Why Artists & Managers Must Take Independent Legal Advice

When considering a management agreement it is essential that both artist and management each receive independent legal advice – though not for the same reasons!

The Artist

The artist will require independent legal advice:

  • To ensure that he/she fully understands the deal on offer.
  • To ensure that he/she understands what is missing from the management agreement. It is not unusual for key terms to be excluded from a first draft. For example, the agreement may not allow the artist to terminate the agreement if a record deal has not been signed within, say, 18 months.
  • To benefit from the generosity of their management company! A manager will almost certainly insist that the artist have independent representation for the reasons described below. Management may even be prepared to pay the artist to receive such advice. A budget of between £250 to £450 is usually sufficient to ensure that the needs of the artist are properly catered for.
  • To be certain that once the ink is dry on the agreement, he/she can concentrate on their music and associated career, safe in the knowledge that their business affairs have been protected.

If a manager is unable or unwilling to pay for your legal fees, then members of The Musicians Union can obtain access to a legal service, albeit this should not usually be considered an alternative to independent legal advice.

Management

Management will require an artist to take his/her own independent legal advice. This is because in England and Wales, the law assumes that the relationship between artist and manager is one of undue influence. This means that the law will assume that a manager will be able to exercise influence over an artist. This influence could be used to get an artist to sign a management agreement. In such a scenario the Courts may be willing to set aside the management agreement as if it had never been signed – with dire consequences for the manager. The manager may stop the Court from making this assumption if it can show that the artist has taken independent legal advice.

Many managers will themselves also require independent legal advice. No two deals are ever the same, and whilst the manager may have a template agreement that he or she has used before, this may need updating to take account of recent changes in law or recent innovations (such as iTunes or other digital media). Managers too have access to template agreements and legal advice through the MMF.

To discuss any queries regarding management deals on an informal basis and without obligation, please call Mark Roberts on 0161 826 9309.

Mark Roberts

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