How to hire the right music lawyer to represent you
As your career progresses, much of your focus will often resolve around the creative and marketing aspects. These are the aspects of your career that enable you to grow and increase your income. Due to this, it is all too easy to pour all of your resources into making sure you are doing everything you can to grow your creativity. Often, it is the more vital precautions that get overlooked in the first instance. Something which artists sometimes fail to give enough focus to early on is selecting legal representation. It’s understandable; artists are creative first and foremost, so naturally the legal aspect gets overlooked.
Choosing legal representation can be daunting, especially if this is your first time hiring a lawyer. Regardless of the path your career takes, there will be plenty of instances when you need to consult your legal representation. A music lawyer will be able to help advise you on many of your big career moves, particularly those involving contracts. In the past there have been plenty of instances when artists have signed a contract with the label of their dreams, only to realise that the contract contains clauses that they’re not happy with. When an exciting opportunity comes along, it can be all too easy to forget to protect yourself in a legal sense, this is where your lawyer comes in.
Your lawyer may play the role of the middleman when you make important moves in your career. Their main priority will be protecting you, your rights and interests, and everything you have ownership over. A good lawyer will stop you from making mistakes like signing a contract that will prove negative in the long run. Some lawyers only deal with specific areas of the music industry, some only deal with rights to music while others associate themselves more with live shows. You may want to choose a lawyer that covers every aspect of your career, or may choose to hire a different lawyer for each of your specific needs.
Most of your lawyer’s responsibilities will centre around protecting and enforcing your rights, as well as registering trademarks and conducting deals between you and your label manager, manager, writers and producers. A good lawyer will not only focus on everything in black and white and offer legal advice, but will also think about the bigger picture and help you to advance your career. A great lawyer will be able to offer you advice that will aid you in your future career and will always be multiple steps ahead of the curve. By working closely with your manager, your lawyer will understand your aspirations and goals for your career, enabling them to be better informed when negotiating your interests.
Knowing when to hire a lawyer to look after your interests is something that most artists struggle with. The simple answer is, you should hire a lawyer as soon as you are in a position where you need to sign something. Never commit to signing a contract with anyone, specifically a label, without getting the advice of a lawyer. By doing this, you minimise the chances of being caught out by a clause or losing potential revenue.
Before deciding on a lawyer it is important to note that you should meet with multiple options. You may want to meet someone recommended to you by another producer, or may find someone online that seems to fit your needs. Always meet with multiple lawyers before making your final decision, this way you can be sure that you are making the right choice. To avoid conflict early on, you should let lawyers you are meeting with know that you are also speaking to other options. Transparency is always key, as the lawyers in question may be giving up their time free of charge and may feel cheated if you decide to go for another option. Nobody likes to feel that their time is being wasted.
Lawyers are expensive, which is one of the reasons why selecting one can be quite stressful. Some ask for an hourly rate, while others agree to take a cut of your earnings from the deals that they arrange. You can expect to pay anywhere between £100-£400 per hour for a lawyer, which is why choosing the right one is so important. If you’re unsure how much they will cost you in the long run, it is worth asking them how much they would usually charge for tasks such as publishing deals to give you a general idea. It is important to remember that everyone works at a different rate, a more expensive lawyer may complete a task in half the time that a cheaper lawyer can, resulting in the more expensive lawyer being a more cost-effective choice in the long run.
Once you reach a certain level in your career, hiring a lawyer is essential. If you choose not to hire legal representation, you may only realise when it is too late that you have made the wrong choice. Although lawyers are costly, by not hiring one you may lose a much larger sum in the future. This could happen through making a naïve mistake and signing a bad contract. As with every big decision that faces you in your career as an artist, take your time, assess the pros and cons. Decisions like this require a great deal of contemplation, but will usually result in a positive outcome. Hiring a lawyer may be a daunting prospect, but is a step that every artist must take in order to secure their assets.
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