Who gets what in a band breakup?
November 13, 2007 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Bassist buys the tour van then quits the band in the middle of the tour. What's a fair way to distribute the money now that it's over?

The agreement at the beginning was that the bassist would be financially responsible for the van and that he would keep it when the tour was over. The bassist has 3 months to find a vehicle but doesn't look for one until a week before the tour, and buys one for $2400 the day before the tour begins.

Less than 1/4 of the way into the tour the bassist has a falling out with the rest of the band (to put things charitably) and abruptly takes off, leaving the van and all documents behind. He asks the band to pay him $2400 immediately, telling them to sell the van for more than that when the tour ends and to keep the extra money. Band feels they have no obligation to pay upfront, but plans to try and sell the van at the end and send the bassist his money at that point.

Over the rest of the tour it becomes clear that the van was not purchased in good condition as the bassist had said. The van breaks down multiple times. All the tires, the alternator, and the tensioner have to be replaced to keep the van running. The repairs run $850, which the band pays for. Two shows are canceled as a result of the van breaking down, representing ~$175 in lost revenue. The band still plans to sell the van for a profit, recoup their costs, and send the bassist what he paid.

Just before the end of the tour the transmission fails. The repair is estimated at $2k. The band finishes the tour and spends many hours trying to sell the van, but the best they are able to get for it in its condition is $1500.

How much money should each party get?

Does the band have a right to keep any of the money they spent on repairs? The bassist screwed the band by taking off in the middle of the tour. He did keep to his agreement to provide the tour vehicle, but the band incurred significant costs because he was not diligent in getting the vehicle checked out. The remaining band members must also take on the bassist's share of band expenses which existed before the tour. What's fair?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is his name on the title? Do you even have the right to sell it?

As much as it sucks, I think you need to forget about the "bassist's share of band expenses" as long as it's not a completely unreasonable amount.

At the end of the day, I think you would deduct the amount that you spent out of pocket on repairs from whatever you're able to sell it for, and then send that amount to him.
posted by dhammond at 9:21 PM on November 13, 2007

I don't have an actual answer for you yet (apart from smart-arse comments about bass players), but can you clarify - the repair to the transmission - was this actually done for $2,000, or is it something that still needs to be done? Have they actually sold the van for $1500, or is this just the best offer they are likely to get? Your use of the present tense confuses my addled mind.
posted by Jimbob at 9:24 PM on November 13, 2007

If you haven't sold it yet, (and this may be a bit harsh) you could always mail him the keys and tell him where to pick up his van.
posted by dhammond at 9:27 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd do what dhammond said.
posted by flabdablet at 10:08 PM on November 13, 2007

Pay the bassist for the shows he performed in, and return the keys to him.
posted by alan at 10:16 PM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm assuming the title is in the bassist's name. This is a tricky situation, because the band paid to fix his van, and also depreciated the value of the van by using it (whatever trivial or nontrivial amount that may be). The repair costs are easy to show, but you're going to have to estimate how much it costs him for the band to use the van during the tour (maybe by calculating the depreciation value).

Once you calculate these amounts, there should be a net value. If it cost him more than the amount the band paid for repairs to use the van, then obviously the band owes him money. Otherwise, I'd say it's the other way around. In the latter situation, do what dhammond suggests.
posted by spiderskull at 10:55 PM on November 13, 2007

Unless a new agreement was made after the breakup, the original agreement was that the van would belong to the bassist after the tour. So give him the van.
posted by happyturtle at 11:32 PM on November 13, 2007

1. In that moment that you chose to use the van for the rest of the tour instead of insisting he take it with him, you elected to be responsible for the upkeep. Next time, walk away from the van and rent/buy another one. Was your total outlay more than it would have cost to buy or rent another van? If so, you made a bad decision, and if not, you're ahead.

2. Let the bassist worry about selling the van. Send him the keys. He was nice to loan it to you, but you don't owe him anything, and you are certainly not responsible for selling it on his behalf. He's lucky you didn't abandon it when it first broke down, as we would have then been liable for towing/storage and any tickets it received.

3. You owe him for the shows he performed in. That's all you owe him. He owes you nothing. Remember that he's taking a loss on the van, most likely, and you're taking the loss on the missed shows and (maybe) the repairs you did if they cost more than other travel arrangements would have cost. You ALL lose. Lessons learned all around.
posted by davejay at 11:57 PM on November 13, 2007

Wow. This would be a great question for a contracts final examination in law school.

It appears from your original agreement that the bassist was incurring maintainance obligations on the van. It also appears that it was his job to find a reliable vehicle. When he ditched you a quarter of the way through the tour, I think you had a duty to either a) pay him the $2,400 upfront b) make a modified agreement about the vehicle or c) try and find a replacement. It appears that you made a modified agreement, which would mean you incurred the obligation for maintainance, etc.

However, it was his job to get a vehicle in good condition. If he failed to do so, all those repair costs should be deducted from what you owe him for the vehicle. And then you should deduct the $175 you missed out on. And then you should figure out what his share of the profits was from the band gig the first 1/4 of the trip, and set aside that amount for him. Tell him if he wants the proceeds from the van he's going to have to authorize you guys to sell it for the reduced price or, if he wants to keep it, come with a check for the repair cost you guys spent plus the $175 you guys missed out on minus his share from the first 1/4 of the trip profits.

Bottom line: I wouldn't give him the keys to the van without that check. And IANAL.
posted by Happydaz at 12:04 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

follow-up from the OP:

Some info that I forgot: The van was purchased with 108k miles and sold with 113k. There are three remaining members in the band.

Clarifications: the bassist's name was on the title. He left the title for the van and the title for his other car with a friend of his (not a band member), left the country, and asked that both vehicles be sold and the money be sent to him. The transmission repair was not done. The van was sold for $1500 and the title signed over by the bassist's friend.

No one gets paid for performing since the tour was a net loss for the band -- a loss roughly equal to the amount of the van repairs. The band did not expect to make enough money to pay for a vehicle, and only decided to go on tour after the bassist agreed to provide one.

Some proposed solutions:

1) Send the bassist $1500 minus his share of the gas purchased while he was in the band.

2) Send the bassist $1500 minus his share of the gas and minus the full cost of the repairs.

3) Send the bassist $1500 minus his share of the gas and some portion of the cost of repairs (1/4? 1/2?)
posted by jessamyn at 5:02 AM on November 14, 2007

I'd send him a check for $475 minus his share of the gas while he was in the band.

You were lucky to get anything for it if it needs $2k worth of repairs and you only paid $2.4k for it in the first place.

He asked you to sell it for profit and keep the rest for yourself - well essentially you sold it for $3500 but it needed $2850 of repairs, which leaves him $650 minus expenses he caused.
posted by missmagenta at 7:13 AM on November 14, 2007

Fuck fair. What's in your interest? You are parties with opposing interests in the matter. It is in your interest to give him a settlement which gives him enough of his interest so as to make a settlement possible, but enough in your interest so that you don't get screwed.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:21 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, I'm not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. Seek the advice of a competent professional in your jurisdiction.

Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:23 AM on November 14, 2007

Your bassist bought a van for $2400. It is his van, end of story.

When he decided to leave the tour, he offered to sell it to you for $2400, and you refused, so the van was still his.

He could have taken the van back, but he elected to allow your band to continue using it without collecting any money or transferring the title, so the van was still his.

During the tour, the van required repairs. You needed the van fixed, so you paid for the repairs. Those are rightfully your responsibility, because the bassist didn't need or approve them. You are out the $850 in repair costs.

As a favor, you sold the van for the bassist. Since you did not negotiate a fee in advance, it seems like he is entitled to the money from the sale of his own vehicle. The repairs are not his concern or responsibility, since he was not touring at the time they were needed. If you did have an agreement to share gas expenses for the tour, it would be fair to deduct his share from the $1500 check.

In short, go with Option 1.
posted by designbot at 7:40 AM on November 14, 2007

Actually, if the title was in the bassist's friend's name, he should have received the check for selling the car. As the legal owner of the car, this should have been his problem. I'm not sure how you ended up with the money in the first place.
posted by designbot at 7:43 AM on November 14, 2007

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