Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Crash Course #2 - Legal Issues

The legal issues panelists were also pretty with it. John Strohm wins extra points for being a Bloomington native, friend of Robert Meitus, fan of WIU(S)X and for having played in a little band you may think is awesome called “The Lemonheads.”

The panel focused more on specific questions rather than overarching principles. They did take time to refer to the nearly biblical entertainment industry reference sources “All You Need to Know About the Music Industry” by Donald Passman and “Music, Money and Success” by the Brabecs. Again the panelists referenced the fact that “the music industry is changing” five times, and noted that “Music, Money and Success” covers many of the new deal arrangements overlooked by old-timers in the industry.

In general, the panelists stressed that lawyers, while viewed as cumbersome to many artists, are the level heads of the music business. They fill the important role of making sure no one gets totally screwed, whether it be the specific terms of a deal, or a partnership agreement among band members. They also were big proponents of charging on an hourly rate in order to ensure legal neutrality.

A strange and mysterious beast within “the changing music industry” is the production deal. These, of course, are mostly relevant to hip-hop artists (and boy bands), and sometimes charge a 50% rate for the development of an artist. While old school lawyers see such deals as unfair, in reality 50% plus your soul is probably a fair price to pay Timbaland for beats. Since often there’s no good way to tell if a producer is Dr. Dre or just some rich athlete, sunset provisions in production deals are the best way to protect an artist. In a sense, a hip-hop production deal is more of a production/management hybrid.

One Sentence Summary: “Lawyers are the designated drivers of the music industry”

“The music industry is changing” tally after day one: 13.

Number of people heard whistling “Young Folks” by Peter, Bjorn and John: 6

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