Artist Management Agreement Explained

Standardized Legal Documents Artist Management Agreement Explained

How To Draw Up an Iron-Clad Artist Management Agreement

Artist management agreements are complex legal documents as every musician, manager, or their relationship is unique. Typically, the manager prepares the agreement, but it can also be a joint effort and a negotiation from the get-go.

Whether you’re the musician or the manager, this rundown on the artist management agreement will provide you with tips, answers, and guidelines.

Defining the Artist Management Agreement

The artist management agreement outlines the artist-manager relationship, expectations, and responsibilities. While most musician contracts last a few years, you can also opt for a short-term agreement. Check out an overview of these two types in the table below:

Short-Term ContractLong-Term Contract
  • Serves as a trial period
  • Includes the basic sections of the agreement (e.g., term, breach, and commission)
  • Can be extended to a long-term contract
  • Calls for more detailed terms
  • Requires both parties to agree on every aspect as it usually lasts for a few years

What Should a Solid Artist Management Agreement Include?

While you may not be or have Scooter Braun in your team, your artist management agreement should be a professional and comprehensive document. It should protect and bring success to both parties.

Here are the essential terms of this agreement:

  1. Names and contact info of both parties
  2. Date
  3. Appointment—stating that the artist chooses their manager
  4. Duration of the contract—typically three to five years
  5. Exclusivity—agreeing to a minimum commitment in case the manager represents more artists
  6. Manager’s services—detailed responsibilities of the manager
  7. Authority—Decisions the manager is entitled to make regarding the artist’s career and in the artist’s name; sometimes, a power of attorney is included
  8. Artist’s duties and restrictions
  9. Commissions—compensation paid to the manager, either net or gross receipts, usually 15–20%
  10. Expenses—the details on who covers what costs and in what way (e.g., reimbursement)
  11. Dispute resolution
  12. Relationship between the parties—a statement that the manager is an independent contractor and not a partner
  13. Indemnity
  14. Signatures

What To Pay Attention to in the Artist Management Agreement

Both parties should be satisfied with all the terms, but there's one part that can be sneaky if you are the artist—the sunset clause. This clause refers to the post-term commission period. It states that the manager will continue to earn their percentage even after the agreement terminates.

From the manager’s perspective, this clause provides protection and security as they invest in the artist. The artist’s career may skyrocket much later, and the manager would want their fair share of the success.

During the sunset term, commissionable activities are limited, and the commission rate decreases over time. Some contracts may have a sunset clause that goes on indefinitely. Even with a low percentage, you may not want to pay your ex-manager forever. This is why it’s crucial to think ahead and save yourself the trouble.

Should I Use a Contract Template for My Artist Management Agreement?

A one-size-fits-all contract template may not be the best idea. Drawing up the document to fit your specific situation is the safest option. If you don’t want to hire a music industry attorney to write your document from scratch, you can hire a lawyer to check your agreement once you draft it.

In case you still opt for a template to give you a headstart, you should watch out for some red flags, including:

  1. Grammatical mistakes
  2. Watermarks
  3. Out-of-date clauses
  4. Amateurish websites
  5. Hidden charges

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