I am new and have a question. I have about 7 songs that I wrote. I wrote the lyrics, melody, all the guitar parts, bass, drums etc. I had played these songs that I wrote with my last band of three years. When I introduced these 7 songs, some things within them changed due to my band mates ideas. These changes were mainly in dynamics and light structure (palm mute here, build up here, sing this backup vocal there, let’s have a full pause instead of a buildup before the chorus etc.). Two of the members quit the band for different reasons and the remaining member I moved on, with a new name and replacing the two ex members. We are keeping my 7 songs along with some of the collaborative production modifications. I am starting to get heat from my ex members about keeping my songs. I am being told that the songs were ‘written’ by all members and since they aren’t in the band anymore, no one should play them. Sorry if this sounds like high school, but I am eaily upset and hate conflict. I basically told them too bad, these are my songs and I am keeping them, just the way they are and they can suck wind. I recently registered with BMI and registered my songs. Am I right? Are they right? Comments?
Ex-band members and song rights.
First off - it sounds like you wrote and produced the songs to begin with so technically you are the author. If your ex-bandmates only gave suggestions that didn’t actually change the songs melody & rhythm then they have not created anything. Questions have you had the works copyrighted and if so who owns the copyright - if the band members are not listed as authors you have nothing to worry about and did you ever sign a co-publishing agreement or collaboration agreement with them. Those members are not entitled to anything and can’t tell you not to use the songs. Even if you co-wrote and co-published a song with someone unless you have a written agreement stating otherwise all parties are free to use the works granted all parties who are involved in the ownership get their percentages of the profits. Yes you are correct in using, registering and hopefully profiting from your songs and No they are not right on any account if there is no agreement saying otherwise.
A suggestion to help keep things straight is to discuss each song on a case by case basis from now on. I’m a dance music agent am working with a client who’s background is in punk/indie rock. You can always have new band members sign a “work made for hire” agreement which states that any contribution is deemed a work for hire and you retain all rights. Even when you collaborate there needs to be ONE person who is ultimately responsible for being able to license the material. A work for hire will cover this. There are also legal riders that can be attached which outline their involvement if you collaborate but still gives you the exclusive right to license it. This contract deems one person the “Author.”
It seems like many of these issues can be addressed in a band contract.
I have written one up before however I wasn’t sure of all the key points I should hit. This kind of changes the subject of this thread slightly BUT….
Does anyone know where I can find a sample outline of what an Internal Band Agreement/Contract should include?
Right now, I am the only member in my band who is affiliated (BMI). We do have some new material where another member has brought in riffs, I have messed with them and added the rest of the musical structure, we both collaborated on lyrics and melody. They aren’t affiliated, so who would license the song?
Well, as far as who should be able to license the material if you collaborate I would say YOU! You said in an earlier posting that you were in another band? Are you also the vocalist of these songs? Band members come and go often times and I by no means which to discount the creative input of a band member but is a guitar player leaves your band and goes to play with another then odds are the new band will have their own songs, etc. For this reason my suggestion is that when a vocalist is involved in writing a song then they should retain the rights. That doesn’t mean that the band member gives up ownership of what he helped create. If you collaborate something and then he/she leaves the group and you make it big and your song is a hit then he/she should still get what’s owed to them…but they shouldn’t have the right to take it to another band and license it out. Usually the vocalist is the “face” of the band…which you think of No Doubt you of course think of Gwen. If one of the guys left the band would go on and he’d be replaced and the music would stay behind. Does that help?
In response to what an internal band contract should contain there are programs that have all kinds of contracts in them. Do a google search for “music industry contract software.” Make sure its a program that has been approved by a professional in the legal field and please know that this suggestion does not replace the need to seek actual legal advice from an independent lawyer of your choice.
Drop me an email and I can shoot you a band partnership agreement. You can then modify it to your specifications and then you can have it reviewed by an entertainment attorney.
Got ya I’m sending it now.
Looks like you’ve gotten some good advice here.
Keep in mind:
1) An attorney specializing in the music business, specifically all things copyright, is a vital resource and the earlier you find one the better.
2) Take the time to learn the difference between authorship and arrangement…the lines can get blurry if you’re not clear.
3) Since you are a BMI affiliate, don’t hesitate to take advantage of that resource when trying to seek further advice or references.