Creative Law Network


Top 5 Instances When A Musician Should Hire a Music Lawyer

Musicians have the unique opportunity to make a career creating great songs but those songs – and the musicians themselves – need to be protected in order to find success. A good music lawyer can help a musician protect his rights and be successful in the long run. At Creative Law Network, we know the ropes and we can help. Here are five reasons why it’s important for a musician to hire a music lawyer:

Forming a Band

When a group of musicians get together to form a band they are usually combining the efforts and talents for the good of the group. But who owns what and in what amount? Does everyone own the songs or only the person(s) who write the songs? What about the recordings? And how are decisions made? What happens if one member leaves the band? Does he continue to be paid for the songs he recorded? All these questions should be answered in advance and in writing so there are no disputes down the road. A music lawyer can help you craft a band agreement to memorialize this vital relationship and plan for future success.

Live Performances

All the details of a live performance should be agreed upon in advance and written down in a performance agreement. Musicians need to be fully aware of what they are obligated to do and what they will receive for their work when they perform. At the very least, the major points must be clear: where to play, how long to play for, who gets paid, and how much. A performance agreement also needs to be clear about what happens if a performance is cancelled. A music lawyer will prepare and/or review a performance agreement to ensure the musicians are protected and the terms are clear.

Signing a contract

Contracts are part of doing business in any industry but music industry contracts can be particularly confusing. Many contracts have a lot of “fine print” and contain confusing legal language that is not easily understood.  A music lawyer should fully explain a contract, answer any questions, and revise the contract in your favor. Signing a bad contract – or just a conract that you don’t completely understand – can cause significant problems in the future.

Protecting intellectual property

The rights in your songs (copyright) and in the name of your band (trademark) are valuable intellectual property. What is intellectual property? Intellectual property includes things that you can own and that have value but aren’t physical items. A musician’s intellectual property is his most valuable asset. It is what will make him money and help him be successful. But intellectual property must be protected.  A good music lawyer will help you protect your intellectual property.

Using Music in Movies, Television and Videos

The use of music in movies, television and videos is a great way for musicians to make money from their work. Music can only be included in a “moving image” with the express, written consent of the owner of that music. So if a TV show wants to use your song in the show, they have to get your permission to do so, in writing. They should also pay you for this right. Your music lawyer should negotiate these deals and prepare the contracts (known as “licenses”) so that it’s very clear what is happening and what you’ll be paid. Be sure to engage a professional that knows the deal so that you get the best deal!

At Creative Law Network, we understand the importance of your work and the need to protect it. Our experienced music lawyer, Dave Ratner, knows how to navigate the legal landscape to help you be successful. Hard working musicians deserve a lawyer who knows the deal and will work hard to make it happen. That’s Creative Law Network. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Dave Ratner