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24th Jan
Setting up a band? The contract...
Setting up a band? The contract...

Writing an Inter-band Agreement

It’s a classic story, a few friends decide to get together to start a music band with dreams of getting signed to a record label and making it big. People assume that the bonds of friendship will hold it all together and they’ll be no falling out over the more material aspects because “it’s all about the music”. But if musical history teaches us anything it’s that the majority of famous bands break up, for many reasons but usually because the band members end up falling out or wanting to go in different directions. Some examples; the Beatles, John Lennon left to follow a solo career, The clash, a member left due to addiction, Oasis, Noel and Liam fell out….the list goes on.

If you’re a band just starting out you should seriously think about having a written agreement between all of the member’s right from the start. This protects all of you if ever any disagreements arise. Examples of things you may want to include in a band agreement are things like:

  • Who owns the copyright of what song
  • How are the royalties divided
  • What will happen if one of the band members leaves
  • If the band splits up, can a one member can carry on using the band’s name

Many bands do not have any sort of agreement between themselves when it comes to copyright, but this is crucial. One member might write the lyrics, one may write the melody etc, specifying who wrote what will mean that no arguments will arise when it comes to dividing up royalties.

Check out the sample agreement below to get an idea of what can be included. The below example aims to split most of the assets of the band equally, it’s up to you to decide amongst your band members who gets what. You can tailor you band agreement to include whatever you think is relevant to your members.

DISCLAIMER: The following agreement is for educational purposes only and in no way constitutes legal advice. Feel free to duplicate this agreement by copying and pasting it into a document. Text in PINK mark sections to be filled in or edited as necessary.

The Contract





House name/number:





(NAME OF BAND MEMBER) of:                           


House name/number:





(Add as many band members as neccessary)

Herein after referred to as the ‘members’.


1.         DEFINITIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS                                              

In this agreement the following words and expressions shall have the following meanings:

“C.P.D (1988)”         means the Copyright, Design and Patent Act 1988.

“Contribution”          means  the creative content of any song owned by the band i.e. musical notation, lyrics, rhythm, engineering, sound recording. 

“Expulsion”            means termination of membership of the band.

“Joint copyright”    means ownership of copyright by more than one person.    

  “(INSERT BAND NAME)”  means the name of the band.

“Reasonable grounds”      means the correct set of circumstances in which a member warrants being expelled from the group, these include:

  • Breach of contract
  • A criminal conviction
  • Disrupting the functioning of the band to a negative effect
  • Irreparable differences between other members

Reference to any gender includes all genders

Clause Headings

A) The headings to the clauses are for convenience only and are not to be taken into account in the interpretation of any part of this agreement


Whereas the members agree to the formation of a musical band named “(INSERT BAND NAME)” by entering into this agreement the members agree to abide by the following conditions:

2.         TERM                                                                                               

 A)        This agreement shall remain in force for a period of 2 years, thereafter

            with an option to renew the agreement for a further period of 12 months.

3.         EQUITY                                                                                                        

A) The formation of the band will require the sum of £            INSERT AMOUNT each to be placed at the disposal of the band. In lieu of cash any member may substitute this by way of a musical instrument(s) and/or equipment to the same value or a combination of both.

i) In the case that the band splits up each member will have the right to remove  any musical instrument(s) and/or equipment so placed at the disposal of the band.

ii) Subject to funds being available any remaining cash will be divided, firstly to repay each member up to their initial stake, less the value of any instrument(s) and/or equipment contributed and thereafter in equal proportions.

iii) In the event of there being insufficient funds to reimburse each member to the value of their original stake all assets will be sold and the proceeds divided equally between members.

B) The members collectively hold the right to use the group name for the duration of their membership.

i)  In the event of a member leaving or being expelled from the band under no circumstances will that member have any right to use the name of the band.

ii)  The remaining members along with any future members will retain exclusive rights to the band name.

iii)  In the event that the band splits up the name will remain the joint property of those who were officially members at the date of the split.

iv)   Future use of the band’s name will be restricted unless agreed by all valid members.


A) In accordance with the C.P.D (1988), the author of the work holds the copyright, and is therefore entitled to any profits thus generated.

B) Copyright will be established by keeping a record of contributions made during the creation of each song. Copyright will thereafter be assigned to the author(s) of the material.

C) Irrespective of contribution performance rights will only be granted to third parties subject to there being a simple majority vote by all members.


A) In the case that the band do not have a record and/or publishing deal (INSERT PERCENTAGE)        % of all royalties will be re-invested into the band

This money will be used to provide:

i)             A regular income in equal proportions for each member of the band regardless of their contribution.

ii)            management fee’s where and when applicable

iii)           legal fee’s

iv)           travelling and accommodation expenses

v)            equipment

vi)           advertising and promotional material

B) The remaining (INSERT PERCENTAGE)               % of royalties will be distributed to the contributing member(s)

C) In the case that a member should leave the band, that member will continue to receive royalties for the material they created only whilst working in the band.

i) Further royalties generated by any recording or publishing deals will be paid to the member with the condition that the recoupment of his share of outstanding advances have been settled.  

B) In the case that the band splits up the appointed manager will ensure that each member receives a fair share of theroyalties

6.         MANAGEMENT

A) All members accept that the appointed manager will advise and assist the band in all decisions relating to the band’s future in all areas of the music industry, these include the following:

i)                in all decisions concerning the band’s professional activities in music, recording and performance

ii)               with respect to matters of publicity, promotion and advertising

iii)              with respect to assignment of copyright and royalty rates

iv)              with respect to merchandise and endorsements

v)               with respect to business practices

7.         DECISIONS

A) The following are conditional upon a simple majority vote of the members:

i)                the allocation of equity

ii)               the appointment of any business representative(s)

iii)              acquisition of new instrument(s) and/or equipment

iv)              the admission of a new member to the group

v)               any agreement or contract

B) In the case that a band member should leave the band or break any of the terms set out in this agreement, the manager will enforce all terms within the contract.

8.         MEMBERSHIP CHANGE                                                                          

A) In the case that a member voluntarily leaves the band, three months written notice must be given.

B) In the case that a member is expelled from the band all conditions outlined in the interpretation of terms with regard to reasonable grounds must be adhered to

i) The expelled member will be entitled to royalties generated due to the exploitation of his copyright and to other income(s) from performances, endorsements, merchandising and record sales which were undertaken whilst he was a member

C) Regardless of the manner in which a member leaves the group it will be his responsibility to be absolved from all third party contracts concerning the band

9.         ADDITIONAL CLAUSES                                                                          

A)        Step out clause

In the event that a band member wishes to work on other projects outside the functioning of the band, they are free to do so as long as these activities do not interfere with said member’s responsibilities to the band. These responsibilities will include:

-        Studio work

-        Rehearsals

-        Performances

-        Interviews/press meetings

-        Photo shoots

-        Radio appearances

-        Concert tours

-        Scheduled meetings with fans

-        Scheduled appearances

B)        Penalty clause

In the case of any member terminating their membership in the band prior to the conclusion of this agreement, that member will forfeit an amount of any undivided profits made by the band thus far, equal to the number of contracted   days remaining as a percentage of 730 days.

C)        Sunset Clause

i) Members agree that in the case that the band dismisses the manager (under any of the grounds set out in the management agreement), entitlement to royalty commission shall be applicable for a period of                      years from the date of dismissal

ii)        Alternatively a buyout may be offered.

iii)       In the case of dismissal, royalty commission shall be paid to the manager in equal amounts by each member

10.       GOVERNING LAW AND JUSRISTICTION                                           

 A) This Agreement shall be construed and enforced in accordance with the Laws of England and Wales (CHANGE IF YOU LIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE).

B) If any part of this agreement is found to be void due to the application of any UK legal principle then that void part will be removed from this agreement and the Members agree to re-negotiate the effected term and will act in good faith in order to achieve their objectives by a lawful means.

C) The members agree that the courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute which may arise in connection to this agreement.

11.       MISCELLANEIOUS                                                                                     

A) The members accept that they have been advised to seek independent legal advice in connection to the terms of this agreement.

B)        Any financial matters will be dealt with by an appointed accountant

C)        Each member is individually responsible for taxes


IN WITNESS of which the Members have executed this agreement.

Signed by

NAME OF BAND MEMBER            (member)

NAME OF BAND MEMBER            (member)

NAME OF BAND MEMBER            (member)

NAME OF BAND MEMBER            (member)


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