How to Handle the Organization and Legal Parts of the Music Business

By Loren Weisman

In the middle of all the music, branding, and music business plan are the legal and organizational elements that make the business and any investments legitimate. This includes the internal contracts between each member in a band, the contracts with independent contractors you work with or have worked with, who wrote what, who is getting what, and the organization of the group into an actual business venture that has accounting and accountability.

These are the first pieces that make the puzzle that much easier to put together. These are also the first business-related questions that are posed by many larger funding groups in their applications. If you don’t have the business elements in place, get them before you begin your pitch.

Lawyers and copyright laws

You need a lawyer to review your plan, assist with your internal agreements, and help set up an actual corporation as well as the bank accounts. This is a preliminary step that many musicians think is covered when the money comes, but those who organize this first have a place and a real business to actually deposit money in to.

The incorporation of your company with basic bylaws and fundamentals can be done online these days, but it’s a good idea to get a lawyer to assist you with the process for the exact details.

Your copyrights and publishing need to be in order, as well. Who wrote what, who gets what from the writing, and who is included internally and externally in the compositions should be set down in writing.

Accounting, accountants, and auditing

An accountant can help review your music business plan and put together some of the basic structure for monies coming in and going out as well how they can be tracked and reported. Preparing a system for how you track the expenses and keep the receipts also builds additional confidence with investors and keeps you prepared for any kind of audits or tax reviews that could come your way.

Save and track every receipt. Think like you could be audited, because at some point you most likely will be. If not by the government, some investors will want to double-check to make sure the money is going where it’s supposed to be going.

From the internal agreements to incorporating to copyrighting, accounting, and finalizing all the independent contracts, the best music business plan is held together by the glue of its legal and business organization. Your plan can state how it does all these wonderful things and exactly how it works, but without the organizational and legal elements to make it binding, your business is just a concept.