Starting a Band – What are the Legal Issues?

guitStarting a band can be an exciting adventure.  However, if your bands wants to make money professionally,  there is more to think about other than simply making music.  Having discussions about how the business is to be conducted while everyone is getting along will help establish the responsibilities of each band member,  simplify decision-making, and prevent conflicts. Ideally, the decisions you make will be put in writing, which will reduce the risk of misunderstandings.

If you’re investing a lot of time, money or equipment in your band, you may want to consider writing an agreement among the group members — a Band Partnership Agreement (BPA) or creating an incorporated entity. Band agreements typically addresses the following key issues:


Band Name
• Who owns the band name and logo?
• What happens to the band name if the band breaks up or a band member quits or is fired?
• If the band breaks up, who can still perform using the name?

• How will band profits/debts be distributed?
• How are performance fees and royalties distributed among members?
• What will happen when one band member contributes more/less time/money than expected?
• Who keeps track of the money and how?

Business Decisions
• How will band business decisions be made?
• Are decisions made by majority or unanimous vote? Do any band members possess veto power?
• How will the band resolve disputes?

Acquisition of Equipment
• How will the band purchase equipment?
• How will it be stored and transported?
• Do we need insurance?

Creative Decisions
• Who owns the songs we write?
• Who decides which songs to perform/record?
• How is it determined who gets songwriting credit?
• Who owns the master recordings we make?

Touring/Performing Decisions
• Who decides what gigs to play?

Band Members
• What happens when a new member joins or an existing member leaves the band?

Type of Business Entity
• Which legal structure is right for your band?
• What are the tax and personal liability and start-up expenses associated with operating as a sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), corporation or nonprofit organization?


► Getting Legal Help

If you are a music industry professional seeking legal counsel, contact AXIS legal counsel today.  Our Music Law and Industry Practice has represented numerous types of clients involved in and connected with the music industry, whether on the band/artist side or company side.  We have substantial experience  representing artists, musicians, bands, solo artists, composers, record labels, producers, singers, songwriters, managers, agents, and others with a variety of music matters spanning transactional, advisory, and litigation matters. We have represented clients in deals and agreements including recording agreements, 360 agreements, artist-label, artist-producer, producer-label, distribution, endorsement, management, merchandising, performance, producer, publishing, sponsorship, influencer, and numerous other types of agreements. Contact us today at 213-403-0100 or for a confidential consultation.


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