Band Agreement: What it is and what you need to know

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Band Agreement: What it is and what you need to know

band agreement
Words by Mixdown Staff

The ultimate guide to banging out a band agreement for the DIY musician

It is official. You’ve set your band up as a business, you’re committed to the cause and you’re about to embark on a journey with your business partners, A.K.A, your band members. However, before you go hiring your tour van or booking the studio, there’s one more crucial task to complete. The band agreement.

A partnership agreement, or band agreement, is a formal and legal document that outlines the ‘rules’ or provisions in which all band members should abide by throughout the career and operation of the band.

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It is recommended that if a band intends to profit from their original works or performances, they should enter into a legal agreement with each other to protect the band’s future and of course, the rights of individual members.

Not only does the contract ensure that all parties are legally taken care of, it is an effective way of creating a line of communication between fellow members. Ultimately, by completing this process, the band can rest assured that in the case of any legal matter, the resolution has already been agreed upon.

When drawing up your contract, there are many terms to take into account. While each case is unique and would require various policies, there are some that are stock standard for any band’s partnership agreement.

Commencement date

To start with, band members should consider a definite date on the beginning of the agreement. In doing this, it sets out from which date all the terms agreed upon were legally decided on.

While it is not always necessary, some groups do choose to include an end date to the agreement – meaning that when that time comes, the members can revisit the contract, agree on new terms etc.


While it’s a pretty straight forward part of the agreement, outlining the purpose of your band’s formation as a business is a great way to get a sense of each members short and long term goals and commitment to their music career.

By including one or two sentences on why you have come together as a band and what you are setting out to achieve, it provides you with an official incentive and a reference point for the future

Band name & logo

One of the most crucial terms to cover is who controls the rights to band name and logo. There have been many cases throughout history in which a band has dissolved and a member has continued under the same name, thus, profiting from the entire band’s work – you’re probably already familiar with the Little River Band case.

Generally, in a collaborative group in which all members are equal contributors, rights are shared equally.

Song writing credits & ownership

An essential part of your partnership agreement will determine who owns the copyright to original written material and the recorded works of the band.

If there are dominant songwriters, they may wish to receive a higher share of the publishing rights from their songs, however, every case is different – some bands decide to split every single income stream equally.

For more information, head to APRA AMCOS.


Similarly, when it comes to the band’s income, there are many income streams that they can profit from, including live performance, merchandise, synchronisation deals, sponsorships, record sales, streaming etc.

Each of these income streams will have to be divided between the band members and it’s important to set out the terms of the split. For instance, a band member may have had a hand in the design of the merchandise, thus seek more of the profits.

Expenses & reimbursements

Often bands set out what types of expenses will be covered by the partnership’s income. This will prevent any member from using the band’s money for personal expenses.

As a start-up, it’s likely members will have to provide some money to the cause at one point or another. By placing this clause into the contract, you can agree upon the way in which these upfront payments will be reimbursed to each member.

Leaving & terminated band members

If a band member chooses to leave or is terminated from the band, they are legally entitled to the rights in the songs they wrote/hold ownership over and to perform musical works they have written outside the band’s dealings.

However, the band must ensure they include a term outlining their decision on band name ownership for each member’s departure.

New members

While it’s always favourable that a band’s original formation remains intact, there are some instances where a new member will be required.

As a result, it’s important to detail what rights this member will have in terms of copyright, name ownership etc. It’s also recommended that a clause is included that outlines an agreed upon process and voting system for hiring.

The last thing you want is a new member joining the band that an original member doesn’t approve of.

Dispute resolution

By including a dispute resolution clause in your partnership agreement, you are virtually setting out an agreed upon process for any issues that may arise throughout your time as a band.

In the case of a dispute, you may agree upon a voting system or involving a third party mediator/arbitrator.

Dissolution of band partnership

In the unfortunate case of the band’s time ending, there are some matters that must be included in the agreement to ensure the smoothest and fairest dissolution possible.

Questions to consider include: who will own the name, can it be used again and of course, how will the royalties be divided?

This article was originally published March 20, 2016.

Click here for an example band agreement or head here for more information.