What is a Music Lawyer and What Do They Do?
When asked what a music lawyer does, the initial answer is reviewing and preparing music law agreements or contracts for creators. That’s just the beginning of what a music lawyer can do for your music business.
As music lawyers, our team strives to be an important member of your music team. Our music lawyers are a valuable source of information, providing legal and strategic advice based on their entertainment industry expertise.
We help with an artist’s career by ensuring that you collect the money you’ve earned, and help you leverage your (intellectual property) rights to maximize your income. We advise entertainment law clients across the music industry, including musicians, music producers, music publishing companies, beatmakers, composers, singers, managers, record label companies, live music festivals, venues, and music services companies.
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30 Things Music Lawyers Do
Artists and Performers
If you do live performances and record music – whether you are a songwriter, or someone is writing for you – here is a list of thirty things a music lawyer (or entertainment lawyer) can do for you:
1. Review and prepare agreements for major deals with creative collaborators, from co-writers to producers.
2. Review and negotiate distribution agreements, from an indie label to an American major label.
3. Assist you in delivering legal obligations to record labels.
4. Review publishing administration and co-publishing agreements.
5. Prepare band agreements (help negotiate the deal and get the responsible parties to sign).
6. Help you deal with musicians leaving your band, whether parties are amicable or not.
7. Review music industry production agreements.
8. Review management agreements and help you strategize your professional relationship with your manager or management company.
9. Provide advice if your relationship with your manager is going south, including by potentially negotiating, preparing and/or reviewing a management termination settlement agreement.
10. Prepare performance agreements for venues to sign when engaging you to perform live music.
11. Help to you to access royalty statements if you’re not receiving them according to your contractual entitlements, and to review royalty statements to ensure you are being paid properly.
12. Review and prepare featured artist agreements, whether you are the featured artist or engaging the featured artist.
13. Review and help negotiate offers and agreements to sell parts of your music catalogue (songs, albums, and other media).
14. Help keep you protected against accusations of music theft and help if someone allegedly stole your music.
15. Prepare agreements with a partner, such as graphic designers, producing album artwork and other graphics or media.
16. Help you understand contracts to buy and lease beats from websites.
17. Prepare P2 visa applications for artists performing in the United States.
18. Review agreements to compose orchestral music.
19. Negotiate singing contest (and other kinds of contests) agreements.
20. Review agreements to perform music on television.
21. Review agreements to have music synchronized in a film, television show, advertisement or digital media site.
22. Help musicians and songwriters to get samples cleared and music interpolations approved.
23. Provide corporate services, including, setting up a corporation, providing advice with respect to share classes, drafting a shareholders’ agreement, drafting annual resolutions, and documenting when business partners join and leave the corporation.
24. Work with your business manager and/or accountant to ensure everyone is on the same page about finances and is planning for successful careers.
25. Provide advice about whether songs are protected by copyright or are in the public domain, for example if you are interested to adapt, arrange, remix or sample a public domain work.
26. Review influencer and endorsement deals to promote a product or service (ie: brand partnerships).
27. Provide advice about service providers, from grant writers to trademark lawyers.
28. Assist with litigation – either to sue or defend a claim.
29. Answer questions about copyright (intellectual property).
30. Help to ensure you are properly registered to earn all neighbouring rights royalties.
Music Industry Labels and Other Music Entertainment Businesses
As music lawyers, our law firm works with artists across Canada in hip hop, pop, folk, rock, country, blues, and other musical genres. Our entertainment lawyers provide our clients with legal and strategic advice regarding contracts and professional relationships with business partners around the globe.
In addition to artists, we work with other players across the music industry as well. Here is a sample of the music law services we provide to our clients:
Producers: A music lawyer can help prepare and review producer agreements, and publishing deals.
Beat Makers: We help navigate buyout and royalty agreements with artists who want to use their beats, whether a so-called “brain trust” producer agreement or another form of agreement.
Managers: We prepare management agreements, and oftentimes help with their clients’ legal needs.
Music Investors: We prepare agreements for investors looking to invest in artists, music events and other music industry businesses.
Music Service Providers: Our law firm prepares agreements for their clients to sign, which highlights matters from scope to compensation.
Record Labels: We prepare artist agreements, provide advice in dealing with other labels and distributors (major label or not), negotiate agreements with digital media service providers and aggregators, and help find sources of passive rights-based income.
Music Publishers: A music lawyer can prepare agreements for their writer and producer clients.
Music Festivals: From sponsorship agreements to employment agreements, we work with festivals to assist with their music law needs.
Venues: We prepare agreements between venues and artists, both for fixed fee and royalty sharing deals.
Any music lawyer is most effective when speaking regularly with their client and their client’s agents or music team, listening to them, understanding their interests and providing solutions.
Lawyers may not be magicians, but there are many ways we can help. We don’t time-travel (yet), so it’s best to get our input up front to avoid headaches down the road. We look forward to speaking with you about how we can help your music business and career.
© 2023 Edwards Creative Law, LLP – Updated to March 17, 2023
Edwards Creative Law is Canada’s Entertainment Law Boutique™, providing legal services to Canadians, and international clients who partner with Canadians, in the Film & Television, Music, Video Games and Apps, Publishing and Literary industries.
For more information or to set up a minute Discovery Call with one of our entertainment lawyers please feel free to Contact Us.
* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.
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