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Need some legal advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Shaun_Bass0, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Shaun_Bass0


    Aug 11, 2008
    Berkshire, UK
    I just left a band where I wrote 80% of the material, and have told the guys out of courtesy that everything I have written I will be taking with me. My problem is that we did release an album through an indie label, and in my naiviety I signed a publishing contract where everything was split 5 ways, 20% each. Hey, we were gonna be massive rockstars soon, what did it matter?!. You know the feeling!

    Am I right to take any and all material that is (morally at least) mine, or have I effectively lost a bunch of song i bust my @$$ working on because i'm an idiot who was too quick to sign?

    Cheers guys,
  2. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Couple of things...

    1) In the US at least, it's illegal to give someone else legal advice if you're not licensed to practice law
    2) I can give you my opinion only, but it might not be helpful, depending on where you live (the "Cheers" makes me think Britain, but your profile doesn't say)

  3. Shaun_Bass0


    Aug 11, 2008
    Berkshire, UK
    Ok, just "need advice then"...and yea, you guessed right with the UK!
  4. Hi.

    While I didn't know it was against the law to do so in US (thanks Dave), a musician discussion forum is hardly the place to get sound legal advice, IMHO.

    Contact Your local musician union, they'll know the facts.

    If You already wrote 80% of something worth an album, you most likely can create some more? It's not like You gave your everything and are now dry, is it?
    The crappy "original" stuff I wrote back in the stone age (80s ;))would fill an EP. Not that anyone in their right mind would buy that, but still.

    Be productive, write some new stuff, combine that with the old or make new arrangements.

    Just my 0.02€
  5. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    In that case, my non-legal advice is to go see a lawyer. Many will not charge for the initial consultation. If you're attached to these songs, even if s/he does charge, it's worth the £100 it'll cost you to find out what your options are. Bring all the paperwork you have, especially anything you signed. How's your relationship with your bandmates and your label? Does your contract say anything about what happens if a member, especially a key man like you, leaves the band? Depending on your contract, none of you may own the songs and you couldn't take them with you because the label owns them. It all depends on your contract.
  6. you can normally have half an hour or so with a lawyer for free in uk. Do that!

    But it's a signed deal mate, whoever signed that contract, thats who they belong to, theres nothing stoppin you from playin the songs again, though you may need permission to put one of the songs out again... likewise for them.
    I'm pretty sure thats right.

    Nothing can stop them playing the songs live though.

    Just e-mail the lawyers you used.... They should tell you propper!

    Hope thats helpful mate.
  7. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    The songs are PUBLISHED. That means that anyone can perform them in a licensed venue. They can also apply for a mechanical license to record them. I can perform them if I want - you can't do very much to stop me... Simlarly so can you, and your ex-band.

    However, in return, you/they receive ROYALTIES... That's what your publishing deal was. In practise your royalties may be so close to zero you never actually see any, but that's what you signed. In the unlikly event your ex-band start making any money from your songs, then you get some cash, and visa versa.

    It seems strange that you signed a publishing contract, yet aren't familiar with the basics of the law behind that deal. I sugguest you dig out the contract and read it, or get someone with more legal experience to read it to you.

    (I thought it was only illegal to charge for legal advice, and/or pass yourself off as a lawyer - anything else is just opinion).
  8. Beyer160


    Dec 20, 2008
    IanStephenson has it right- you signed away 80% of any potential publishing income from those songs to your ex bandmates.

    In the '90s, a songwriter named Susan Gibson was in a Texas band called the Groobees that had the same 5-way publishing split. Gibson wrote a song for the band called "Wide Open Spaces" that later became a massive hit for the Dixie Chicks after the Groobees had broken up, but the publishing deal still applied. So, she lost 80% of the zillions of publishing dollars that hit produced.

    There's an argument for splitting publishing that way- it helps distribute income more equally, which is important when you're startig out. REM and U2 publish their songs that way, which is fine as long as the band stays together. It's when the band splits up and the songs have a financial life after the band that things get sticky.
  9. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    All good advice, and the last part is 100% correct.

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