Practice Areas


Practice Areas

Music Business and Entertainment Law 2017

The business model for the music industry in 2017 is radically different from the business model for last year and I would bet radically different from the model for next year. The decline in sales by major labels has occurred at the same pace as the development of tools for artists to distribute their music independently across a broad platform. This new way of doing business presents a wealth of opportunities and challenges for artists. While new opportunities and revenue streams have evolved, numerous pitfalls have arisen and, as has always been the case, it is absolutely critical that an artist knows what they are getting themselves involved with. A large part of my practice involves advising clients on these various possibilities.

On a general basis, I am involved with drafting and negotiation of recording agreements, agreements with producers and mixers, production agreements, distribution agreements, publishing, co-publishing and administration agreements and licenses, management agreements, agreements with investors, agreements for film and television as well as book publishing and the sale of music publishing catalogs.

Entertainment Litigation and Dispute Resolution
I have represented litigants in both state and federal courts since 1984. I have had extensive experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of entertainment related cases ranging from copyright infringement to disputes over publishing agreements, management agreements, recording agreements and ownership of intellectual property. Often matters can be resolved without resorting to litigation and in my opinion, this is the preferable way to settle disputes but it is important to know what your rights and responsibilities are and how to protect and enforce those rights. I try and help people deal with complex problems that can lead to litigation.

Copyright and Trademark Matters
I advise clients on all areas related to copyright registration and protection.
With respect to trademark rights, I counsel clients in the protection of group names, company names and protection of names for entertainment properties. Years ago, an attorney friend of mine wrote an article in which she stated her opinion that there were no more good group names available for trademark protection. While I scoffed at this observation at the time, I am beginning to realize that she had a point and therefore, it is absolutely essential for recording artists and entertainers to ensure that their name is available for protection on an national (and sometimes international) basis before investing heavily in the marketing and exploitation of that name. I have had experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in trademark infringement and trade dress infringement litigation. Protecting against trademark infringement can be an ongoing battle for many established artists.

Business Formation
I counsel clients with respect to the most appropriate business entity to form for their particular enterprise. Most music groups are stunned when I tell them that by performing together, they actually meet the legal definition of a partnership and become subject to the application of state partnership law. It is important for groups and individuals to work through these issues and choose a business entity that allows them the flexibility they require as well as the protections from legal liability afforded by such business entities. I have worked with clients for years in drafting partnership agreements, forming corporations and forming limited liability companies. Because limited liability companies provide such a unique method of flexibility in doing business in Tennessee, I try to keep up with the emerging trends in this area.

Divorce and Family Law

Divorce is awful. No matter what the cause or basis for dissolving a marriage, the divorce process is stressful. Adding to this stress is the whole concept of dividing marital property. I believe that a great deal of the uncertainty and mystery surrounding a divorce action can be avoided by an understanding of how courts in Tennessee determine what is separate property and what is marital property and what the guidelines are for dividing marital property. Within the context of the music industry, this understanding is essential because copyrights and royalties are the types of property which can be subject to division in a divorce.

Wills and Estate Planning
In my law practice, I have found that one of the most troubling issues for people to deal with is the preparation of a Will. However, a Will is absolutely essential if you have children. It is imperative that you provide for the care and custody of your children if something were to happen to you and your spouse or former spouse and that further you establish a trust for your children during their youth and beyond so that they are properly provided for. Estate planning is also important for artists and songwriters and estate planning intersects with copyright law when one begins to understand and plan for the administration of renewal rights in copyrights and termination interests in copyrights.

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