You should never rush into signing a contract. It is a legally binding document. If you’re not careful, you may end up signing away more than you bargained for. This is especially true when hiring a music manager. Remember, a music manager works for you – not the other way around. For this reason, you need to pay attention to the contract. Here are some of the most important points in a music management contract.
Duration of the Contract
One of the biggest considerations is the duration of the contract. Generally, your initial contract should be for a one or two-year term. This gives you enough time to work with the manager and learn more about their music management style.
In the event that things don’t work out between you and your manager, you aren’t obliged to continue working together for an extended period. Instead of choosing a specific length of the contract, there has been a trend to define the length of the contract based on album cycles.
In this situation, you are signing an agreement that will require you to work with your manager for as long as it takes to release a specific number of albums. It’s important to discuss your expectations with your manager. You need to be on the same page when it comes to your career. This includes the duration of your initial contract.
Don’t allow a potential manager to strong arm you into signing a lengthy contract. Some managers will propose a longer term. The reason for this is that they’ll make more money. When you first sign with a manager, they require a larger cut of your earnings, as you haven’t established a name for yourself yet.
Once your career grows, and you begin increasing your earnings, you have the upper hand. So, if the manager does their job, you should be able to negotiate a contract with a more reasonable compensation fee. That is why a one or two-year term is more agreeable to both parties.
Compensation for the Music Manager
Speaking of compensation, the percentage of your gross income that your manager receives is another important talking point in your contract. Typically, a music management contract will call for a 15 to 20% cut of your earnings. In addition to this cut, your manager will also receive compensation for expenses related to managing your career. Compensation can include costs related to travel or dining when they’re working on advancing your career.
For example, if your manager needs to fly to LA to talk to a record executive on your behalf, your band will cover the costs. You should also pay attention to compensation that continues after the term of the contract ends. This is an issue that many indie artists neglect to realize.
Typically, your manager will continue to earn a percentage of earnings from any deals that he or she made during the term of your contract. Once the contract ends, when you continue to earn money from albums or deals that occurred during the term of the contract, your manager will continue to get compensated. Though, the percentage is often lowered for these after-contract earnings.
Personnel Changes in Your Band
You should also look at any paragraphs in the contract that deal with personnel changes in your band. With some music management contracts, the manager may have the right to manage the careers of artists that leave the band during the term of the contract. Additionally, the contract can include a clause requiring that the manager approves of any personnel changes.
The Scope of Their Management Services
When you sign a contract, you’re likely thinking about your music career. But, if you decide to branch out into other fields, does your manager still receive a cut of your earnings? This depends on the contract. For example, if you decide to go into acting, your contract may stipulate that your music manager continues to receive compensation for each role that you accept.
Review the scope of the contract. Look for general terms, such as “entertainment industry”, when reviewing manager compensation. These terms could be refined to refer to a specific area, such as the “music industry”. Learn more about what you should look for in a music management agreement:
Final Thoughts on Signing a Music Management Contract
These contracts should never be entered into lightly. Some contracts are straight forward while others are incredibly complicated and filled with legal jargon.
If you have any doubts about your ability to understand the terms of the contract, then you should consider hiring a lawyer. Allow a lawyer to review the contract. Make sure that they explain any sections of the contract that you don’t fully understand.
For additional advice on how to find a music manager and dealing with contracts, take a look at our detailed guide – Music Management for Indie Artists. Inside, you will find a wealth of knowledge from industry experts that can help you avoid common mistakes. Good luck and remember to thoroughly review any contract before signing.
For more expert tips and advice, check out our book Music Management For The Indie Artist – “Everything You Need To Know About Managing Your Music Career, Exploding Your Popularity & Getting Discovered By A Top Manager”.
This is a complete, step-by-step blueprint which contains a “treasure trove” of the best kept marketing & business secrets for indie musicians, artists and bands who want to start managing their music career like a pro, become a music phenomenon and attract a top music manager.