Monday, October 8, 2012

Don’t Get Run Over By Management

Having management can be a good thing; but sign the wrong management agreement and you can get run over before the relationship begins.  In a profession synonomous for form contracts, it’s important to understand what all aspects of the contractual language means.  The average person with minimal experience in the entertainment industry can spot wrong from right in management deals.  Isolating the key phrases and understanding how they apply in a practical sense is a different ballgame.  Understand the following traps and avoid being run over by management by completely.

Nine out of ten management contracts will start out with language (or the equivalent) stating the following: “WHEREAS, Artist wishes to obtain, guidance, counsel and direction in the development and furtherance of Artist’s career, as a performer, in any medium, and seeks counsel from Manager….”  Alarming language?  Not on it’s face, but here’s what it really means in a practical legal sense.  IF the Manager sought after the Artist for representation (which is typically the case), the Artist never asked to secure the Manager services.  The contract however states something completely different – remember – “Artist wishes to obtain guidance from Manager.”  This isn’t accurate, therefore bands can get run over in the first paragraph (literally).
The tricky language is highly relevant in the event of a dispute.  What happens if a dispute arises?  In most management contracts the language will call for litigation, mediation or arbitration.  Whether a judge, mediator or arbitrator is assigned to the case, they will look no further than the language itself.  The language identifies Artist seeking Management, not Management seeking Artists (which is the reality).  It’s virtually impossible to win a dispute, or complain about a wrong doing as an Artist, if the perception is that the Artist issued the contract.  You literally become knock out of debate before the debate gets going – and it all traces back to the opening paragraph.
If you’re thinking this would never happen – think again.  Management represents one of the highest turn over professions for bands.  Rarely does a band have the same manager for the duration of their career.  Additionally, when Manager/Band relationships end, it’s typically not a mutual decision (ie. someone leaves angry).  Identify the key language referenced above, request the changes during negotiations and highly increase your chances for a mutually beneficial Manager/Artist relationship.

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