write it up, get it checked by an attorney (and have it translated into legalese) and sign it. The attorney can check for enforceability and a decent one will point out potential sticking points and circumstances that haven't occurred to you.

    DON'T, DON'T, DON'T rely on good intentions, handshakes and trust. Get it in writing an sign it even if you agree that you're a hired gun and will be paid a flat fee for gigs and recording. If you're working on "spec" which is how most originals projects operate, you are investing time and money and what happens to your equity must be spelled out if you don't want to be treated like an uninvested hire gun when the project goes to s@@t.

    If they become reluctant, indecisive, or hesitant, don't quit your day job and keep your options open.
  9. MajorBuzzkill


    Apr 19, 2013
    I'm in this similar situation as well. I might not an expert, but let me share what kind of deal I have currently.

    I got my share for every gig I play. This band is currently selling CDs in every gig we play. There are different formula for every song. If I play on the recording for a finished song (they had this song already before I join) there is a "player's share". If I contribute in songwrting, there's "player's and idea's share". If I didn't involved in recording or songwriting, there's nothing.

    How's that? Is there any improvements possible for my deal? And yeah, there's a contract.
  10. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Great info, everyone! Keep it coming. Any advice I can get now will just help me figure these things out over the next few months. I'll probably try to discuss this arena with the two guys who started it (they are fairly knowledgeable about the industry).

    I just don't want to get used. I'm fairly confident they wouldn't do that, but not so confident that I won't cover my bases.
  11. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    I would think you should get paid for what you put in to it. Get a lawyer for sure.
  12. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
    I'm no expert on this matter(unfortunately) but there's a difference between receiving writing credits and receiving publishing rights( percentage points on sales even though you didn't write the music) , from what I understand. I think it's used for a variety of reasons but a scenerio would be for an up and coming or unknown band to attract the type of talent required to be competitive in the market such as a producer or a musicianfor recordings or to attract talent within the group itself. Let's take you for example. You're stepping into a situation where you're sacrificing your time and energy to a group with material already written. To be a cohesive member , you probably should go along with the material without demanding to have alot of creative input (at this point, not forever). Should you take this enormous risk of time and energy, forego creative input and writing credit without a potential payoff as well ?
  13. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Great info, man! Thanks.
  14. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Agreed. I'm just trying to define that at this point, and figure out how that is applied on paper via an attorney or something...
  15. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    You can bet the rest of the band has used an attorney.

    Get nailed down exactly what your position is in the band, other than bass player. By that I mean, are you a part owner? If so, how much (%-age) do you own? If you are a part owner, you would have signed some documents to that effect before now.

    If you're not a part owner, you need to clarify exactly what your contribution & compensation are. Chances are, if you divide your time invested by what you're paid, you're coming in well under minimum wage. You have to decide what you're worth - & so do they.
  16. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Right their. Tell them that.

    You get NOTHING unless you ask so whatever you want, whether it is a cut of merch, publishing etc. ASK for it. Then prepare to negotiate!
  17. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    1. Call/contact Robert Shapiro.
    2. advise your bandmates you have done this.

    the rest is a walk in the park... :D
  18. If your situation is like mine the last time I did this, the money gets spent on the tour expenses and invested into the next recording sessions. You don't see any.

    Were you promised any money beyond living expenses on the road?
  19. Stumbo

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

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    +1 for getting paid for your current performances. You deserve it: you're in the band. None of this "I know I deserve not to be paid..."

    By the way, how do you know all the cash is being put back into the band? Did you see the bank statements? Gig contracts?

    Really, everything should have been detailed out in a contract before you started. Now you'll be seen as the bad guy if you speak up. But, speak up you must!

    Since you'll always be the new guy, they'll have no trouble replacing you anytime you speak out or want to change things.

    Find an entertainment lawyer, get a consultation and then do what he/she says.
  20. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    +1 on getting a lawyer and/or agent and sorting all this out in a written contract.

    IMO you have no right to expect income from sales of recordings you didn't contribute to.

    But if you're a full band member, you should expect an equal share of everything you do contribute to - any new recordings, live performances and merch sales.

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