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Other Legal and Business Stuff

Sampling Clearances

Samples are pieces of another sound recording reused like an instrument or sound effect. If you have any samples on your record, you need to obtain clearances from the publisher of the composition being sampled AND, separately, the record label that owns the master being sampled. Do this as early as possible, because sometimes they will refuse to issue a license, or the licensing fee may not be affordable (they can get expensive).

Work for Hire Agreements

Most session players, engineers, designers, etc. operate on a “work for hire” status. This means they retain no claims on future royalties or ownership rights to their work.

Publishing Companies

Anyone writing lyrics, music or arrangements should have their own publishing company so when the songs are copyrighted, they receive the correct credit and future profits from potential licensing if the songs are used.

Band Agreement

You should have a clear and simple written agreement among the group members about how the finances of the recording project will be handled, who owns the copyrights and arrangements, who owns the group’s name, how will profits (and losses) be divided (equally, percentage), how are members fired and hired, what if someone wants to quit, etc. Try to think ahead to the worst case scenario, and then write something out about how it will be handled and get everyone to sign.

Band Incorporation

Consider incorporating your band as a legal entity. This might be an LLC, Partnership or sole proprietorship.

Name Trademarks

Be very sure that you have the right to use the group and record label name you have chosen. If someone else legally owns your name already, not only could you lose your name, you might even get sued if you use it publicly. Go to the US Patent and Trademark Office site to search for existing trademarks.


A separate checking account helps you to keep track of your expenses. Get an account that has a debit card, which makes purchasing goods and services easy. Make sure you save all your receipts.

Quicken and Microsoft Money are two examples of financial software that will help you and your band to keep track of who owes what, who gets what, and if you’re making any profit!

Many of the expenses involved in releasing your CD may be tax deductible, which is another reason to stay organized and keep good records.

Consult an entertainment attorney.

Have you checked whether your chosen band name is taken already? Do this before putting out your album.

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