As an artist, one of the first big agreements you will most likely be signing is with a manager. This individual will become one of the most important people in your team. You should therefore not take negotiation with an agent lightly. I have personally witnessed some horrible management contracts and thought it might be useful to give you some cues regarding such business agreements. If you are about to sign a management agreement, here are five things you should think about.
Of course, please take this as legal information and not legal advice. If you have any questions about agents (negotiation, contracts, etc) send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first thing you will want to look into when entering a deal with an agent or manager is the percentage they will be making. Firstly, you should ensure that the agreement is written in a way that only allows the manager to get a commission when you also make money.
You also want to be precise about what revenue streams you want your agent to get commissions off of. For instance, as a musician, you might agree to your manager taking a cut off your touring income, but not your song writing royalties (which is why you should never have an oral agreement with your manager, as those lack specifics).
Try to avoid anything too long term, especially if it’s your first time signing such an agreement. The shorter the term, the better. Also, you might want to suggest going with a shorter trial period at first, to assess whether or not this business relationship is satisfactory, and then negotiating a longer term after the trial period.
#3 Sunset clause
A sunset clause allows your agent or manager to continue getting a commission even after the end of your contract. This type of clause exists because, often times, managers will put a lot of effort into deals that will only materialize much later on. The most important thing about sunset clauses is making sure they do eventually come to an end. You do not want to be stuck paying your old and new manager for the rest of your career.
Do you want your manager to consult with you every time there is a deal on the table? Is there a specific value under which you do not mind your agent agreeing to certain deals for you? Can your manager sign for you? Those are all elements you should be addressing in your management agreement.
Please keep in mind that having a manager should not stop you from getting legal advice from a lawyer (or even replace getting proper legal advice) regarding the paperwork you sign for your business deals. While both are important parts of an artist’s team, they do not have the same role.
#5 Other fees
As an artist, your team can grow very quickly without you even realizing it. Booker, publisher, manager, promoter, assistants, accountant, etc: paying all these people can become not only overwhelming, but also impossible if you forget about how many individuals will be taking a slice of the pie every time you negotiate a new deal. As with all agreements with your team members, you should keep the size of your existing and future team in mind when signing with your manager.
Don’t forget these are not the only clauses you should be including in a manager agreement! If you need any assistance with drafting or reviewing a manager or representation agreement or if you need legal advice regarding agents, you can always reach me at email@example.com or you can click the link below to schedule a consultation.