Knowing when to call a lawyer and when to do it yourself is a tough call for any business owner. But when your business is music, knowing when to get legal help can be a particularly tough call. But calling a lawyer can often make the difference between getting paid, getting credit, or both. Here’s when you need to call a music lawyer:
See a lawyer before signing a contract with anyone. Contracts are generally written in favor of the person who writes them, so consult a music lawyer before signing any contract someone else wrote. And remember – a handshake deal isn’t even worth the paper it’s written on. Get it in writing or it didn’t happen. That includes your band agreement, music publishing and recording contracts, licensing agreements, and management agreements. These contracts govern ownership and distribution of the music you write and perform, and often require you to give up a substantial control over your working life. Get the details right, and life is good. Screw things up by trying to do it yourself, and well, you get the picture.
See a lawyer before you let someone else represent you. Record labels often have their attorney “represent” the artist as well as the label. The same is true for talent agencies, which represent you when they aren’t representing themselves. When a record deal or management agreement is on the line, always have your own music lawyer to handle negotiations.
See a lawyer when someone rips you off. Copyright laws are complex and tricky things. If you suspect someone is using your work without permission or authorization, talk to a lawyer. A music lawyer is in the best position to help you manage your rights in your music.
See a lawyer when you get a demand letter. If you get a letter telling you to cease and desist using a band name, or alleging copyright infringement, or otherwise threatening litigation, call your lawyer immediately. A good music lawyer will help you keep the dispute in the demand letter stage and help you avoid costly litigation whenever possible.
Attorney Davey Jay has more than ten years’ experience in representing artists in the music industry. If you need a music lawyer, give us a call at 407-792-0790.
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