20 Questions for New Artists: Publishing Company/Marital Status/Instruments and Inventory/Passport and Work Permits

For the next few weeks, we’re going to post sections from the article “20 Questions for New Artists” by Chris Castle and Amy Mitchell some of which has been posted various places. If you are interested in getting a free copy of the basic article, write to semaphoreindustryquestions@gmail.com before February 15. This doesn’t constitute legal advice, or any intent to form the attorney-client relationship. Chris, Amy and others will also be publishing the “Artist Glossary of Industry Terms” as a companion guide.

Publishing Company

Do the writer members of the band have a publishing or administration deal or are you self-published? Multiple publishing deals in the same band are less frequent problems for independent artists, but it does happen and it can add a layer of complexity when shopping for a new publishing deal. Keep in mind that if the writers have affiliated with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC as a writer, your publishing company must follow the same affiliation. Another wrinkle comes with writers who are affiliated with foreign societies (e.g., SOCAN, MCPS-PRS). If the band has a foreign society writer or co-writer on any songs, the members should consult with their U.S. society to determine how to handle their affiliation and registrations.

Instrument(s) Played, Brand and Inventory

While band members will know who plays what, it’s useful to have a written record of who plays what so you can give it to someone else (such as a manager). Also, having information about the instrument(s) and brand(s) that a member uses could prove useful in strategizing for sponsorship opportunities. We also recommend having the band complete an inventory of instruments for insurance purposes (including serial numbers if available), complete with photographs or video of the instruments. This visual record is especially useful with customized, rare or one-of-a-kind instruments.

Marital Status

Common problems arising from marriage that require planning include divorce (and the state law community property issues) and heirs (if a member dies). The band might be stuck dealing with the (sometimes resentful or surly) widow or widower who may inherit consent rights for synch or master use licenses, for example, if these approval rights are not lawfully foreclosed from descendibility in any band agreement. Make sure each band member understands the importance of discussing your intellectual property assets (e.g., songs and recordings) with your spouses and considers taking advice for appropriate legal protections for all concerned.

Passport/Work Permits

If the band is planning to tour internationally—including Canada and Mexico—each member (and any crew traveling with you) must have a valid passport. You should get a photocopy of the inside pages of the passport (in case of loss or damage and for immigration forms). It may also be useful to calendar the expiration date of each passport so that you can quickly know if one member’s passport is set to expire when negotiating any tour agreements outside of the United States. There are services that can turn around a passport renewal in 24-48 hours, but they are expensive. There is also an expedited passport renewal process at the Passport Office in Rockefeller Center in New York, but that, too, is an expensive process and typically requires physical presence.

The band would also be well to consult an experienced immigration lawyer before committing to any contracts for touring abroad to ensure that you have the proper work permits. Every year, international acts are accepted to festivals such as SXSW only to be turned away at the border for failing to secure the proper permits. There are even stories of bands being turned away for failing to file a tax return or convictions for driving under the influence or drug possession.

See also: Insurance/Legal Names/DOB and Nationality

See also: ISRCs/Unions/Side Projects

See Also: Pre-Existing Contracts and Aggregators

See Also: Band Administrator/Split Sheets

See Also: Social Networks and Domain Names/Trademarking the Band Name

See Also: Performing Rights Society Affiliations

See Also: Bank Accounts/Tax Returns/Accountants

See Also: Have you Registered with SoundExchange?