Member Sacked and Wants a Piece of Future Revenue

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mrcbass, May 14, 2018.

  1. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I knew this kind of stupidity existed, but this is my real encounter.

    I play with an Original Jazz Fusion + band. We've got about 25 songs that are on the edge of being ready for public consumption. We've ben talking about tossing in some standards/real book stuff to 1)add some time and 2) add diversity to our options to play out. We have recorded about a dozen demos with him, a couple of them are truly worthy of sharing, the rest are good enough to demonstrate or sound and versatility. We have not played out yet or generated any revenue.

    We've been a four piece (KB -BL songwriter, guitar, bass and drums) since November. We've been very frustrated with our guitar player ability to show up to rehearsals on time and to remember parts - he seems to think we're ready to play out, but play most of the songs without spending too much time reviewing his charts (which never seem up to date) or fiddling with his pedals. His solos are very sporadic - some days he just nails it, but more often he just flails. He can't read music and has no interest in playing standards. Drummer and I have been quietly lobbying to dump him for about three months, but BL tried to be patient, so it just kept dragging out. BL finally had enough and sacked him last week. We're planning on moving forward as a trio and featuring soloist (horns) - no immediate plans to add another guitar.

    He wasn't pleased (understandably), but seemed to take it properly- we got a "it's been fun" test from the next day (Wed). We responded in kind "to bad it didn't work out...", "best of luck", yada, yada.

    Friday night he start sending us texts "demanding" 25% of everything we might make in the future on songs he played on. If they were on albums and released, sure, we'd continue to give the cut he would have been getting. We have nothing in writing stating anything about rights- BL sent KB version of the tunes in for copywriting and has verbalized that we'll all split any income equally.

    BL told him this and then fired guy started going off about how he lost 6 months of his life working on this stuff. He actually spent more than that (KB, guitar and I started in July last year), but has really little contribution to any of the substance of the music. We can just cut his stuff out and most of the songs will sound just fine. Ironically, there are couple of "signature" parts that we probably would have used and given him credit for before he pulled his nonsense, but now we'll just reformat the song to not feature his stuff.

    It's frustrating for us because we really were right on the verge of being ready to play out, but we were just wasting everybody's time. We could've got back to speed pretty quickly if we could have just focused on a list of standards, but now we have to work on our demos so we have something to show without guitar.

    BL's not worried. I'm mostly just sharing, but would appreciate any advise on what possible legal action our obtuse buffoon might try to throw at us?
  2. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    Unless he has writing credits on pieces that are copywritten, I don't think he has the ability to make such a claim.
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  3. There are two issues: one is song writing credits, and the second is performance credit for any recordings.
    Let’s start with performance credits. If you edit him out or re-record the parts with another guitarist then he has no claims to any money for the recordings. If you do sell a recording he played on then you should pay him whatever was agreed to. If there was no specific agreement, he’ll likely claim what he “thought” you promised him. No use fighting it, just come to a fair agreement.
    Song writing credits are trickier. You’ll have to take it song by song. Did he contribute a major part of the song? Then he should get a major part of the revenues. This is all subjective, there is no objective test. In the end you have to ask, what with a reasonable person think Wes his contribution? Best thing to do would be to have a meeting with him and go through it song by song, And make sure he understands you’re only talking about writing credits.
  4. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Let him try to find a lawyer that will take his case. :rollno:

    It will cost him too much money to hire a lawyer just to draft a letter, or provide any other legal communication.
  5. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    You could and probably should do what everyone else does: tell him to take you to court if he wants a cut. He won’t and can’t. Costs way too much. You guys are at least removing his parts. Most wouldn’t even bother doing that.

    He’s got nothing in writing, so you’re done talking.
  6. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    If he didn't write melodies or lyrics, he's got nothing as far as writing goes. Signature licks are generally not gonna fall under musical copyright. You're not gonna sell the demos, so there's nothing to be had there. Get another guitarist for any salable recordings and just be done with him.
    RSBBass, Flabass, Amano and 2 others like this.
  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    That pretty much covers it.
    Loring likes this.
  8. soulman969

    soulman969 Inactive

    Oct 6, 2011
    Englewood, Colorado
    If there is no written contract spelling out an arrangement and he's being a dick about it I suggest you send him this.

    kobass, Flabass, Sixgunn and 4 others like this.
  9. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    I might try ONCE to handle it a bit more diplomatically. After that, throw down the gauntlet.
    Aqualung60 likes this.
  10. ficelles

    ficelles Inactive

    Feb 28, 2010
    Devon, England
    I get performance payments for anything I have played on, as long as I have registered a claim for the track with either BMI or PPL. I also get writing payments for a few tracks on which I was composer, co-composer or arranger, that I have registered.

    On the last album I played on I came up with most of the bass lines except where the two composers wrote specific lines, but I haven't pressed for any writing credit as a) it was such a minor contribution and b) the album is anyway never going to be a high volume seller.

    The key thing is though that organisations like BMI or PPL provide a framework for making a claim, as long as the material is known to them.

    Of course this is pretty much irrelevant for unreleased demo material... but you can tell the guy to register a claim with BMI as and when the material is released for sale. Might take some of the immediate confrontation away and you can always contest the claim when it happens.
    MDBass, BMGecko, 74hc and 1 other person like this.
  11. With exception of any copy-written songs where he has a writing credit, he's on his own.

    I say just wipe his contributions off the songs where he just "wails/flails/etc" without any meaningful contribution and move along...

    Musical life is too short for grumpy people.
    MEKer and Flabass like this.
  12. Ductapeman

    Ductapeman Ringmaster and Resident Geriatric Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2016
    The West Pole
    I started life as a drummer, but I got better
    This boy watches too much Judge Judy-- and didn't pay attention to who lost--
    RSBBass, BMGecko, Flabass and 2 others like this.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member


    this is where i have trouble understanding some folks and their take on copyright. what is a major part of a song? a lick? a groove? a guitar line or a bass line? those items may be a major part of a recording, but not of the underlying work = the song/tune.

    each copyright consists of:
    • A musical composition consists of music, including any accompanying words. The author of a musical composition is normally the composer of the work along with the lyricist (if the lyricist and composer are separate). A musical composition can be in the form of a notepad copy (such as sheet music) or in the form of a phonorecord (tape, CD, LP, etc.)
    • A sound recording (or master recording) results from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds. The author of the sound recording is typically the performer(s), the record producer, or both.
    What is music copyright?

    OP: good luck with your project! :thumbsup:
    Ductapeman and mrcbass like this.
  14. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    You could tell him piss off and not worry about getting sued at this point. However, if you get a recording deal and/or start making some serious money later on, it may interest an attorney down the road since there’s then an opportunity for some money to be had.

    Best get it all settled and put to bed now.

    I’d definitely re-record or edit him out if your present recordings. And ket him know that’s what you’re going to do.

    I also don’t know how it works where you are. But in my state a verbal contract can be binding depending on the circumstances. So don’t just assume it always needs to be in writing until you get some professional legal advice.
  15. Wilmingtonian


    Aug 20, 2011
    Just tell him what you told us. Or show him this thread. Plus, don't worry about lawyers. None will take his 'case.'
  16. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    What has been said above about copyright applies, so no problem for you with any of that. The other thing to remember is that even big time songwiters (Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass," aren't making publishing royalties these days. Between free downloads, Youtube, etc., even if you became a national sensation there most likely would be tens of dollars at stake here.
    Flippy and davidprice like this.
  17. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    Foxtrot Oscar.

    If you use a recording with him on it, commercially, then fair enough, he's entitled to revenue from the sound recording.

    However, as it's "not ready for public consumption", then simply remove the guitar from the recording (assuming you used a multi-track DAW. Bit more difficult for a live recording). Assuming that his only compositional element in any of the songs is the guitar-lines, not any part(s) of the actual song, then he's entitled to zip, zilch, nada.
    MEKer and Ductapeman like this.
  18. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks all for confirming what I expected was the case. There wasn't even ever any verbal contract - just a passing statement from the BL that we'd all share revenues equally - no handshakes or anything like that.

    With his ******** approach to this, he lost any chance he may have had in appearing on any of our releases.

    I went through and listened to all of our stuff yesterday identifying anything that he might have had creative input on. There are like two songs where he contributed a un specified line that helped shape the song. He probably would have got his 25% credit on those tunes if we ever released them as they were - but not now his parts will be left on his guitar tracks that we are going to try to get him just to shut him up. Most of his presence is his peddle board which he really relies on and of course his hit and miss solos.

    This is my goal. Our BL took off on a 2 week vacation right after we sacked him and I don't want to step out of line in his absence. Other than the drama, this really affects me very little. I bantered a little with him on his texts on Saturday - mostly to let him know that the BL is not alone in this argument.

    I've informed the recording engineer of our drama (yes, the drama queen had already contacted him requesting our material) and requested that he either send me the stems or to provide us with a mixdown without guitar as well as the guitar tracks alone. Once we get that, it won't take us long to clean up the demos. It's just a lot of work for the engineer. The recording unit he uses doesn't have an easy stem export function like some of the newer daw tools do - he has to master each stem out. Luckily he's a friend helping us for "fun" so it won't cost us a bunch, but he's just super busy right now.

    I'm really not concerned about legal issues - just don't want his stupid drama to linger - we have enough work to do to get back to "ready" right now.
  19. If there’s no written contract and nothing’s been copyrighted, tell him to go pound sand. He has no provable claim against you, period.
  20. T Bassman

    T Bassman

    Dec 13, 2010
    This is the reality of the situation. Id ignore him completely from here out and move fwd with your art project as you and your mates see fit.
    InhumanResource and Slater like this.
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