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serious opportunity- what to know legally

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by hernameisrio, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    So I might have an opportunity with a pretty serious (read: signed to a label, making money, some kind of TV/commercial deal that I don't know the details of yet) band. A friend of mine has recommended me and is essentially acting as a sort of booking agent for me. He's asked for a percentage of whatever money I make.

    I don't know how conventional that is or what that entails legally. I don't have a problem with it, but I just want to make sure my @$$ is covered and that I can draw up a contract with him. I mean, I should...right?

    Which leads me to my next point. In general, for a serious situation like this, as somebody new to the game, what are some questions I should be asking here to find out more about the legal/money/logistics end of things? What are some things I should be thinking about in order to protect myself and/or make myself more accessible/marketable?

    If anyone has any advice, that would be great. If you want to PM me, that's even better. I kinda don't want to turn this into a thread where people debate the legal ins and outs of the music business. I just need some background information from people who are directly experienced in this regard, and some idea of things I need to know before I sign anything and/or start giving it serious time, money, and energy.

    I do have close friends I can talk to as well, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to bounce it off you guys too. <3 Thanks!
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    What kind of % is he talking? One time fee or % of residuals (which he has no business getting, IMHO).

    If it was me, I'd give him $100 and call it a day.
  3. Take it to a lawyer that specializes in these matters. If it involves TV, your're gonna need one anyway.
  4. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    In no uncertain terms, DO THIS.
  5. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Is he a friend? Try to work it out with him in the form af a
    "one time referal fee". Then you'll have no ties to him.

    Get it in writing.
  6. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    I'm not sure. I do feel like if he's talking about a one time fee, it makes more sense to just do the math accordingly and cough up, then sign off on it.

    The other thing I'm wondering about is getting a deposit up front, as this gig- if I land it- would involve me possibly leaving my job and relocating. Which is some pretty heavy change for me right now, and I would need to have some kind of financial cushion there.
  7. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I've been referred gigs and referred others to gigs. Never asked for a penny or been asked for one in 2 decades.

    This is one of those situations where you buy your friend some drinks, take him/her out for dinner, and do favors for them when you're in the band like free tickets, backstage pass, etc.. Asking for money to recommend you to a band and collecting the proceeds is slimy, especially if the spot isn't guaranteed. There is a difference between a commission and a referral fee. A referral doesn't have a sale attached to it like a commission does.

    I'm all for commissions and incentives, and have paid plenty to booking agents over the years. But that was for actual gigs where the pay was worth the commission. And they did actual work to book a gig, not just introduce us to the manager. However, there is a place for favors in this business. If we all had to pay to get a referral for a band, we'd all be more broke than we are now, and the 'network' would collapse into a gang of hungry dogs ready to snap at each-other for a a scrap of meat clinging to an old bone. Wait, it's already that way....:D Well, we'd then be snapping at eachother for someone to tell us where we can smell a bone.

    Me personally, I would have a hard time containing my laughter if someone made that proposition to me.
  8. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    I know this isn't the input you are looking for, but IF the money they make minus the "cut" your friend wants is something you can love with, and IF the band plays music you are really excited about, and IF you think similar opportunities may be few and far between, then get it in writing and go for it.

    However, I cannot see how this person is your "friend". I cannot fathom doing what he/she is doing if it were me and I knew of a great gig opportunity for a friend of mine. I'd give the reccomendation freely and enthusiastically, because that is what friends do.
  9. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    @Factor88: That's pretty much my take on it, too.

    I think I need to nail down whether he's talking about taking a percentage regularly, or taking a one-time percentage of [insert sum]. If it's the latter, cool. If it's the former, then *I* would see that as him acting as a manager or agent for me. Which is a whole 'nother can of worms, no?

    The way he phrased it to me initially was: "I would take a percentage, just as a manager or booking agent would."

    Which...I need to learn more about the implications of that statement and most importantly, what's in it for ME.
  10. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    What does "referring you" to the band entail? Does he know them and is simply trying to recommend you or does he have a business arrangement with the band?

    Sounds like he wants to "manage" you, which if he had any real understanding of he would know that would entail finding you gigs more than "bands."
  11. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I would do this because if you throw up the lawyer card he might tell you to take a walk and he could always get someone else it sounds like a big opportunity but you don't want to go on to be a big hit and years later he wants a piece of everything you have ever done either. I would have a talk and get it in writing and notarized.
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Exactly what is this friend doing for you? If they want your money on an ongoing basis, then I would think they'd have to do something for you on an ongoing basis. Otherwise somebody's just scamming you.

    What Jive1 said.
  13. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    I have a friend who is putting me in touch with a lawyer. I'm a little offended that he's not being much of a "friend," but on the other hand, we have kind of a rocky history as friends and I honestly care more about getting the gig than maintaining this friendship. I know that sounds a little weird but I guess to put it another way, if this is indeed what he's asking for, then the friendship IS irrelevant...and would be even if he weren't asking for a percentage. Because it's business-related, not friend-oriented.

    I don't know if that makes sense, I just had a coffee and it hasn't kicked in yet.
  14. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    I asked him what the details would be and this is what he wrote...

    "i would get a percentage of anything and everything you would earn from artist "X". that means, advances, record sales, tour, merch, etc., for the length of you being with them. if you made a million in the first year, i would get my percentage of that. if you made 50,000.00, i would get the percentage of that.

    the band will be signing a deal for music, as well as tv and film. think spice girls. they had a record deal, did tv, and did a movie...

    it's an all girl band. i don't know if anyone but the singer would actually record, but the band will be in videos and on tour, as well as be slated for the tv show and film.

    that's all i can say for now."

    Man, I can't even wrap my head around this. I wish I understood the legal end of this business better. I feel like an idiot.

    I mean, legal implications aside here, looking at the numbers, it's like this...

    Okay. So I make $50,000 and he gets $10,000.

    I'm gonna get kinda personal here, but I'm doing it to make a point and to work through this in my own head.

    $40,000 is still literally more money than I've ever made in my life, as embarrassed as I am to say that. As in, my average annual income over the past 15 years of my life has never gone above $15,000. Sigh.

    But $10,000 is almost that amount anyway! $40,000 is a lot to me, but so is $10,000! In other words, even though $40,000 is "a lot" to me, I've had years where I've done my taxes, and $15,000 has felt like "gee, I did okay this year." Uh, yeah. I've been really broke before. It sucks.

    To put it another way, I get a 10% discount at my job to use for friends and family. I get things at cost, essentially meaning about the same difference on average...but sometimes more of a discount, depending on what it is. It doesn't seem like a very good discount, because it's not, in part because it's so unpredictable. I just bought an audio interface where I only saved about $40 with my employee discount, but then a couple of months ago I bought new headphones for my mom and they were half price..go figure. 10% discount is not great, either. It basically just translates to tax-free. But if I got a 20% discount, that -to me- would be pretty substantial. I could get a new laptop for about $1120 instead of $1400, which is a decent savings. Ya know?

    So when I look at it as the money I'd be SAVING on something, it seems like a lot to give away.

    BUT...when I look at the bigger picture and opportunities this would offer for me, throwing this dude $200 for every grand I make, seems inconsequential. Because of what this could do for me. This could be "it" for me. Yeah, it would be a major leap of faith, but it would turn my entire life around. So wouldn't it be worth it?!

    I really don't want to turn this opportunity down, but it doesn't seem like he's willing to negotiate either, and I find that to be a little frustrating/unsettling.

    What should I do? I want this gig but beyond trying not to take it personally and feeling a little used/taken advantage of, when I said I'd do "anything" to be successful, this kinda isn't what I meant...? :help:

    And yet....if 80% of what I make buys me a life where I finally break into this business in a very significant way, where I'm literally living my dream instead of killing myself turning screws as an Apple laptop tech for $15 an hour in a city that I'm rapidly burning out on while struggling to find local projects who pay at all...?

    I feel like I'd be a fool to turn this down. Yet, it does seem like a sketchy arrangement.

    So, I am not sure how to handle this. And given that it's still merely a possibility anyway, I might be getting ahead of myself as it is!

    It begs the question...what would you do for success in this business, if that was what you wanted? What would you do to "make it?" Isn't this still better than playing @#$ local shows, slaving away as a small, unrecognized band, working some day job so you can afford your gear...?

    I guess now this COULD merit a discussion about opportunity. Have you ever gotten a big opportunity? Was there a catch? What did you do about it?

    Discuss. :meh:
  15. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    Sorry------this is not how its done by professionals. This is pie-in-the-sky crap. And he wants 20% to basically put you in touch with these people?
    Sorry to burst a bubble, but I've seen this same very thing many time---and it always starts out just this too. Don't let numbers and dreams of glory you cannot even verify make you do decisions you will regret. If I cannot get info straight from the horse's mouth that I can check out---don't talk to me.
  16. First he doesn't tell you what percentage he expects and specifically he wants a cut of any 'advances'. An 'advance' is essentially a loan that you would have to pay back whether you make a profit or not.

    Get a lawyer.
  17. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    I can't afford a lawyer! :bawl: Unless it's possible to do a one-time consultation of some sort..?!

    This is somebody who's worked in the business for decades, albeit as a musician who's toured with big acts and made A LOT, and as an engineer/studio owner. Which is why I'm kinda scratching my head, because like...shouldn't he know better?

    What if I got a manager to basically...like....override him, or make some sort of counteroffer to "buy him out" somehow? Does it work that way? Is it worth trying to negotiate?

    I just don't want to let go of this completely...I want the goddamn pie! Don't make me work at my day job and play bass for free until I'm another decade older wondering what happened and why the @#$ I live in this city. Just don't. :bag: I like my job and all, but, really now...
  18. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Do you have access to the band? They are the one's hiring you.

    Don't forget that you can be sneaky as well.

    Just a thought you could simply add a performance clause which requires him to have you making x dollars by x date for the contract to go into effect. You get with the band and simply don't sign a contract till after the date his performance requirement expires the contract.

    You ARE nervous. Explain that and use your very real doubt to insert language that is both specific and arbitrary to benefit you. You can modify the contract as much as you want as long as you both agree to sign it.

    And a MAJOR negotiating factor to consider is WHEN does the band need you. The less time he has to sign someone the more leverage you have.

    Also TRY and make contact with the band and let them know that your services are available. If the band needs someone, that means they will be looking. Figure out their process and you may not even need him.
  19. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    Your 'friend' is a douche...that's about the lamest thing I've heard in a long time
  20. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    Look, you sound desperate---not a good frame of mind to be making judgements. I'm telling you this is just B.S., no matter how much you wish it to be otherwise.
    Why don't you ask him to prove this is a legitimate thing? What are YOUR guarantees? So is this "organization" actually auditioning people or are you the hottest thing going, they know about it and ONLY YOU are being notified about this? Who pays for the relocation--oh yeah---to where?

    My goodness---if you have not thought of even these things---lets not pussyfoot around--YOU are not ready and sound like an impressionable kid being strung along by somebody's pie-in-the-sky dream scam. I just wonder when he's going to ask YOU for some money.