Connect With Us

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner






Tribute Bands - Are They Legal?

Look through your local gig listings and chances are you’ll find as many tribute bands and singers as there are original acts. Their popularity continues to grow and not just in smaller venues. Some are able to fill the largest sites like Wembley Arena and the O2. The Australian Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin Experience, Bootleg Beatles and Hollywood U2 are examples of successful tribute bands that have performed thousands of shows across the globe, year after year. These acts have earned their success by replicating the original band’s music to a very high standard, as well as providing an exciting visual performance alongside the sonic conventions. 

Although the level of musicianship amongst popular tribute bands is exceptional, where does the law stand in regards to bands that make a living by playing another band’s music, and trading off their original name and image? 

Technically, a band that is still trading as a live act could have a case for legal action against a tribute act if it could be shown that they were losing audiences and revenue to the tribute act. An original band also has the right to preserve its brand from being undermined or devalued by the presence of a tribute act. Another legal issue is where an audience member believes he was duped into believing that a tribute act was the genuine original act.

In 2010, Lawyers for Universal Music in Sweden sent out legal notices to more than 15 Abba tribute acts demanding they stop trading off the name ‘Abba’. Well established tribute acts such as Abba Queens, Abba Mania and Swede Dreamz Abba Tribute were all ordered to change their names immediately, according to an Independent article published in June 2010. A spokesperson for Universal Music told the press: “We’ve had complaints from all over the world where fans feel they’ve been misled and we feel it’s our duty to protect the Abba brand from misuse.” A number of bands license out their name and ask tribute acts to pay to use it, but the spokesperson said Abba do not plan to do this.

Another relevant case that made newspaper headlines was when Bon Jovi sued an all-female tribute act called ‘Blonde Jovi’ in 2009. A legal letter from the law firm Blakely Sokoloff Taylor & Zafman to Blonde Jovi stated, “It has recently come to our attention that your band is using the mark and name BLONDE JOVI in connection with live musical performances; more specifically, a Bon Jovi tribute band. Unfortunately, and despite the fact that our client appreciates the reverence that your band pays tribute to Bon Jovi, as a tribute band, our client nevertheless is charged with the duty of enforcing its trademark rights. In this regard, BJP cannot allow your band to use the mark and name BLONDE JOVI (or any other BJP trademarks), as such use creates a likelihood of confusion with our client, and capitalises on the goodwill and reputation of its well-known marks.”

Here we can see two examples where bands do not approve of imitators making a living off of their original endeavours. As a musician and a member of a band, I can understand why bands such as Bon Jovi and Abba are protective of their brand name and music. Over the course of a band’s career, countless hours, days and weeks are spent crafting original music that has earned the band their place in the limelight. The music they have created is their own and holds an intrinsic value to the band members. It does not seem fair for an imitator band to capitalise off the immeasurable hard work of the original band.

However, some big acts are more than happy for tribute acts to ply their trade as it is offers free promotion for the original band’s records. Especially where the original group may have disbanded or no longer tour. Australian Pink Floyd was hired by none other than original Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour to play at his 50th birthday party. Clearly, Pink Floyd has no issues with a band imitating them and selling 3 million tickets to concerts worldwide. 

Tribute acts have to pay PRS (Performing Rights Society) fees for sound clips used on their websites. As for live performances, it is the responsibility of the venue (not the act) to pay the PRS fees. Most major live venues will be well used to paying their PRS fees, but for private performances such as weddings and parties, the PRS won’t usually pursue fees where it’s too difficult to police.

As we have seen, original acts differ widely in their response to tribute bands. What is not in doubt is the popularity of tribute acts with the music listening audience. Tribute acts will claim that they are simply paying homage to the great originals that have inspired the millions of people worldwide. And they wouldn’t do it if there was no demand. There may be no malicious intent to make a living off of other peoples creativity, but the original band should always have the right to protect its trademark if they feel their hard-earned and cherished name is in danger of being tarnished.

About The Author:
Gideon Waxman is a London based drummer with over 13 years experience, and is the drummer of metal act Familiar Spirit. You can find more of his tips at Drum Helper – a free online resource dedicated to helping drummers achieve more from their playing.

Tribute Bands - Are They Legal?


8 Inner Game Tips For Modern Artist Development

Along my journey into the souls optimal development and unfoldment I’ve come to realize how important your inner game is.
The difference between a good inner game and bad one are the difference between getting and nailing that next opportunity-or not. 
Having a good inner game is mission critical to the true success and freedom that you desire and deserve for your music career.

Click to read more ...


What Your Band’s Website Really Needs

Marketing is the difference between a band website that gets a lot of traffic and one that doesn’t. But how is marketing your website different than marketing your music? You’re about to find out.

Click to read more ...


MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: Expenses On Tour


How Professional Musicians Can Manage And Limit Expenses When On Tour

Touring as a musician can be incredibly costly. Lodging, transportation and dining expenses all can add up extraordinarily quickly. If you’re a professional musician who wants to keep your touring costs reasonable and low, however, there are various things you can try. Going on a tour comfortably as a musician doesn’t have to break the bank.

Click to read more ...


When Public Brands Change In The Music Business

In this highly competitive industry, musical artists must be up to date with the consumer trends, behaviors and attitude, and of course the craft itself, in order for them to remain in the market. Artists need to create a long-term bond with their audience if they plan on keeping their fans and making it grow. For a long-term relationship to last, trust is considered as one of the key variables, if their listener has this, they will be confident that the music released would be up to their standard and would perform its stated purpose. If an audience is satisfied with the quality of service the artist presents, then it tends to derive loyalty. Brand effect or the power to extract a positive response after it is used help develop and deepen listeners’ loyalty of the artists.

Click to read more ...


How To Make A Living As A Singer

It’s every singer’s dream to have a career doing what they love, but the odds of becoming famous are, quite literally - one in a million.

Click to read more ...


3 Online Music Courses That Can Revitalize Your DIY Music Career

If you’re like me, you don’t have a huge budget for music.

So even though going to music college sounds cool, it’s just not feasible.

Fortunately, there’s a great alternative: online music courses.

Click to read more ...


Five Reasons To Learn Music Production For The Benefit Of Your Band 

Playing music in a band isn’t all about writing and playing songs live (at least not anymore). In 2018, you must be ahead of the curve and be proactive with your content. Social media, graphic design, video production, and even music production should all be fields you become familiar with.

The more content production you can keep “in-house” the better off your band will be. Music production, specifically, is a great skill to have if recording and technology are your strong-suites. In this article, I’ll explain why you should learn music production and recording to help further your band’s career. 

Click to read more ...


MusicThinkTank Weekly Recap: Fake Fans


Threatin: Fake News, Fake Fans, Fake Reality

The media is full of negative commentaries regarding the Threatin story and to a degree rightly so, but to be fair, hasn’t variations of “hype” been going on since the beginning of the music industry? Not to mention PR stunts. Had Threatin played to clubs at least partially full of fans to see him, it would have been a success, and no one would have been the wiser for it. We simply would not have heard about it, and it would just be another industry story known to a small group of friends. Inflated stories and skewed realities are the ingredients to the legends of rock n’ roll. According to Wikipedia, Rick Rubin’s early band The Pricks “…biggest claim to fame, was being thrown off the stage at CBGB after two songs for brawling with the heckling audience. These hecklers were friends of the band instructed to instigate a confrontation so as to get the show shut down and create a buzz.

Click to read more ...


How Music Therapy Can Help In Addiction Recovery?

Music can be a tranquil, relaxing, and very beneficial thing. There are so many different types of music out there and every individual has their own preferred type of music. While it can help just about anyone, music can be truly beneficial for those who are in recovery from an addiction.

Click to read more ...


How Responsible Musicians Properly Store Delicate Musical Instruments

Instruments help musicians make breathtaking music. Musicians have to thank their instruments by looking after them appropriately as well. If you want to keep your rather fragile instrument dependable and strong in storage, then you have to focus on effective and tried and tested approaches. It’s important to never approach musical instrument storage in a careless or rash way.

Click to read more ...


How To Make An Audience Feel Nostalgic Using Music

Guest post by Hunter Farris. This article originally appeared on Soundfly’s Flypaper

Have you ever gone back to your childhood stomping grounds and felt goosebumps from some profound sense of immediate nostalgia? Do you ever get that same feeling watching television or a film?

There’s something magical about a director or composer’s ability to create that poignant sense of looking back or the joy of feeling like a kid again, and the cascade of emotions that come with it, with image and sound. Depending on the project, it might be as simple as a well-arranged descending chord progression, or adding sound designto paint an expressive picture of a particular moment in time shared by many of us in our youth, like a swing set or a wind chime, for example. But there really is no one magical trick that works for all audiences all the time.

Click to read more ...