The Dotted Line: Why musical partners need written agreements

Even between trusted friends, it's better to have all expectations clearly stated

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? – Amos 3:3 (NLT)

“That’s not what I said.”

Those five words can create friction in any relationship, but especially between musicians that are both friends and business partners. Even if you perform and work with your best friends, disputes over decisions, finances or other matters can arise.

When we have musical friends that have been in our lives for years, we often assume they understand our needs and desires. That’s not a fair assumption.

It’s also not fair to assume that working with Christian brothers and sisters in music will help us avoid conflicts. Our shared faith does not guarantee shared understanding.people-woman-coffee-meeting

Whether we are dealing with friends in music, ministry or any other field, our first priority is to be trustworthy and dependable. The music suffers when musicians are distracted by disagreement.

How can we avoid this?  By putting all of our agreements in writing.

Some feel that written agreements indicate friction between people in close relationships.  That’s not true. Contracts and agreements aren’t a sign of mistrust. On the contrary, they are a sign of professionalism and respect toward your friends.

Putting an agreement in writing means you aren’t afraid to look your fellow artist in the eye and say, “I’m not here to take advantage of you.”  It insulates your relationship from infighting and insecurity.

Integrity requires that your words be indistinguishable from your actions. Written agreements give you an opportunity to reinforce your reputation by honoring your word.

Working out agreements and contracts isn’t fun. It takes discipline and a willingness to lay aside friendship for a moment. Sometimes it won’t go smoothly. But it’s worth it to protect your relationships from potential adversity.

Take your agreements seriously, so you can focus on the most important task – creating great music with others.

Real relationships require real accountability.

If you enjoyed this post, find more practical advice for musicians by going to and purchasing the God and Gigs text and study guide.

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