The entertainment industry involves the management of various types of intellectual property and different contractual agreements, which can get confusing and overwhelming for artists to navigate on their own.
Fortunately for them, there are entertainment lawyers who know how to work with all types of copyright, liabilities, deals, and contracts. Entertainment lawyers play a significant role in the artist’s successful career.
Let's be clear, an entertainment lawyer does differ from any other type of lawyer. It’s a niche job that not only requires a law degree and formal training but also interest and knowledge of the music industry and its peculiarities.
Therefore, hiring an entertainment lawyer may be quite costly, however, it’s a good investment in your further career as an artist.
What Does an Entertainment Lawyer Do?
An entertainment lawyer is specifically trained for the entertainment industry and knows all the specific laws and requirements.
An entertainment attorney can provide essential career advice and expertise, advise you regarding signing a contract or help you with a counter offer. They also advise you regarding the release and distribution of your music.
Since the law is highly specialized, a non-industry lawyer won't be competent in contracts, copyright claims, infringement, and other legal matters.
Even an entertainment lawyer should be chosen precisely, as the entertainment field is very broad with many areas of expertise and intricacies. Choose depending on where you are in your career and your needs.
Why Do Musicians Need Help from An Entertainment Lawyer?
Many artists only start looking for a lawyer when something really bad happens. This shouldn't be the case! An entertainment lawyer knows how to avoid or prevent getting into bigger trouble. Consider these reasons why legal representation from an entertainment lawyer is essential in the music business.
Artists deal a lot with various contracts throughout their careers. Contracts for various occasions have many aspects, commissions, and terms, so you need to make sure you get the most benefit from this contract.
The lawyer will protect your interests and ensure the terms bring the most advantage to your career.
The entertainment lawyer acts as the middleman for projects that involve other professionals, like agents, production companies, or studios, and makes sure that you get fair compensation for your work.
As an independent artist, you may work with different production companies regarding the sync and licensing deals. Here it’s better to use the services of an entertainment lawyer to make sure the contract offers the artist good terms and conditions.
Protecting Intellectual Property
Artists need help with copyright, they need to protect anything created within the industry from those who may want to buy it, option it, license it, or violate it with unauthorized use.
An entertainment lawyer will monitor social channels and web pages to see if a client's intellectual property is handled properly and if not they will protect it with copyrights and trademarks.
In addition to that, an entertainment lawyer knows the right legal options and letters to send to have your work removed from fraud users.
Insurance is often forgotten about but it is an important component. Artists need to have good insurance for transportation, business interruptions, and studios.
The right insurance contracts will protect artists from legal action if there's an accident in their place of business, if someone gets hurt in the studio, or if a piece of work is stolen or ruined.
The lawyer specializes in contracts and intellectual property, and also they often are a great resource for other areas of expertise. For example, they can provide answers about entertainment payroll, laws, unions, guilds, and other association matters.
Entertainment lawyers can also advise you on inspiration. Even though they aren't artists they have a good understanding of what can be considered a breach of copyright.
Assistance in Case of Infringement
As an artist, you need to make sure your music is not illegally used somewhere without your consent. Moreover, in the age of sampling, you need to ensure you get credit for your work.
An entertainment lawyer is the one to represent your interests in court in case when there is a copyright infringement. They will deal with all the paperwork needed to successfully bring the case to court.
The Average Cost of Hiring an Entertainment Lawyer
A lawyer's service can get very expensive. However, it's a price you pay for their level of professionalism and expertise. Every lawyer has a different pricing and different tasks that are included in that price, so it's important to know all aspects regarding the price before you start working together.
Since entertainment lawyers are highly specialized professionals, the price tag correspondingly can be high, ranging anywhere from $300-$700 an hour. Other lawyers who don't work at an hourly wage, choose to have a fixed-fee policy. The fixed fee expects you to pay a set amount for services provided, which can be anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 for a major deal.
The fee agreement is negotiated once you and your lawyer establish a payment and the lawyer's responsibilities. If the fee seems high, remember that a lawyer is a great investment in your career that will bring benefits long-term. A professional who knows all the aspects of the legal side of the entertainment industry can cost you the difference between success and failure.
Here are some tips on how you can negotiate lawyer fees before signing a contract:
- Make sure you know what you’re getting charged for. If your contract states for an hourly rate, find out what goes into that hour and which tasks are considered. Does a short conversation on a phone call matter? Will you get charged for that as well? Make sure all aspects are clear.
- Keep an eye on the hidden expenses. Find out what expenses you'll be required to pay above the lawyers' fee. Does your lawyer require extra bills for photocopies, faxes, travel, and court fees?
- Don’t forget to review bills. Make sure bills are written promptly and clearly. Do not accept summary billings and a few word explanations do not cover the hours of work. All fees should be explained with hours worked, what was achieved, etc.
Entertainment lawyers play a significant role in any artist's team. These lawyers represent musicians, they focus on topics like trademark disputes, copyright violations, and contracts.
When moving higher in your career and getting more recognition and opportunities, make sure you have a professional entertainment lawyer by your side.
This can save you a lot of money and troubles down the road. Consider all the services you need from a legal professional and choose from the best lawyers using our tips.