When starting a band, few people stop to consider the practical or legal issues which are involved.
Although it may not always feel necessary at the beginning of a musical career to ensure that the finer details of payment and royalties are set out in black and white, continuing on without a contract that every member is in agreement with can lead to disputes further down the line, causing irreconcilable differences and often breakups.
Such problems appear within bands who are looking for success, but also with those who have already found it. Despite achieving great fame, The Beach Boys could not resolve their arguments without taking legal action, which resulted in band members suing each other over song writing credits.
Spandau Ballet were another popular band that were torn apart by money differences. These also lead to a court case between members. Issues with contracts such as these and the vast amounts of money they concern can cause such rifts between band members that they never work together again.
Such issues can continue even after a band has split up, as was the case with The Smiths and Frank Zappa, who faced a law suit from his former band mates over what they claimed to be $12 million in unpaid royalties.
Credence Clearwater Revival split up over the many differences they had which they could not work out themselves. This band constantly fought over how much input each member had, who was in charge, pay, and what creative directions they went in. Issues with contracts can also lead to rifts between bands and their record labels often meaning that a band cannot produce music or receive payments because of legal ties.
Both the Stone Roses and Pink Floyd have had issues with their record labels as a result of contracts and in the case of the Stone Roses, this stopped them being able to release further music for years. Such disputes and confusion amongst band members can be avoided by making sure that during the early stages of the band’s career a band partnership contract that all band members are happy with and agreed upon is drawn up and signed so that certain issues and boundaries are set out in clear, precise terms.
Signing a contract can encourage a band’s longevity, as is the case with U2 who have a written contract in place and have remained together for 36 years.