So you've been writing songs, or maybe you want to start writing songs, and you've been hoping for a band to be the vehicle for those songs to thrive.
Working in a group dynamic brings its own set of challenges that needs to be discussed thoroughly with the full band before kicking off, so that they don't become a nuisance (or worse) later on. Before you dive right in and start writing with your newfound band, there are a few important things to consider:
1. Discuss the songwriting splits
It is very important to understand that there are different royalties paid out for the performance of the master (the actual recording), which is typically split evenly between the band members, and those paid additionally and only to the songwriter.
Before it becomes a concern that one member of the band (or a few members) are making more than everyone else, discuss the make-up of the split with the whole band and agree to proper terms.
A big part of understanding who will receive what is understanding your songwriting process, so it is known who the songwriter or songwriters in the group are. This way there is no confusion as to who should receive the songwriting royalties once they start to come in.
2. Define the bands' intention
I know what you are thinking, the intension of the band is to become successful, right? Well, sure, but there is far more that needs to be discussed, because there are many, many ways to actually become a success, so the band should discuss the goals and intentions of the band before hand. Goals could include:
- Signing to a major label
- Pursuing a DIY career
- Writing songs specifically for sync placements
Believe it or not, some may not be comfortable with licensing their songs for TV shows or movies, and again believe it or not, but some people just simply want nothing to do with a record label. In any of these instances (and more!), it is important that everyone agrees on the direction to take as it could become a source of major debate and could even stall your band's career path if not made clear up front.
3. Discuss the musical vision
This is an obvious consideration, but is still incredibly important none the less. Before you begin to write with and/ or for your band, it is important to discuss the style of music you are not only writing now, but what your vision for the sound in the future is. This seems silly but everyone should be in agreement before the writing has begun so that as the band get stronger and writing begins to evolve, everyone remains happy.
4. Discuss expectations of each member
A successful band needs to be run like an organization, and as such there are quite a few responsibilities to be accounted for. It is important to discuss, upfront of course, what the expectations are for each member, including:
- Time investment needed for practicing, writing, marketing, touring, etc.
- Money invested back into the band, made by each member or by the group as a whole, based on percentages of royalties received as well as other forms of income such as ticket sales or album sales.
- Day-to-day responsibilities of each member, including marketing/ networking through social media, accounting, booking, etc.
- The importance of touring to your overall strategy as a band. If you expect to be touring for 6 months out of the year, make sure the whole band is in the know and is comfortable with that before it derails mid-tour.
Have you discussed this with your band?
If so, we'd love to hear about it! Leave us a comment in the section below.
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We created this guide to answer a simple question: How do songwriters support themselves?
The answer is not as simple as we’d like, but our goal is to make it as clear, transparent and understandable as we possibly can.
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Our hope is that you’ll finish this guide with an better understanding of the business behind songwriting and have actionable resources to help you be successful.