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What You Need to Know About Shopping

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Categories: Articles, Business, Music Contracts, Music Industry, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

By: Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

Erin Jacobson music attorney record deals recording contract

A common and long-standing frustration amongst musicians is getting their music heard. Most companies do not accept unsolicited material and require any submissions to be through an artist representative they know and trust. Companies do this to try to protect themselves from claims of copyright infringement based on one of their releases sounding too close to something submitted to them by someone they don’t know.

Because of the “no unsolicited material accepted” policy, artists need someone to shop the music for them. However, an artist must also determine the right type of person to shop their music and whether that person actually shops artists.

The types of people companies will usually accept material from are agents, managers, and attorneys. Some companies will be even more restrictive and only accept from agents and attorneys.

How do you get someone to shop your music for you? It’s great if you already have a relationship with a connected person willing to shop you. If not, you will have to contact representatives to see if they are willing to shop you.   In the case of attorneys, some will shop artists while others will not. Within that designation, some attorneys will shop only certain artist that they believe in, while others will shop anyone that pays them to do so.

Companies know the difference between a trusted colleague shopping an artist because that person really believes in the artist’s potential and those recommending an artist because they received a fee to do so.

In many cases the better approach is to try to make the connections and relationships with label employees and artist representatives yourself. If the company still requires an attorney or agent to submit your work, you can get one to do so on a formality.

If you are going to submit your music, it should be recorded to the best quality you can afford and not sound like demos you made in your bedroom.  Your packaging and your EPK must be up-to-date and professional. It may serve you well to have a professional in the industry create or review your submission package before you start sending it out, as labels and other music companies want your package as finished as possible so they don’t have to guess as to whether your rough demo and selfies would translate to a professional product. Your photos should be professionally shot and in high-quality resolution. Put your best songs first and make sure they have strong hooks that catch the listener quickly because most executives will only listen to the first 30 seconds of each song. If you are e-mailing your material, make sure that you’re music is available on a link and you do not send large files to people’s inboxes.

Remember to ask the representative’s policy on shopping and do not bother them with shopping requests if you know they do not shop. Some attorneys, like myself, post their shopping policies on their website,* so be sure to read and follow instructions. Good luck!


* Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. does not offer shopping services to artists.


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.



Contract Language Explained: “In all media now known or hereafter devised”

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Categories: Business, Digital Distribution, Law, Music, Music Contracts, Music Industry, Music Publishing, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By:  Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

music-791631_640It’s possible that you have seen or heard of the contract phrase “in all media now known or hereafter devised” or some similar variation.

In music contracts, this language is usually used to define in what media your music can be used.  This phrase allows a company that has the rights to your music to use the music in the formats currently used at the time the contract is signed, as well as any new formats that are invented in the future (and may or may not be known at the time of signing).

For example, pretend that this is 1995, the most popular music format is still CDs, and MP3s had not hit the scene yet.  If you signed a deal at that time that said the company had rights to your music “in all media now known or hereafter devised,” then that company also had the rights to start reproducing and distributing your music in MP3 format once that medium started being used circa 1998.

If you are signing a deal now with that language, the company can probably use your music on vinyl, cassette, CD, MP3/other digital file formats, and whatever they think of next.  So when they start implanting microchips with music, you can bet your music will probably be on that too.

Got questions on your contract?  Schedule a consultation now to get answers!


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 mattersThis 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.


Everything You Need to Know About Using Album Artwork


Categories: Articles, Business, Copyright, Music, Music Industry, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Image via

Artists seem to have a lot of confusion as to what artwork can and cannot be used on album covers and also who owns album artwork. In this article, I will cover the most common sources of album artwork and how that artwork is owned.

For the sake of convenience, I will refer to both artwork and photographs as the “work” or “works,” as the principles discussed herein apply to both.

1.  You created the work.

In this case you would likely create a piece of art and or take a photograph that you use on the album cover.  Absent any unusual circumstances, you should own and have the rights to use artwork you created or photographs you took.  If you are part of a band, it gets a little more complicated because one must note which member of the band created the work and what the agreement is within the band as to how the work will be owned.  A particular band member may retain ownership of the work as an individual and license the rights to the work to the band, or may assign ownership of the work to the band so that the band owns the rights.  If more than one member of the band created the work, they may be able to sign a simple Artwork Ownership Agreement, but again, it still needs to be determined whether those members will retain ownership of the work or assign ownership to the bands as an entity.  A band owning the work created by a single member or multiple members may be determined on a case-by-case basis or it might be based on a band agreement.

2.  Someone else created the work for you.

Usually this scenario plays out in one of two ways: either someone is hired by you or your band to create artwork for your album, or you hire a photographer to take photos of you or your band and then use the photograph(s) on the album.

Paying for something does not equate to ownership of it under copyright law. You may own a physical copy of the work – a photo print, a painting, a CD – but that does not automatically give you ownership rights in the copyright of the work itself.  If you have hired and paid an artist or photographer to create a visual image for your album cover, that artist or photographer will still own the copyright in the work unless that creator has assigned the copyright ownership of the work to you or your band.   The assignment of copyright will often include a higher fee and/or a payment of future royalties in exchange for the creator giving up his or her intellectual property rights.

If there was no transfer of copyright and the artist or photographer retains ownership of the work, you would need to get a license from the creator to use the work for your album cover, as well as for promotional and other uses associated with the album.  Again, this usually will involve a fee and/or possibly a royalty payment. Keep in mind that if the creator retains ownership, (s)he will be able to use or license the work for other purposes besides your album cover.  An example of this would be the creator giving a magazine permission to use a photograph of your band that the creator photographed.

Whether working with a photographer or artist, you should get the terms of the agreement in writing.  If the creator has given you a contract to sign, it would be wise to have a good music lawyer make sure the proper rights for uses related to album covers are granted in the language.   If not, these rights will need to be added.  If the creator retains copyright ownership, your lawyer may also be able to limit other uses granted by the creator. If the creator does not give you a contract, you should have your lawyer draft a contract so that the terms that are spelled out clearly.

3.  You got the work from the Internet or another source.

If you purchased a stock photo on the Internet, you will need to check the license provisions that come with that photo. Some photos do not allow for commercial uses, while others do allow for commercial uses, and yet others allow for commercial uses but with higher fees required.  You will have to choose a photo that allows for the rights that you will need for using the photo on your album cover and associated promotional uses. Using a photo that you like from the Internet without getting permission to use it is copyright infringement, even if you credit the source.

If there is a work that you like on the Internet that is not from a stock photo website or that you find offline, you will need to find out the identity of the owner of the work and contact that person to get a license for permission to use that work on your album cover.  Transfer of copyright ownership is probably a long shot in this scenario, but some creators might be willing to transfer ownership for the right price.

Again, consult with a good music attorney to make sure you are getting the rights you need for your specific situation.

Do you have questions that you’d like to get answered in an upcoming “Ask a Music Lawyer” article? Please send topic requests to 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.

This post was originally published on

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.



Warner Music Group Submits Class Action Settlement For Digital Royalties Suit

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Categories: Legal Disputes, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Record Labels, Royalties, Tags: , , , ,

“The Warner Music Group has submitted a settlement to the class action lawsuit filed by artists who claimed they were entitled to be paid on a licensing bases instead of a royalty bases for download and mastertones.” Read the full article at Billboard.


Rare Beatles Tracks Will Be Released to Preserve Copyrights

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Categories: Copyright, Music, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Apple Records will release rare Beatles recordings, including studio outtakes and live tracks, in order to preserve copyright under the European Union’s copyright law.  Read the full story at the NY Daily News.


Why the CD is Still Important

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Categories: Music Industry, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , ,

Forbes recently reported three main reasons why the CD is still important.

image by Ulf Hinze, Hannover, Germany feel free to use it for anything!1.  Last year, there were at least 211 million CD sales in the US yielding at least $2.5 billion in revenue.  I say “at least” because these numbers were taken from official RIAA data and didn’t include independent musician sales at shows and on websites, including other sales not tracked by SoundScan.  Not too shabby.

2.  There are still people that would rather buy a CD, especially those in country and hard rock markets.

3.  Reviewers (even blog reviewers) still want CD submissions rather than digital.  Plus, now there are services where you can press CDs as needed rather than having to place large orders upfront; a more economical system for independent musicians.

The CD may be old, but it isn’t dead yet.


5 Music Companies That Will Disappear Within 5 Years

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Categories: Business, Digital Distribution, Music Industry, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paul Reskinoff predicts that Pandora, one major label, Spotify, Live Nation, and MySpace will all be just a memory within the next five years.  Why?  According to Reskinoff, Pandora does not have a sustainable business model and its founder Tim Westergren has been liquidating his available shares.  The major label model continues to crumble in the digital age; Spotify and Live Nation have been continually losing money, and MySpace has lost its relevance.  Keep a watch on these companies to see if Reskinoff’s predictions become realities.


U.K. Extends Copyright Protection for Sound Recordings

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Categories: Copyright, Music Industry, Music Industry Interviews, Record Labels, Tags: , , , ,

Billboard reports the U.K. has extended its copyright provisions for sound recordings, changing the term of protection from 50 to 70 years.  This twenty year extension will benefit performing artists, and of course, record labels.  The extension applies only to recordings, not to compositions, but still must offer a great relief for many legacy acts and rights holders that were losing or about to lose recording rights.


Artists Fed Up With Low Streaming Royalties — Threaten to Sue Labels


Categories: Digital Distribution, Music Industry, Music Publishing, Record Labels, Royalties

International music artists are fed up with low streaming royalty payments, and fed up with the labels getting a bigger cut of those royalties than the artists receive.  Warner and Universal Music are now facing possible lawsuits from artists unless they agree to increase the artists’ share of those royalties.  While The Guardian cites example figures in British pounds, today’s currency conversion rates show that while the artist could make roughly $800 on 1 million Spotify streams, the label would make over $7,000 for those same streams.  To further complicate things, some artists’ contracts pre-date the online wave and those artists’ royalty shares fall under the old model when online streams were not contemplated.  In addition, music publishers are joining the fight to complain they are not paid as much as labels from the digital streaming services.  (Source:  The Guardian — “Spotify row:  artists threaten to sue labels over music streaming)

Due to the speed of technology, many of the artists’ contracts are outdated in their terms even though the contracts themselves are still governing the relationships between artists and labels.  In this digital age, it is important for artist lawyers to attempt renegotiation of these older agreements to ensure artists are sharing fairly in the income from these new technologies and services.  The problem is that many labels may not be willing to renegotiate royalty terms.   In addition, major label contract terms often lag behind the times even for newly-signed deals, so it is important for the artist representative to stay current on industry trends and know which terms to update in deal negotiations.  Major labels have notoriously been somewhat behind the times in relation to many online and technological developments, and my prediction is that they will not be so willing to renegotiate a large number of contracts.  Sure, they might change terms for some of their most important (i.e. financially successful) artists, but I doubt they would do a long list of renegotiations without an influx of lawsuits — or at least the threat of them.

Technology definitely has a way of keeping the litigators busy…

© 2013 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, please provide a link to or a direct link to the post for others to read it.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.


Interview with Carl Caprioglio of The Oglio Entertainment Group, Inc.

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Categories: Business, Crowd Funding, Management, Music, Music Industry, Music Industry Interviews, Record Labels, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today’s interview is with Carl Caprioglio of The Oglio Entertainment Group, Inc., a great independent record label that is a lot more than just a record label.

Oglio 20th Anniversary LogoNow in its 20th year, Oglio achieved worldwide recognition as a successful niche marketer of entertainment products. Oglio releases have received acclaim and significant sales success including a Billboard Top 50 hit benefiting the Make A Wish Foundation, and projects with Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), Cyndi Lauper, Robby Krieger (Doors), Ray Manzarek (Doors), Nerf Herder, Parry Gripp, Kool Keith, Ultramagnetic MCs, Rob Schneider, Jackie Martling (Howard Stern Show), Andy Dick, Craig Gass, and George Lopez. Oglio’s growth has been significant enough to earn a position on Inc. Magazine’s 1998 listing of the 500 fastest growing companies in America. In 2013, Oglio extended into the management space with the launch of “Manage It Comedy” – a service designed to help the working comic manage their business. Manage It Comedy helps comedians release their merchandise to market, build a web presence and use social media to market themselves.

1.     Describe a typical day at the office.

One of the great things about being in the entertainment business is that there is not typical day. That said, I do have a bit of a routine that starts with attacking my email in box and checking all the regular social media sites for my artists’ activities. Once I have a handle on the mayhem that has ensued since the last time I checked those places, I write up my daily priorities on one of my office white boards and get to work. My office is in Torrance, a bit of a drive from the media centers of Los Angeles, so I try to set up a lunch meeting or two each week. My workday ends with more email and project development from home after dinner.

2.     What is your favorite part of your job?

To quote the great Hannibal Smith from the A-Team – “I love it when a plan comes together.” Whether it is a record that goes from concept to release or a licensing deal or a new direction for my business, the most satisfying part of my job is that feeling of that success when it comes to fruition. It really isn’t tied to money (although that helps) but it is more about that great rush of satisfaction.

3.     What are some projects that you are currently working on that you can discuss?  

On the record side we have two new releases – one from the metal bash-up band Beatallica that combines the sounds of Metallica and The Beatles and the other from comedian Craig Gass of Howard Stern Show fame. They are wildly different projects but both are personal favorites.

Recently my attention has been moving toward artist management. Over the years a few of the artists on my label have asked me about managing them, but I liked the label side and didn’t pursue it at the time. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the interaction with the artists and bringing that interaction to another level seems like a natural move. I can provide the bigger picture help they need and still handle the label side if needed. It seems like a logical move and I use much of the same skillset that have developed over the last 20 years in business.

4.     What do you think are the most important issues facing labels and artists at this time?

Top of the list has to be the idea that music should be free and that both artists and labels can make up the income by selling t-shirts or touring. As a label owner and a friend to artists, I’ve had many discussions about how “fans” find a justification for stealing music. Despite the perception that labels and artists were caught off guard, we could see this train coming, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do much about it. For me I simply underestimated people’s willingness to steal and the ease of which they justify their actions.

5.     What do you think is the most profitable area of the music industry for independent artists today?

For your typical independent artist, I’m going to go with the new broad definition of “merch.” Merch (short for “merchandise”) now encompasses music, t-shirts, hats, hoodies, iPhone cases, tote bags, jewelry, USB drives and anything else you can put on your merch table or sell on your website. At one time the music part of the merch table was controlled by the labels but now that control is back with the artist in most cases. My favorite merch items are USB drives in fun shapes that artists can load up with not only their music but also videos, art and even a recording of the show from that very night. One of my artists, MC Lars, sells a small metal USB robot loaded with the music, videos and art from his album “This Gigantic Robot Kills” and it is a best seller for him on the road.

6.     What other avenues are still profitable for artists?

I see PledgeMusic and Kickstarter as great avenues for artists with a fan base that can be mobilized. I have seen PledgeMusic and Kickstarter album campaigns that have raised substantially more than the actual recording costs. The extra revenue goes right into the pockets of the artists and the artists then have the ability to sell their music for 100% profit from the release date forward. This is a very powerful tool available to artists that have a following.

7.     What types of deals are mostly being offered now among the independent labels?

In 1999, Oglio started offering “profit split” deals to artists that brought us recordings ready to be released. At the time it was a very unusual proposal but we felt that the partnership feel made for a more positive and collaborative working relationship. We treated our artists like business associates and we set our plans based on our mutual goals. Those deals worked well for both sides and Oglio was able to work with some legendary artists that would not have normally been interested in an independent label. I see those joint venture deals becoming more and more popular as artists have more control and labels look for ways to mitigate the risk involved in recording costs.

8.     What is an independent label looking for when considering signing a new artist?  Is there any criteria an artist needs to have to even be considered for a deal?

At Oglio it starts with the music. We have to feel strongly about the music itself and also its commercial potential. Every artist feels that their music is fantastic but the point where we often disagree is what we can offer as a label and still make a profit on the project. If the artist doesn’t have a fan base, touring history and traction, it just might be too soon for a label to get involved. We often turn down artists with the suggestion to self release and play live shows while they gain the momentum we would need to get involved.

Thanks so much to Carl for some very insightful comments.  To learn more about Oglio, visit

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