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Discussion Starter #1
I have gotten sucked into a newly established project where the maestro/leader is considering written agreements with members. This is in particular with regard to recordings to be released for download.

The content is 50% original, 50% covers, and the originals are all written by the maestro/leader. Everything is written down. Every single thing. Every note, every dynamic. The horns all play sheet music with staff notation and every note must be correctly communicated by us (or we'll surely hear about it later). The music is difficult and at times challenging - requires a lot of practice to get it right. None of us participates in the songwriting, although we do arrange covers occasionally for some of the longer gigs.

Oh, and recording. Endless recording, in the rehearsal studio. The maestro sets up a separate time for the horns to arrive, then sets a recording loop in the recording software. And it loops, and it loops, and we record take after take after take... multiple sessions, some songs I swear we've done 30 takes.

There have been high-profile gigs, at upscale venues. There was definitely money earned - but nothing paid. I wake up one morning to an email that "most of you have agreed to forgo payment so the money can be put back into the music for recording etc"... or some such thing like that. Well, I don't ever remember agreeing to that. In fact I distinctly mentioned that I have sitter costs that I need to cover.

So I am naturally very interested in whatever agreement this maestro comes up with. In addition to a flat rate per-set for a performance, i def want something in there for the recording time. What do you think is reasonable? I am not asking for songwriting royalties. I do not write in this band, and I never will (my choice). But is it customary to get more than a recording credit in this situation, i.e. for downloads?

I haven't even considered a tour or anything like that. I don't think we're ready for that yet. We're a pretty big group, 8-9 people at times.
 

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So you played gigs, rehearsals and spend countless hours in the studio without asking about the money first? And you didn't find it weird when the money did not show up the first few times? :shock: Am I missing something?
 

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First I was told there would be money paid. Then it isn't. So yeah i'm concerned, about 5 weeks into it. (i've always been on the fence from day 1 on this project)

There have been 2 paying gigs and the 2nd one we were told was last minute. Maestro let the touring bands keep their cut and didn't take anything.

If I could get it in writing that would be great moving forward, that's the goal.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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You say the "maestro" is considering written agreements. Let us know what that is when you get it it, but I smell a fairly large fish here. The first thing to establish though is whether this is meant to be a professional band or not. Is it something that is hoping to pay one day proper money (for gigs and recordings, download sales etc).

If so what you are investing now with your unpaid time should be paid back, and ideally with knobs on because you are gambling. The maestro is getting the glory and may well be taking a quite large cut, or may not.
 

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You should be getting paid for the rehearsals and studio time, work up your price just as if it is a studio session(s).

Know what your gigs pay before you play them.

My quartet members get a weekly salary that they are very happy with, when I ask them to rehearse for new material I pay them above their salaries. When we travel outside the US they get paid more also.

If you don't like or don't trust this "maestro" (maestro...good grief!) find a group you can be happy with...there are plenty for good solid accomplished musicians.
 

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First I was told there would be money paid. Then it isn't. So yeah i'm concerned, about 5 weeks into it. (i've always been on the fence from day 1 on this project).
I'd have to agree with Pete that the whole deal seem fishy. It sounds like the "maestro" may be trying to take advantage of the situation. It's hard to tell without being involved directly though. BUT, if there was a verbal agreement you would get paid for your work, you need to get this straight right now - it's been 5 weeks already.

If the written contract is about possible royalties from the sales of the recording, you need to make sure there is something in there about you getting paid for your rehearsal and recording time if you have to drop any royalty claim (which I'm guessing will most probably be the deal.) That would not include gigging which you would have to deal with separately.

If this deal is a scam, I'm not sure what your legal options would be though. One thing for sure, they'll need your agreement to use your work on a recording. That's a nice weight for you to have in an argument. How much unpaid hours have you put in the project so far? What are the other people involved saying?

If it was me, I would quit doing any more work before I get it straight.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
LOL the "maestro" is my term, not the bandleaders, but yeah, aspires/fancies to be sort of that.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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BTW, on your own you may not be in a great position. You are not dispensable. But talk to the others and see how they think . Faced with solidarity the maestro may prefer to be reasonable, open and fair rather than lose an entire band all at once.
 

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for recording time: union session fee.
 

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The content is 50% original, 50% covers, and the originals are all written by the maestro/leader. Everything is written down. Every single thing. Every note, every dynamic. The horns all play sheet music with staff notation and every note must be correctly communicated by us (or we'll surely hear about it later). The music is difficult and at times challenging - requires a lot of practice to get it right. None of us participates in the songwriting, although we do arrange covers occasionally for some of the longer gigs.
So, you're not so much a part of the band as you are a hired sidemusician, correct?

Oh, and recording. Endless recording, in the rehearsal studio. The maestro sets up a separate time for the horns to arrive, then sets a recording loop in the recording software. And it loops, and it loops, and we record take after take after take... multiple sessions, some songs I swear we've done 30 takes.
Again, this is telling me your "Maestro" doesn't see you as part of a band. You're musicians providing samples for him to manipulated in post production.

There have been high-profile gigs, at upscale venues. There was definitely money earned - but nothing paid. I wake up one morning to an email that "most of you have agreed to forgo payment so the money can be put back into the music for recording etc"... or some such thing like that. Well, I don't ever remember agreeing to that. In fact I distinctly mentioned that I have sitter costs that I need to cover.
This would have seemed like an ideal time to draw a line in the sand.

So I am naturally very interested in whatever agreement this maestro comes up with. In addition to a flat rate per-set for a performance, i def want something in there for the recording time. What do you think is reasonable? I am not asking for songwriting royalties. I do not write in this band, and I never will (my choice). But is it customary to get more than a recording credit in this situation, i.e. for downloads?
You should be getting union scale or better for live performances, and there's also set fees for recordings.

I haven't even considered a tour or anything like that. I don't think we're ready for that yet. We're a pretty big group, 8-9 people at times.
Have you considered organizing the other players and confronting the leader?

I'm assuming that at the live gigs, you're reading the charts. If they are as hard as you say, it would be a challenge for him to replace you, therefore you have some leverage for bargaining.

OTOH, if he makes you memorize them, then you have even MORE leverage!

If you walk and he has to cover your book, he'd end up having to pay.
 

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Understood about the writing royalties but you should get something. If this is not a union gig, don't look for union pay or you'll be out. I always negotiate both a session fee. (sometimes as low as $50) and performance royalties on recordings I didn't compose. The lower the fee the more "points" I negotiate on performance royalties. Many band leaders that do it for a living cycle musicians and keep the pay low. Remember - EVERYTHING is negotiable. If you don't ask, the leader doesn't even know you have a problem with it. There may be others in your group getting paid regularly. Part of their deal may be not to discuss it with the other players. The business end of what we do can be "dog eat dog". It's no fun but if you want to eat well you'd better bone up on your negotiating skills. If someone wants a written contract - get it before you play another note. When doing session work with future consideration being part of the compensation - always get a contract and have it notarized.
 
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