Who owns the social media profile of a band?

Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

Dear Fan, My previous band broke up over the defection of a member, and a clash of personal moral/ethics. It's been nine months, and we've decided to move on as a duo under a new band name without him. It gives us a chance to explore ideas that felt out of place in our former group or that were resisted by the now-departed member.

As the member of the former group that dealt with all of the social media and press directly I feel that our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) should be able to be used by us to promote our new project. But the former member thinks these accounts should be closed and or not used any longer.

Who owns the social media profile of a band? Is it kosher to use the accounts to promote our continuing project? Should they just be left dormant, which seems like a lot of wasted effort?


Dear M., This is a tricky one--of course you want to respect your friend and former band mate--but this doesn't have to be such a black and white thing. He has as much say as you do in what happens to the corpse of the career you built together. He doesn't get nixed just because his politics changed. Dude sounds a little inflexible, but then again, I can understand why he is not interested in promoting something that might not jibe with his personal stance, if it's in his power.

That said, why not ask for a small compromise and wage a minor campaign to redirect people to your new platforms, your new website and Twitter account. In light of new Facebook changes in "organic reach," unless you are willing to pay to promote your Facebook page, according to this Forbes report 2-percent of the fans that like the page will even see it, so now is a good time to get back into possession of your own real estate as a band. [Future of Music Coalition unpacks the huge impact on musicians here].

I have always been an advocate for a good ol' fashioned email list--direct contact, not mediated by a corporate entity--is about the punkest and wisest thing you can do in 2014. So why not get your platforms for your new group set up and rolling and set an agreed upon time/post limit for your redirection campaign with your former member? Three or so months seems fair for periodic updates referring people to the new group, with frequent reminders that this old account is going bye-bye shortly.

If you feel particularly enterprising, I suppose, you could DM every single one of your followers on the old account, pointing them to the new account. Might be more efficient. Ask the other member what is a comfortable way that serves everyone equally. Hopefully, if you can approach it with an open mind rather than one death-gripped solution, he will be flexible, too. And perhaps remind him that once he has a new band going, you are happy for him to use the old bands account in the same way. Cultivate some goodwill and it'll hopefully open him up to helping your new band out.

Best, Fan

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Jessica Hopper
Contact: Jessica Hopper