Let’s chat about the catch 22 when it comes to legal matters in the music industry. Yes, it is expected of our musicians to deal with matters in a professional manner, sign contracts, agree to splits among contributors, and the list goes on. Often these contracts are complicated. It feels like an old age ritual. A room where someone is showing off their wit unapologetically.
Simply put, no one wants to deal with latin phrases and the ever-so-often loopholes where artist pull on the shorter end. But, legal is important. It protects the creator and there are some easy things artist can do to protect themselves.
But a legal team or assistance is expensive.
No doubt about that. Legal advice can break the bank. A bank that artists in this day and aged don’t have access to. So, the question remains. How should musicians protect themselves? It starts by doing your homework. Understanding why you are stepping into an agreement with someone. What you are signing? And if it makes sense for your business? Ask yourself – does it add value?
Understand the difference, read up about it and learn more.
Looking for help on Google on music legal matters is tricky. But there are some easy things to lookout for or apply in your practice to avoid walking into trouble. Look for reliable music entities that offer legit advice in simple terms. Many independent digital distributors all boast blogs that hold valuable information.
Phone a friend.
If you have a lawyer friend or someone who is studying law, reach out. Try and connect with someone in your circle or family and ask if they would assist in going over the contract. They might even be able to refer you to a professional that will be willing to help.
You have the power to push back.
Not all contracts are set in stone. It is important to realise that you can push back on a deal. Whether you come to a mutual agreement is up to you. This is negotiation and naturally each party will try to push their preferred options forward first. It is normal to be concerned about loosing the deal, but keep in mind that if someone really likes what you do, they would try to find a reasonable solution. Consider what people bring to the table and if the offer is sincere.
Keep it simple.
Many of us in the industry feel comfortable with a handshake. Until money jumps into the picture and the handshake turns into a back stab. We are in a tough industry that requires thick skin. No matter how uncomfortable some of these legal matters make you feel, it is good practice to speak about these things right at the beginning when everyone has a clear view of the project. Put together a simple one-pager or email that outlines everyone’s roles and contributions. This makes everything clear for the start and gives you the freedom to move on the creative space.
Read the terms and conditions.
We all hate this part – Ts and Cs. This is simply something that every artist needs to consider especially in the digital world of streaming. Go look at what you can expect from Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, streaming platforms. Know your craft and the mediums you use to the best of your ability.
Look, the above tips are there to guide you through some of the basic processes that go hand-in-hand with the legal matters in music. There are many more intrinsics to this conversation that we will break down as we go along. We will decipher the legal world with you. During Episode 2 of Bandustry Live we discussed some of these legal issues with some top dogs in the industry. Learn more and watch David Feinberg, Nic Burger and Blinky Bill talk about legalities around the multimedia realm.