If you’re in a group there are some considerations that solo artists never have to worry about and one of those is, what do you do when one member decides they’ve had enough? It happens over and over and we all remember those shock moments, like when Robbie left Take That, when Geri left the Spice Girls, when Kim Deal left The Pixies…ok, some are more high profile than others, but still, when a band member says enough is enough and walks out, often unexpectedly and sometimes in the middle of a tour, what happens next? Whether the band continues without them or not, this affects the record deal.
First of all, be under no illusions here, your record company is a business and when a band member leaves they want to capitalise. It will be written in your contract that if a member leaves the band the record company has the first option to sign them as a solo artist. Although the record company has no loyalty, the deal you make as the leaving member is likely to be less favourable than the one you had when you were in the band. The reason behind this is quite fair and has nothing to do with a record company’s loyalty to the band. You, as a solo artist, haven’t yet proven your worth. You could flop. Whereas the band is an already known quantity and the record company knows what it’s getting with them. You have yet to prove yourself. On the other hand, if you are the leaving member and you ARE the band, in other words you are the lead singer or the most popular member, then the record company has the option to terminate its agreement with the remaining band as this is no longer the band they signed in the first place. As always, the record company will do what will profit them the most.
It isn’t usually a standard clause in your record deal, but you can have an agreement based on what is known as Key Members. Under this agreement if a key member of the band leaves, the whole band is in breach of the contract and simply can’t continue without that key member. Consider a band like Coldplay. Unless you’re an uber fan how many people know the other members of the band apart from Chris Martin? Imagine Chris Martin leaving Coldplay and the band continuing without him. It wouldn’t be Coldplay anymore and most likely wouldn’t be successful. Your record company does not want the dead weight of the remaining band hanging around its neck. How did Nsync fair after Justin Timberlake left? You get the picture. The problem with using key members in your contract is, the band has to agree to who is a key member and who isn’t. In other words, who is dispensable and who isn’t. This alone could lead to the break up of the band!
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