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Erin M. Jacobson - Music and Entertainment Attorney, Los Angeles, CA

Erin M. Jacobson is is an experienced deal negotiator and a seasoned advisor of intellectual property rights who protects artists, songwriters, music publishers, and other music professionals. Her clients include Grammy and Emmy Award winners, independent artists and companies, and distinguished legacy catalogues, as her knowledge of both classic music and current industry practices places her in a unique position to protect and revitalize older catalogues. She handles all types of music industry agreements, with an emphasis on music publishing. In addition to being named a Super Lawyers Rising Star and one of the Top Women Attorneys in Southern California, Ms. Jacobson is a frequent author and speaker, and has been featured in publications, including Billboard and Forbes. She also is on the Board of Directors for both the California Copyright Conference (CCC) and the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP).

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What Does “In Perpetuity” Mean?

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Categories: Articles, Copyright, Law, Legal Issues, Music Contracts, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hand Time Pocketwatch Forever Perpetuity

Image via freeimages.com

There are certain contract terms that come up regularly in music and entertainment contracts and people often ask me what these common terms mean. One of the most common is the phrase “in perpetuity.” According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the definition of “in perpetuity” is “… that a thing is forever or for all time.”

In practice, the phrase “in perpetuity” usually applies to a transfer of rights or clauses that survive contract termination. For example, under a contract you might grant the rights to use your name and likeness in perpetuity, meaning that the company to which you granted those rights can use your name and likeness forever.

This phrase is also used in situations where certain contract clauses will survive termination of the contract. Contracts usually have an agreed upon term length, upon which the contract terminates after that duration has passed. For example, a contract might have a term of two or three years after which the contract ends and the parties stop working together. However, there may be other clauses within the contract – maybe a non-disclosure clause — that the parties have to abide by forever even though the actual term of the agreement is over and the parties are no longer working together. There are other clauses that are often stipulated to survive the contract term, however, they are mostly part of the “boilerplate” sections of the contract.

I’ll be doing more of the short articles explaining a few other common contract terms. If you like it please leave a comment below letting me know.

Do you have more questions about contract language or especially language specific to your situation? If so, please contact Erin today to schedule a consultation.*

 

*Consultations are available for CA residents only.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. This article does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user and Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. is not acting as your attorney or providing you with legal advice.   The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not rely on, act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.

If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity.

 

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New Photos

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Categories: Uncategorized

I recently took some photos for the website with fantastic photographer Allison Knight.  You’ll see some of the photos throughout my website, but here are a few more.

 

Clearly, the results speak for themselves!  Allison is also very personable and easy to work with.  To view more of Allison’s profile or book a session, visit her website Allison Knight Images.

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How to Prove Someone Stole Your Band Name (Or Find Out if YOUR Band Name Is Causing a Legal Conflict)

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Categories: Articles, Law, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Trademark, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Image from freeimages.com

Image from freeimages.com

Many musicians know that they need some protection for their band name, but are confused as to what type. In fact, musicians often ask me, “Do I need to copyright my band name?” Copyright, however, is a protection for creative works: compositions, recordings, films, artwork, merchandise designs, etc. Trademarks and servicemarks are what distinguish and identify sources of goods and services. In the case of band names, a trademark for a specific band name reflects back to what that band provides – a certain type of music, an image, a feeling or community for its fans.

For example, Van Halen and Aerosmith are both registered trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They’re also both classic rock bands from the same time period, but a music listener knows he or she will be getting a different kind of music, feeling, image, etc. from each of those bands. As a non-music example, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are both brown-colored sodas, but a consumer knows that these two drinks and the expectations associated with them are different.

Whether you’ve already registered your band name or think you might register it in the near future, it’s important to understand the basics of trademark infringement lawsuits to avoid potential conflicts. Here are the three ways to prove an infringement on your band name – and to determine whether you’re infringing on someone else’s.

(Please note that I’m not a litigator and this explanation is only a general overview of the basic principles considered in a trademark infringement suit. Actual cases may include nuances not discussed in this article.)

1. Plaintiff owns the trademark

The plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) must show that he or she owns the trademark that’s allegedly being infringed. A plaintiff is required to have a federal trademark registration in order to sue in federal court, and showing the federal registration creates a presumption of valid trademark ownership, although this presumption can be rebutted. Things start to get trickier when there are unregistered marks involved, bringing up common law state issues as well as examination of the prior uses of the marks.

2. Plaintiff has priority to use the mark

The proof required here is similar to that explained in the previous point. Someone with a federally registered trademark has a legal presumption that his or her mark is senior to the allegedly infringing mark, and that they therefore have priority of and exclusive rights to the mark in question. Again, this can be rebutted and can be complicated by unregistered marks and/or other issues.

 

3. The defendant’s mark will create a likelihood of confusion

Likelihood of confusion is the real meat of a trademark dispute. Basically, the court will compare the two trademarks to see if their similarity would be confusing to a consumer, and thus harmful to the senior mark. In relation to bands, it would depend on whether the two band names would cause confusion about which band is which.

Here are the factors:

Strength of the senior user’s mark

A court will look at the strength of the mark used in commerce first. Again, we can use Aerosmith as an example. The word “Aerosmith” doesn’t have any real meaning in the dictionary and is also not likely to be commonly associated with rock music; therefore, the name “Aerosmith” is very distinctive in identifying the band. This is much stronger than something like “Steven’s Band” or “Joe’s Rockin’ Band,” which could be applied to any musicians named Steven or Joe.

Similarity of the marks

This one is fairly self-explanatory, but the court will look at the degree of similarity between the two names. Aspects like whether the names sound or are spelled similarly, as well as whether the names might look the same or have similar meanings, are all considered.

Similarity of the products or services

This factor will look at what’s being offered by the mark owner. In the case of music, both bands would be offering music. To look more specifically, both bands could be offering rock music, or alternatively one might play death metal and one children’s music. If only one party is a band, maybe that party plays rock music while the other party offers clothing or high-end power tools. A court will look at how both names or brands are being marketed and whether they are to the same audience.

Proximity of the goods and services

This factor looks at the physical proximity (location) in which the two goods or services are sold. Using the example above, let’s say the two marks in dispute are the maker of power tools and a band. Power tools will be sold at a hardware store, whereas CDs will be sold at a music store, making their physical proximity farther apart and confusion less likely. However, two bands with similar names would both be sold in music stores, making confusion between the two marks more likely.

Likelihood the senior user will also offer the same type of products as the junior user

Again, let’s stick with the same example. If a band comes along with a similar name to a power tool company, less confusion would be evident if the band sticks to only making music and not offering power tools as part of their merchandise items. However, if the senior user is a clothing brand, it’s probably very likely the band will want to sell T-shirts or other apparel at their concerts and on their website, making the likelihood of confusion between the two marks stronger.

Evidence of actual confusion

People confusing one band’s album for another or buying tickets to one band’s concert thinking they were going to see the other band would be examples of actual confusion. Evidence of someone actually confusing the two marks isn’t required, but it may be compelling to show that there is actual confusion.

The junior user’s intent in adopting the mark

Did the junior user adopt his or her mark with good intentions because he or she really felt it was the right name for the band, or did he or she do it purposely to try and ride the coattails of the other band’s fame or to purposely confuse consumers? Trying to profit off of another band or brand’s established mark will not work in the junior user’s favor.

Sophistication of the buyers/degree of care likely to be exercised by the consumer

This looks at how much care a consumer will take before making the decision to purchase the goods or services. For example, someone buying a $2 million airplane would probably put a lot more care into his decision than someone buying a bag of potato chips. A court will look at how much care fans will take in selecting purchases from a band.

 

These are some of the basic principles to consider so your band name doesn’t conflict with another band or brand name, or if you feel that someone may be infringing on your trademark. All trademark registrations should be handled by an experienced attorney or a service like Indie Artist Resource. All potential or actual trademark infringement suits should be handled by an experienced litigator.

This article was previously published on Sonicbids.com.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. This article does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not rely on, act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.

If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity.

 

 

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Speaking at the 2015 TAXI Music Road Rally

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Categories: Clients, Interview, Law, Legal Issues, Music, Music Industry, Music Industry Interviews, Speaking, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On November 7, 2015, I spoke at the TAXI Music Road Rally on music library contracts.

I began the session by explaining the most important and common deal points in music library contracts, and then discussed specific contract clauses and wrapped up by answering questions from the audience.

Many songwriters and composers came up to me after the session to tell me how helpful the session was for them.  I am so grateful I was able to be of service to them!

Here are a couple photos from the event:

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How Do You Prove That Someone Stole Your Song?

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Categories: Articles, Copyright, Infringement, Law, Legal Disputes, Legal Issues, Music, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

copyrightAllrightsreserved620

Image via hivesociety.com

A lot of musicians email me claiming they have great cases for copyright infringement. Copyright infringement does happen, but there are more people who think they have a case than those who actually do. (Please note that I am not a litigator and the below explanation is only a general overview of the basic principles in a copyright infringement suit. Actual cases may include nuances not discussed in this article.)

In order to sue for copyright infringement, you must have your work’s copyright registered with the United States Copyright Office. You can register your works yourself (the online registration fee is about $35), but I recommend an attorney like me or a service like Indie Artist Resource to file the registration for you, as some of the questions and principles covered in the application can be confusing.

Keep in mind that under copyright law, two similar works can be created independently of each other without infringement. For example, two independent musicians on opposite sides of the country could create original and copyrightable songs that sound very similar to each other, without knowing each other or ever hearing each other’s music. After all, there are only so many notes and chords that can be played.

However, if you do feel someone has actually infringed your music, you will have to prove that you have a valid copyright and your work was sufficiently original to warrant the validity of that copyright. Next, you will have to show that the alleged infringer copied your work. The analysis for infringement involves examining these three areas:

1. Direct copying
Here, you would have to show that the accused infringer directly copied the first work when creating his subsequent work. There is often no way to show direct copying, so the courts will instead look at the next two areas described below.

2. Access
When direct copying cannot be proven, courts will often infer that copying occurred if it is shown that the accused infringer had access to the allegedly infringed composition. This can be proven by showing that someone had direct access to your work, such as if you gave a copy of the song directly to the alleged infringer, or gave it to someone who had access to that person, like a producer or label executive.

Access can also be shown if the prior work is widely disseminated, such as a famous hit played on the radio and well known by the public. Here’s an example of how access was surprisingly proven in a real case: In Bright Tunes Music Corp. v. Harrisongs Music, Ltd.,[1] George Harrison’s song “My Sweet Lord” was deemed to infringe on the song “He’s So Fine” recorded by The Chiffons in 1962.[2] The court didn’t require actual proof that Harrison had heard “He’s So Fine” before; it relied on the fact that “He’s So Fine” had the top position on the Billboard charts in the U.S. for five weeks and hit No. 12 in England in 1963[3] – coincidentally at the same time The Beatles were becoming famous.[4]

The court concluded that Harrison unconsciously plagiarized “He’s So Fine” when he composed “My Sweet Lord” because “his subconscious knew [the musical combination of notes] had worked in a song his conscious mind did not remember.”[5] The court went on to further conclude that it did not believe Harrison deliberately copied the song,[6] but ruled against him anyway because access to “He’s So Fine” was assumed due to its fame and the two songs had enough similarities to satisfy the court.[7]

Therefore, if you have written a song, but it is not well known by others and you have not given it to someone where you can show a direct connection to the person who supposedly copied your song, you don’t have a case. It’s not enough to write and record a song that only a small number of people have heard, and then try to file a lawsuit when something shows up on the radio that you think sounds similar, when in reality you have no proof to show the other person even knew of your song.

3. Substantial similarity
The third analysis looks at the similarities, if any, between the two songs. If the degree of access to the first song is high, the amount of proof required to show similarity between the two songs will be lower than if there was not easy access to the first song.

Here, a court will look objectively at which parts of the first song were allegedly copied, such as the melody, lyrics, etc. A court will also look at the subjective opinion of lay listeners, which is basically whether the average person would think the two songs sounded the same or similar enough when listening to them both.

This point in the analysis is where many people argue that it is supposedly acceptable to copy three notes of an existing composition or sample three seconds or less of an existing recording without infringing copyright. In fact, there are no such rules allowing this practice. Infringement is infringement.

If you have looked at the facts and can truly show that someone has either directly copied your song or has had access to your song, and their song is very similar to yours, then you will need to contact an entertainment/copyright litigator to discuss the potential merits of your case. Keep in mind that these lawyers do expect to get paid for their services, although there are a few who may be willing to take important cases on a contingency. Check with the lawyer on his or her practices.

Footnotes:
[1] Bright Tunes Music Corp. v. Harrisongs Music, Ltd., 420 F. Supp. 177 (1976).
[2] Id.
[3] Id. at 179.
[4] Id.
[5] Id. at 180.
[6] Id. at 181.
[7] Id.

This post was originally published at Sonicbids.com.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. This article does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.

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Musicians: If You Haven’t Registered With These 4 Services, You’re Missing Out on Your Money

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Categories: Music Industry, Royalties, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There are several potential musician income streams that you’ll unfortunately never see if you don’t set yourself up to collect them. More established musicians have the same responsibility, but often have representatives taking care of these procedures for them, whereas independent musicians have to oversee royalty collection themselves. This means that many independent musicians are losing out on money they could otherwise be collecting because they either fail to register their songs properly, or they haven’t registered at all with the appropriate agencies that collect and pay out these royalties.

Are you properly registered with these four services? If not, you’re probably missing out on money you deserve!

Note: This article only focuses on royalty streams within the United States. It does not discuss international royalty streams.

1. Performing rights organizations

Performing rights organizations (PROs) collect performance royalties, which are royalties paid when musical compositions (not sound recordings) are played on terrestrial radio, digital radio, streamed online, heard on television, played in a live performance, or played in a public place like a bar or restaurant. If you aren’t registered properly or at all with a PRO, you won’t be getting paid for any of these uses of your music.

The three performance rights organizations in the United States are ASCAPBMI, and SESAC. ASCAP and BMI allow any songwriter to join, whereas SESAC requires a songwriter to be invited to join.

Songwriters need to register in three ways for a complete registration: as a writer, as a publisher, and for the individual compositions. Before elaborating on the necessities of registration, it’s important to note that performance royalties owed for a particular person’s contribution to a composition are split 50/50 between the writer and the publisher, known as the “writer’s share” and the “publisher’s share” respectively.

  • Writer: Every songwriter needs to register as a writer with a PRO in order to get paid the “writer’s share” of performance royalties, which is paid directly to the writer from the PRO. Writers can only register with one PRO at a time (not all three), although if you aren’t happy with your chosen PRO, there’s usually an opportunity to change your affiliation at a later date.
  • Publisher: If you aren’t signed with a music publisher, then you’re actually your own publisher, and you need to also register as such with the same performance rights organization to which you are registered as a writer in order to get paid the “publisher’s share” of performance royalties, which is paid by the PRO to the publisher of the composition. If you’re a songwriter who’s already signed with a publisher, you may not need to register as a publisher depending on your type of publishing deal.
  • Individual compositions: You have to register each individual composition that you write with your PRO. If you don’t register your compositions, your PRO will not pay performance royalties on those compositions because those compositions won’t be in the PRO’s database, and the PRO won’t know who’s supposed to be paid for those compositions.

2. SoundExchange

When it comes to copyrights and the practice of the music business, sound recordings are treated separately from musical compositions. In the United States, there’s currently only a performance royalty for sound recordings for digital performances, which are for uses like satellite radio and internet streaming. Registering for SoundExchange is free and will make sure you are receiving royalties when your recordings are streamed or otherwise digitally performed. As with compositions, it’s imperative that you register your individual sound recordings so that the recordings and the payment designee can both be recognized.

3. Harry Fox Agency

The Harry Fox Agency collects mechanical royalties, which are the royalties paid from the owner of the sound recording to the owner of the composition for the privilege of reproducing the composition onto the master recording. For physical CD sales and digital downloads, this is a statutory rate (i.e., set by the government) and is currently set at 9.1 cents for compositions lasting five minutes or less. There are also mechanical royalties paid for various online interactive streaming and subscription service uses (think Spotify) as well as mechanicals for ringtones, and the rates for these uses depend on the type of use.

If you’re a self-released artist who doesn’t write with anyone else, you’ll essentially be paying sales and download mechanical royalties to yourself, but it’s still important to register with Harry Fox to collect the other mechanical payments. If you have a relationship with a label or anyone else releasing your music (including co-writers where a song you contributed to as a writer appears on other artists’ albums), registration is important to collect all mechanical payments. If you don’t register and you aren’t diligent about collecting your mechanical royalties yourself, you’ll be missing out on income that could add up over time.

4. YouTube

The YouTube revenue system is slightly complicated, but it basically comes down to monetizing your videos by allowing YouTube to show ads before your video starts, and then you share in the revenue generated from those ads. The more views you get, the more the ad is seen, and the more money you make. For most people, the amount earned here might be minimal, but like finding change in the couch cushions, every little bit helps.

 

If you need assistance with signing up for these services, contact a music lawyer or use a service like Indie Artist Resource. Signing up for these services is the basic start to getting your music career set up correctly. Don’t lose easy money — it could pay back big time down the road.

 

Do you have questions that you’d like to get answered in an upcoming “Ask a Music Lawyer” article? Please send topic requests to askamusiclawyer@gmail.com. Please note that specific case advice cannot be given, and if you have questions pertaining to an issue you are personally experiencing, you should seek a consultation with a music attorney.

 

Erin M. Jacobson is a practicing music attorney, experienced deal negotiator, and seasoned advisor of intellectual property rights. Her clients range from Grammy and Emmy Award winners to independent artists, record labels, music publishers, and production companies. Ms. Jacobson also owns and oversees all operations for Indie Artist Resource, the independent musician’s resource for legal and business protection offering template contracts, consultations, and other services designed to meet the unique needs of independent musicians.

Originally published on Sonicbids.com.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. This article does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.

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Do You Need a Music Publisher?

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Categories: Articles, Business, Music Industry, Music Publishing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Some musicians have music publishing deals, some musicians have their own publishing companies, and some have both. For many independent musicians, owning their own publishing companies often means nothing more than just having name for publishing matters rather than a fully functioning entity. Musicians often ask me the difference between handling their publishing themselves and what a music publisher will do for them.

1. Manage your catalog

A publisher will handle all copyright registrations, filings with performing rights organizations and mechanical rights collection societies, and other more procedural aspects of owning intellectual property. A publisher will also receive any license requests to use your music and handle the contracts associated with these uses, negotiating the best price they can, which makes sense because they get to take a cut of the proceeds. A publisher will also fight against any unwarranted uses of your music, including suing for infringement if necessary. Again, this is because the publisher usually has a stake in the copyright ownership and income generated from your compositions. A publisher will also have relationships with foreign companies and can enter into agreements so that your music can be promoted and administered in those countries, thus creating more opportunities for you and expanding your fanbase.

2. Promote your catalog

A good publisher that believes in you and stands to profit from your music will find ways to promote it and help you (and them) make more money. This will usually include pitching your music for use in TV and film, pitching your music to other artists in order to get those artists to record your compositions, arranging for sheet music or other reprints of your music for sale, and any other opportunities to promote your compositions and get them recorded.

3. Pair you with co-writers

Some writers mostly write alone, some only write with others, and some may write alone and with others. Sometimes, writing with other people can help a songwriter break into a new genre or get new creative juices flowing when the two writers can vibe on each other’s energy. A publisher will help to facilitate these relationships, as the more great songs its writer writes, the more everyone stands to benefit. Also, if you are a promising writer who has a deal but are still building your resume, your publisher may be able to pair you up with more seasoned writers to help advance your career.

4. Collect income

From a logistical standpoint, this is one of the most important functions of the publisher because an experienced publisher understands all the different revenue streams in the business, how to collect these revenues, and how and what you should be paid. A publisher can also pursue monies you should be receiving but haven’t, and audit your label or other companies with which you’ve collaborated to make sure you are getting paid correctly. In addition, if you are to pay any co-writers or other collaborators, your publisher can take care of this for you so that you don’t have to worry about understanding the complexities of the royalty streams and who gets paid what, as well as dealing with the minutiae of the task, leaving you more time to focus on creating great music.

 

In my opinion, the functions of the publisher can be grouped into two very important areas: promoting your music and taking care of the business end (registrations, contracts, and royalty collection and payment). Both of these aspects are helpful to you and allow you to focus your time on creating music instead of promoting or bookkeeping. A publisher’s relationships and connections can be key to moving your career forward, and any reputable publisher will have administrative systems already established so that the business side runs smoothly. However,most music publishing deals require you to give up all or a portion of your copyright ownership, and all publishing deals will require a percentage of your publishing income as payment for their services. For independent songwriters without a publishing deal or who want to retain full ownership of their compositions, the next best option is to hire a great music lawyer to handle the business part of the equation, but the promotional aspects will still be up to the songwriter. Only you can decide whether these trade-offs are right for your career, or if retaining full ownership and spending more of your time on business work makes you more comfortable.

 

This post was originally published on Sonicbids.com.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. This article does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.

 

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How to Get Legal Help if You Can’t Afford a Music Attorney

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Categories: Business, Law, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hopefully you’ve read my most recent article where I explained how to choose the right attorney for you. Even though you now know what qualities to look for in an attorney, you may still wonder whether hiring one is possible if you are on a tight budget. As I discussed last time, don’t try to handle the matter yourself, and having a non-music or non-entertainment lawyer handle your matter is less than ideal because only a lawyer experienced in music and entertainment will know the specific nuances that pertain to your situation. While the best solution is still to hire an experienced music attorney to handle your situation, here are three less costly options for independent musicians to get their legal needs met.

1. Ask the lawyer you want to work with if there’s any flexibility on payment policies

After finding out the lawyer’s customary rate, you can ask if he or she can do the work on a flat-fee basis, has discounted rates for independent musicians, or has a payment plan where you can pay the fee in installments.

You can also ask if the attorney would be willing to work on a percentage basis, but know that many attorneys will only work on percentage for high net worth clients. Don’t expect the attorney to work for free or try to sell him or her on the premise that the attorney will somehow make a lot of money once you’re famous. The music industry is a speculative business, and a new client without a proven track record will often not produce a return on a lawyer’s investment of time and skill.

If your matter involves a lawsuit (most often for copyright infringement or breach of contract), you can ask the attorney if he or she works on a “contingency,” meaning that the attorney doesn’t get paid unless he or she wins your case. There are some lawyers who still work on contingency, but most don’t. Keep in mind that even if an attorney does work on contingency, you will most likely still have to pay court filing costs, which can be expensive on their own.

2. Use a reputable online legal resource

Usually, I advise non-lawyers to proceed with extreme caution when downloading or using templates from the internet because these templates are often poor quality and usually not designed for independent musicians. Plus, drafting changes to template agreements without proper legal training can often lead to unforeseen consequences that could be detrimental to your income, copyright ownership, and career.

Here is the exception: in my dealings with many independent musicians, I saw that many musicians needed but didn’t have access to resources to meet their legal needs due to cost or other prohibitions preventing them from hiring an attorney. Therefore, I started Indie Artist Resource (currently only available for California residents) to offer template contracts, intellectual property registration services, and legal consultations all specifically designed to address the unique needs of independent musicians.

Despite the varying quality of most online templates, I’m confident in recommending the templates and services from Indie Artist Resource, as I have personally developed all of the templates with the needs of independent musicians in mind, and I oversee all operations of the business, including handling the consultations. While the nature of template agreements means that a template isn’t tailored to each individual user’s specific needs, some protection is better than no protection – and I’d rather see a musician using a well-drafted template than proceeding without any agreement in place.

3. Contact a legal clinic for the arts

There are some nonprofit organizations that offer free or low-cost legal services to musicians. You can research online whether your state has such an organization and contact the organization to see if what they offer meets your legal needs. Some of the lawyers at these organizations are very competent attorneys who service high-level clients and enjoy volunteering their time to help independent musicians. Of course, others are newly licensed and may or may not be reputable. I cannot comment on the caliber of service you will be getting because it depends on which state you are in, the quality of the organization, and the attorney handling your case. However, if you want to work with someone on an ongoing basis throughout your matter and you can’t afford regular attorney’s fees, then this might be a good option for you to investigate.

 

Erin M. Jacobson is a practicing music attorney, experienced deal negotiator, and seasoned advisor of intellectual property rights. Her clients range from Grammy and Emmy Award winners to independent artists, record labels, music publishers, and production companies. Ms. Jacobson also owns and oversees all operations for Indie Artist Resource, the independent musician’s resource for legal and business protection offering template contracts, consultations, and other services designed to meet the unique needs of independent musicians.

This post first appeared on Sonicbids.com.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. This article does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.

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How Much Do Artists Really Earn Online?

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ever wonder how much artists really earn from those millions of streams on Spotify?  Ever wonder how much you as an independent artist need to sell or stream in order to make a living off of your music?  Wonder no more:

IIB_Musicians_2015_final

This lovely graphic and data is from Information is Beautiful.  For more information on the numbers, visit the findings.

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