The title of this blog went through quite a few iterations. At first the title was going to be the Importance of Having an Attorney for Entertainers: Safeguarding Success. Next the title was going to be I’m am Entertainer- Do I Really Need an Attorney? I have a short video on YouTube with a similar title that performed well. You can check it out here. Ultimately, I went with a list because in the fast-paced and ever-evolving world a good list still is quite useful. Also, I believe the answer to do you really need an attorney as an entertainer is a resounding yes, so the best use of this space is explaining why you need one.
The world of entertainment is exciting, ever changing, and complex. After the hard work of developing your style, sound, and brand there is whole additional level of complexity that artists and entertainers face. Many of the issues that will arise are going to be things the entertainer has never had to work through. From contract negotiations to intellectual property rights, an entertainer that has a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by his/her side is going to do better than one that does not. Understanding and mastery of these issues can be critical to how much profit is made and who profits off of the art the artist makes. In this blog, we will explore ten reasons why entertainers need an attorney to navigate the legal landscape and protect their interests. These are not all the reasons but hopefully these ten are compelling.
- Contract Negotiations and Legal Documentation: One of the primary roles of an attorney for entertainers is to negotiate and review contracts. Whether it’s a record deal, film contract, endorsement agreement, or licensing deal, these legal documents can be complex and filled with industry-specific jargon. The first thing that I ask clients when we sit down to review a contract is – what do you believe you are being asked to sign. Many times, the terms that were discussed are not the terms included in the contract. Musicians often enter into contracts with record labels, publishers, managers, and other businesses. Each of these have different terms and sections that are important to navigate through. An attorney can help musicians understand the terms of these contracts and negotiate these contracts to ensure that they are getting the best possible deal. Some of the key items your entertainment attorney will assist with specific to your contract will be
- To negotiate better royalty rates
- To negotiate the level of creative control the artist may have
- To advocate for better funding of the project
- To deal with the legal aspects of touring and performing.
An entertainment attorney can ensure that the terms are fair, protects the artist’s rights, and helps avoid potential pitfalls or exploitative clauses.
- Intellectual Property Protection: Intellectual property (IP) is defined as a work or invention that is the result of creativity. IP is the lifeblood of many entertainers. It includes copyrights, trademarks, and patents that safeguard the artists creative works, brand identity, and inventions. An attorney specializing in entertainment law can help register and protect these valuable assets, ensuring that artists retain control over their name, brand identity and creations. An entertainment attorney will also work to prevent unauthorized use or infringement of the artists intellectual property. For musicians’ intellectual property can includes their songs, lyrics, recordings, and other creative works. An attorney can help musicians protect their intellectual property by registering copyrights and trademarks, and by drafting contracts that protect their rights.
- Royalties and Revenue Streams: Entertainers often have multiple revenue streams, including royalties from music sales, streaming platforms, merchandise, and licensing deals. An attorney can help negotiate favorable royalty rates, ensure proper accounting in conjunction with an accountant who specializes in royalty tracking, and represent the artist when and if any royalty disputes or underpayment concerns arise. They can also assist in auditing record labels, publishers, or other entities to ensure accurate accounting and fair compensation. Often artists don’t know, where to begin to set themselves up to collect royalties and your attorney will also be able to assist you with this.
- Image and Brand Management: Cultivating and maintaining a positive public image and managing a brand is crucial for entertainers. An attorney can help protect an artist’s reputation by advising on endorsement deals, sponsorship agreements, and licensing opportunities that align with the brand identity that the artist has created. They can also assist in managing potential legal issues related to defamation, privacy rights, or unauthorized use of an artist’s likeness.
- Dispute Resolution and Litigation: Unfortunately, legal disputes are not uncommon in the entertainment industry. Whether it’s a breach of contract, copyright infringement, or disputes with managers or agents, entertainers need legal representation to navigate these complex issues.If a musician has a legal dispute, such as a copyright infringement claim or a breach of contract, an attorney can help them resolve the dispute. If you have a dispute with a record label, publisher, manager, or other industry professional, an attorney can help you resolve the dispute in your favor. An attorney can help resolve conflicts through negotiation, mediation, or, if necessary, litigation, ensuring that the artist’s interests are protected.
- 6. Compliance with Industry Regulations: The entertainment industry is subject to various regulations and laws, including labor laws, tax regulations, and licensing requirements. Entertainers need an attorney who understands these regulations and can ensure compliance, avoiding potential legal issues or penalties. The music industry is regulated by a variety of laws, including copyright law, contract law, and tax law. The music industry is constantly changing, and the law is always evolving. An attorney can help musicians stay compliant with these laws and avoid larger more expensive legal problems. An attorney can help musicians understand their rights and responsibilities under these laws and regulations. The entertainment industry is complex, and there are many laws and regulations that govern it. Having a trusted advisor to work with you and help you remain in compliance is key.
- Get Advice on Business Decisions: Entertainers often have to make important business decisions, such as whether to sign with a major player in the industry or start their own venture. An attorney can help artists to make these decisions by providing them with legal advice. Additionally, an entertainment attorney will help you:
- To form a band or other business entity.
- To secure funding for your projects.
- To manage your finances.
8.To Get Protection from Exploitation: The music industry can be a challenging place, and there are people who may try to take advantage of musicians. This is not specific to labels and the large studios. Often there are people who send out offers that are just simply scams. I have one client who won a legitimate fashion designer award. Immediately after they won the competition, they were approached by someone claiming to be working with a large brand (the brand use stripes in their logo) offering a collaboration for the winner of the competition. Luckily for that client, we were already on retainer and were able to review the scam deal and advise the client against proceeding before any information or money was exchanged. An attorney can help entertainers protect themselves from exploitation by reviewing contracts and drafting contracts that protect their rights. They can also help entertainers by advising them on how to deal with situations like the one I described above.
- Help You Plan for Retirement and Secure Your Estate: If you are just starting out retirement is probably the last thing you are thinking about but a good attorney can help you answer some important questions. Are your assets in a trust? Do you need a trust? What will be your source of income when you stop actively working in your field? What are the rights of publicity in your home state and what does that mean for your estate? Will your family be in a good position to continue to reap the fiscal benefits of your art? These and questions like it are the things your attorney will help you to discover and plan for.
- To Connect You with Other Key Team Players: If you have a successful career making the art you love, you will likely need a team of people to assist you at one point or another. A good attorney is going to be able to connect you to and help you build your dream team. Who is on that dream team? You may need additional attorney’s that specialize in other areas of the law like real estate, you may need a financial advisor, you’ll definitely need an accountant. Your entertainment attorney will work with that team and may help you assemble that team.
In the highly competitive and often unpredictable world of entertainment, having an attorney is essential for artists and entertainers. From contract negotiations to intellectual property protection, revenue management, and dispute resolution, an attorney specializing in entertainment law can provide invaluable guidance and protection. By having a legal expert by your side, entertainers and artists can focus on their craft, knowing that their legal interests are safeguarded. If you are in need of an entertainment attorney you may contact Browne Law. We are here when you need us where you are®.
I do hope this helps! And if you have not already head over to my YouTube channel for video content you might enjoy.