Industry news & advice blog

Advice on artist and band management contracts from Musicians' Union

This blog is contributed by Musicians' Union.

The legal loopholes and chasms that confront many musicians who sign management deals can readily return to trip or swallow them – and their money – up long after the ink has dried.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) to prevent the contract nightmares common to too many artists and their managers.

The result is an example management agreement, complete with terms and conditions, and clauses agreed by the three organisations. It’s simple and clear, and avoids the confusion and contradictions that have crept into existing bespoke congrats and their mutant offspring.

The example management agreement grew out of the MU’s Contract Advisory Service. Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, recalls how the Union's lawyers raised concerns about the poor contract agreements widely available online to performers, managers, recording companies and others.

“Many of those contracts have been tampered with or are out of date,” he says. “Once both parties have signed one, it’s very hard to do anything about it. Our lawyers said: ‘If only we could populate the internet with an agreement that’s up to date and fair to everyone concerned’. In response, we began talks with the MMF two years ago, and the FAC became involved after that.”

Although the example management agreement has been drafted in clear language, MU members should still send the resulting paperwork to the Union's Contract Advisory Service before signing. “We want to make sure the contract hasn’t been changed in any way which we wouldn’t agree with,” says Horace.

“An unscrupulous manager could say: ‘Sign this MU management agreement, it’s fine, you don’t need to read it’. But they could have changed it, or perhaps the example agreement may not be the right one for the artist. There’s a big difference between a 60-year-old songwriter who is being given a chance by a manager and a young fresh-faced band that everybody is trying to sign. The agreement, in each case, will need fine tuning.”

It can feel like English contract law is out to get musicians. But it doesn’t have to be like that. 

For the example management agreement, contract advice and to find out more about the Musicians’ Union, get in touch via theMU.org.

 

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