I am a music recording artist who is up and coming. My agent charges me a commission, but has also added a Sunset Clause that would be in effect for 16 months after our contract is up, saying I would pay him commission for events that he didn't help me find or book. Is this legal, and if I were to take him to court over this, would he be able to defend this action? For the record, I am based out of Los Angeles but the contract is under the jurisdiction of another state.
This is a common clause in agent and manager contracts. Although it is legal, it is usually a negotiable point. You should consult with an entertainment attorney to protect your interests before you sign anything.
Ivan Parron, Esq.
Mr. Parron is correct that a sunset provision is one of many negotiable terms in management agreements. The rationale behind this type of provision is that the manager’s efforts to help develop an artist’s career may continue to bear fruit after the expiration of the management agreement. One potential compromise could be to provide that the manager’s commission gradually decreases over the length of the sunset term. In any event, you should definitely hire an entertainment lawyer to advise you regarding all aspects of your management agreement.
This post is not intended to constitute a solicitation or legal advice. Accordingly, you should not rely on the information provided, and you should always seek the advice of competent counsel, licensed in your jurisdiction, before making any decisions with legal ramifications.
I'm in agreement with the other two attorneys that this type of clause is common and is also something that you might want to negotiate away if possible before signing anything. (I assume you've already signed.) I would urge you to have a consultation with a California entertainment attorney. Despite what the contract says about state jurisdiction, I'm not so sure that California law does not apply if you are based there and working there.
Also, from my limited research into California entertainment law, I know that your state has pretty strict laws about agents, artists' managers, the definitions and roles of each, state registration requirements, and how and what they're allowed to charge. Sometimes someone who calls himself a manager really meets the definition of an agent (or vice versa) and is subject to regulation by statute. So, if this sunset clause is going to be a problem for you, please have someone read the contract, check the definitions in the statutes, and see if there's a way out. If not, chalk it up to compensating someone who helped launch your career as an artist, and get through the 16 months the best you can. Good luck to you.
Rochelle S. Rabin, Attorney at Law
101 Lindenwood Drive, Suite 225
Malvern, PA 19355
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It's legal; you may be able to negotiate it out of your contract.
I focus my practice on (video) gaming industry, casino gambling, and complex internet law issues, electronic free speech, entertainment law, copyright and trademark law, and computer fraud. I primarily represent game developers and founders of emergent internet technologies. The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship.