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Working with a Music Attorney


Composers face a broad range of legal issues.They often sign publishing agreements, register various copyrights, make royalties, and face other artists stealing their work.On a managerial level,





composers may need a lawyer just to promote their work, since many record companies strongly prefer receiving demos from attorneys.A good music attorney can help composers with both transactional issues and legislation, playing a valuable role in the business side of writing music.


Services Music Lawyers Provide to Composers


Lawyers assist with regulatory and business issues, such as making sure that every contract and document signed by the composer is properly negotiated.A lawyer can help avoid the pitfalls that often arise in different types of music contracts, such as publishing, recording, and managerial contracts.He or she will also be familiar with the relevant copyright and other laws, and can advise the composer to register appropriate copyrights, negotiate fair royalties, and take other steps to protect the composerís best interests and avoid legal problems.


Another main role of the lawyer is to manage and promote the composer.Managing takes a significant amount of work, from sending out demos to talking with agents to arranging gigs to meeting other songwriters.Furthermore, sometimes a musician will not be taken seriously without a manager, or companies and other groups will require music submittal through an attorney.


An attorney can assist a composer with management by raising the composerís visibility and connecting the composer with others in the business.The attorney can have publishers, record companies, and other artists listen to the composerís work.The attorney can also provide credibility and give the composer an edge, especially if he or she has good contacts and a strong reputation.


Finally, a lawyer can also help deal with breaches of contract or disputes.He or she can uphold the composerís rights and act as a representative in court.If there is a problem with a contract, the attorney can help renegotiate the contract and establish more fair terms.


How to Choose a Music Lawyer


How should a composer go about finding a qualified music attorney?First, obtain recommendations of good attorneys.Places to look include fellow musicians, performance rights organizations, and referrals from people with whom the composer networks.One may also wish to look into the attorneysí backgrounds, such as by contacting the Better Business Bureau or asking for client references.


Next, make sure the attorney specializes in music law.A general lawyer or a lawyer in another field will probably not have the depth of experience needed to deal with the particular problems and issues in music law.He or she should have expertise in music and publishing contracts, intellectual and artistic property, copyrights, and artist management and promotion, as well as having quality contacts and the ability to promote a composerís work.


When meeting with an attorney, the composer should try to find out information in several areas.Who does the attorney usually represent, what kinds of clients does he serve?How much experience does he have and in what issues and laws?What would be the terms of the agreement, such as the length of the term, fee structure, and services provided?


By using these and other criteria to find a reputable music lawyer, a composer can add a valuable player to his or her team in the music business.



Disclaimer: The information in this article does not constitute legal advice and is in no way a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.





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