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7 Reasons Why Any Musician Should Hire a Music Lawyer

They say that music is the food of love and, while that may be the case, it’s also a business. Music is a business in which you can easily be taken advantage of if you don’t protect your work.

Intellectual property, such as music and lyrics should always be ownership protected. In this article, we’ll share seven reasons why you should hire a music lawyer to protect your assets.

Branding

If you are – or are planning to become – a professional musician, whether that’s a solo artist or a band, you’ll almost certainly be creating branding. This can include a name (band name or stage name), logo and more.

A name’s just a name right? Wrong. In the acting world, actors register their name with Equity – and no two actors are allowed to have the same name. However, the same doesn’t apply in the music world.

Having your music lawyer copyright your name and logo, you can make sure that nobody else comes along and uses the same. 

Images

Part and parcel of a musician’s career are photographs and images. From album covers to publicity shots, a musician will have thousands of photographs taken during their career.

In the age of the internet, it’s all too easy for somebody to copy or download your photograph to use for their own means. This could mean that some disreputable online business, for example, a gambling site, could be using photographs of you to promote their operations.

Trademarking images may not prevent this but, it will certainly make it easier to persuade a court to order that the images are removed. 

Lyrics and music

Whenever a song is written, there should be credit and ownership for both the writing of the lyrics and the composing of the music. If the musician is a solo artist who has written the entire song, this is relatively straightforward. However, if there is a collaboration of band members or others, for example, Lennon and McCartney, this becomes considerably more complicated.

With songwriting, it’s essential to have a good music solicitor onboard to ensure that credits and ownership are clearly set out, as this has a direct impact on who will be paid what when it comes to publishing. Publishing in the UK is handled by the PRS who holds the details of all lyric and music ownership. This ensures that musicians get paid for their work and that nobody else is able to claim ownership – or use the work without permission.

Music management

A professional artist or band will almost certainly hire the services of a manager and, while most of these have only the musician’s interests at heart, others are less honest. When hiring a music manager, it’s imperative that you have a clear and binding contract written up to prevent them from taking advantage of you – as has been the case for many artists, including greats such as Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix. 

Record label contract

For most musicians, the big dream is to get signed by a record label. In too many cases, musicians get so excited when this dream finally comes to fruition that they fail to properly study the contract. This means that they can end up being ripped off.

A good music lawyer will be able to make sure that you’re not signing anything which goes against your interests. 

Samples

A sample is a snippet of somebody else’s song which is then reused in a new song, often remixed. An example of this would be Madonna’s ‘Hung Up’ which featured a sample of ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) by Abba.

Whether you’re looking to use a sample of somebody’s song in your own work, or somebody wants to sample one of yours, this is intellectual property. Therefore, it cannot be done without permission. A music solicitor will help you to navigate this tricky area to make sure that everything is above board.

Prenuptial agreements

While not strictly music related, this one is no less important. If successful, a musician can often make a considerable amount of money during their career – a good chunk of which may be taken from them during a divorce.

This was the case when Sir Paul McCartney divorced Heather Mills and, due to the lack of a prenup, Mills was awarded £24.3 million by a judge for a marriage which lasted just six years. Protecting your assets includes making sure that a spouse is not able to claim an unfair amount in the event that the marriage breaks down. 

Ready to Protect Your Music with the Help of a Lawyer?

Although a musician’s job is to primarily concentrate on making music, it’s important to remember that this is a business. Ownership should be established every step of the way to avoid disputes and being taken advantage of.

Hiring a music lawyer means that you’ve got somebody on your side who knows the music industry inside out. They’ll know exactly what steps need to be taken to make sure that nobody else can benefit from all of your creativity and hard work.

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