Ok. Here are some things that I have noted in this agreement that need to be addressed.
1) Management duties. This is often generalized in agreements, however you may want to add more specifics. "To use your best endeavors to promote and develop my career as a music artist and provide me with regular reports on your work." is not much to go on here. There is nothing of substance that relates to what they are going to do for you in relation to activities. Also, what will be the time frame on providing regular reports on work? Will it be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly? That needs to be outlined.
2) Expenses. It is customary for managers to get reimbursed on expenses, however you provide no "cap" or checks and balances when it comes to this. With this agreement, they could incur major expenses on behalf of you as their artist without any input or "permission" from you. You don't want to wake up one day and get a hefty bill for reimbursements. Obviously, you don't want to hinder their job....but you don't want them to go overboard either.
3) Commission. This section is a bit ambiguous. Not good for you. 15% "or" 20%? Which one is it? Needs to be one or the other, unless you have some specific income streams or income exceptions (such as losing money on a tour) that a certain commission rate is tied to. If you are talking about just the typical percentage, then that needs to be outlined. Is it 15 or 20....not either, or!
Also, net or gross? In parenthesis it states "gross or preferably net." Not good. This creates questions upon (God forbid) litigation. Again, which one is it? Gross or net? Now, this is a question in itself. That being said, there are typical deductions that are made BEFORE the manager's point deduction. These are as follows:
- Recording expenses. Typically not commissioned.
- Producer expenses. Usually not commissioned.
- Production such as your sound or lighting expense.
- Any tour support. This is usually paid out by a record company. This makes up for a "loss" in your income or revenue. Should not be commissioned.
Additionally, there are other areas you may want to reduce the commission on. Say you take a loss on your tour. Many managers won't take their commission. Also, some manager's take less commission on your songwriting income. There are many exceptions. You may just want to go with a general percentage, but nevertheless, the percentage that is commissioned should be specific and related to net or gross. It shouldn't be a random situation to be decided whenever.
Also, what is "live" work? (#8). What does this mean? Performance? The following sentence relates to commission on recordings and compositions. Very confusing. It also mentions "net" on live work. Previously, net/gross is used. Not well defined at all.
4) Commission after agreement. It seems that after the agreement expires, they still get 10%. Not sure of what? What are they getting 10% of? Maybe I'm missing something here. Also, for HOW LONG? Say you get into a bad deal with them. They get you a publisher or a recording contract...and thus you can't terminate the agreement early. You record and start gaining momentum. Once your agreement is over, they can keep collecting on money related to that record (note that records are defined as any recordings...CD's, mp3s...whatever). What is the definition of that? Don't know...could be anything related to the recording within the term.
5) Getting out of the deal in 6 months based on deliverables. This means that you can terminate the deal (from what it seems....no strings attached) if they don't' get you a publisher or record deal. Good for you in that you can get out of it fast, but here is the deal.
This used to mean something back in the day when signing to a record company might equal advancement. But, my concern is 6 months is a short amount of time to get a publisher or record company involved. Now, I don't know about their level of contacts (the manager), however you don't just want to sign with "any" publisher and especially a record company. They need to be reputable publishers and record companies that could do something for your career. Will the record company have distribution? And...what type of distribution? If it's just over the Internet....say like putting your CD's up on Itunes and CD Baby etc....big deal. You can do that. Don't commission your money away. Some managers mean well...but don't often make the best moves. And a publisher is worse. A publisher needs to have major contacts to get your songs out. If they don't....then they will also be making royalties off of the work you are doing. I've seen this play out time and time again.
There is far more to a record deal than meets the eye....the biggest is money. It takes a lot of money to promote a record. If you sign with a record company...how much of their marketing dollars are they going to put forth to help promote? This aspect and distribution are the biggest issues that define your success. You have to look at your career like a chess game. You always need to be looking forward...not just one move, but several moves ahead so you won't get burned.
7) Arbitration or disputes. This is not outlined. The procedure needs to be outlined.
Anyway...hope this helps. I was an artist manager for years. Currently I'm a consultant, producer, session player and composer.
Lastly, don't go to the management company for advice relating to this agreement. I highly recommend an ENTERTAINMENT lawyer as you say. They will be able to guide you. It's worth the extra expense, believe me. I'm sure they will concur with my points here...and probably offer a few more. I'm not an attorney....so don't take this information as such....this info comes from my experience in the industry.
If you like this answer, please ACCEPT, as that is how I get credit. We can continue the thread, if you wish. Also, bonuses are appreciated!
Edited by Hugh on 7/22/2010 at 4:00 PM EST