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Releasing music without permission of session musician
#1
Hello,

I recently recorded a CD and paid for the recording session, mixing, mastering, and featured artists so I own the master rights. However, I had a fight with one of the band members who wasn't paid and I was stupid enough to not have an agreement with him before the session.

Am I allowed to release the music without his written permission? I am fine paying any royalties as long as I can release the music.

Warm regards
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#2
A couple of points here;

It does not matter who paid for the studio/recording/mixing/mastering. That is irrelevant. Who wrote the music and/or lyrics? Why did this band member not get paid? Is he a session musician or a permanent member of the band? Do you have an agreement with any label or company? What do the other members of the band think? You need to provide more details about the issue in order for someone to assist you.

My suggestion based on the information you have provided is pay the man first. If you have paid other people but not him then he has a case. BTW, if he has performed on the album make sure he is credited on the sleeve notes as well.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
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#3
Dear Jerome,

the music and lyrics were written by myself. None of the band members got paid. I received a grant from my country to record/promote one of my bands. The money was enough to cover all the recording costs, but no many was left to offer to the musicians. I only paid 2 well known musicians to be featured on 2 tracks of the recording, who otherwise wouldn't play on the music. He played 80 % of the concerts, so I would consider him as part of the band. There is no agreement with a label or a company. I haven't talked to the other band members as I first wanted to be sure on the legal details. Giving the musician credit is a must. I totally agree and never planned anything else.
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#4
If none of the band members got paid - including yourself - then you can probably release the music. BUT - before you do I suggest you talk to the other members of the band. See what they think about the situation. If he is a permanent member of the band you are going to need his co-operation for gigs etc. And if the CD sells he will be paid anyway. If he played 80% of the concerts (how many?) he surely must have got some payment from that. You mention 'one of my bands' - how many are there? Also, you paid two musicians for their work on the album so really you should be paying the others as well, unless you have an agreement with the other members of the band that no-one is getting paid and any revenue will come from sales/gigs etc. But you would have to have that in writing. It's a tricky situation all right. Finally, try talking to the band member in question. Come to an agreement and get it down on paper. Quibbling about money is the number one reason bands fall apart. U2 have an arrangement that has worked for a long time. No matter who comes up with the songs/lyrics/riffs/ideas etc. - they all take an equal share of the profits. It's one of the reasons they are still together.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
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#5
Thanks for all the great advice.

As mentionned, the 2 artists in question are well known and all the band members agreed to use some of the grant mony to pay their fee because it will help sell the CD and looks great on our portfolio. In fact we plaid very few concerts, but high end once (Montreux Jazz Festival, Kriol Jazz in Cape Vert), that is why I received the grant. I, currently have 3 bands, but this music (electro/Jazz) has some nice potential, that is why I decided to use all my grant money in one band. I know an agreement would be best, but a lot of good things were happening to us so fast, that everything became very busy and I missed the opportunity to set up an agreement.
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#6
I'm no expert on these matters but one thing I do know is if you do not get it all sorted out in the beginning then things can get very messy later on. BTW can we hear any of this music anywhere? Even a short sample or so. I am quite curious as to what it sounds like.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
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#7
The bottom line is that if you can't come to a mutual agreement - which you should get in writing - then you need legal advice. Not just advice from unqualified members (such as myself) on a music forum. Advice from lawyers.

Yes that will cost you. But it will cost you a lot less to find out exactly where you stand now and settle things NOW rather than go to litigation later.
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