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Do I need a entertainment lawyer to affiliate with a music publisher?

Saginaw, MI |

I have a LLC which is a record company and I need to affiliate my record company with a music publisher, so my company can collect the royalties on behalf of my artists.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Best answer

    No you don't. The publisher should issue your record company a mechanical license for the right to reproduce the son on CDs and for downloads. But-- consider forming your own publishing company acquiring rights to those songs and then licensing them to your own label and to others! Be like the majors!

    This post does not create an attorney-client relationship between my firm and the asker. In all events, the asker is well advised to secure advice from an attorney with experience in the area covered by the question asked. This answer is posted for general purposes only.


  2. The quick answer is no, you don't need an attorney. But, you would likely want an attorney to draft the agreement(s).

    This is not to be construed as legal advice, and I am not your attorney, A conflict check and engagement letter would necessarily be required before any retention or attorney/client privilege exists.


  3. The answer is No, you don't need one to affiliate with a publisher. However an entertainment attorney specializing in music likely has the industry relationships to guide and consul you through the process including reviewing any contract with a publisher.


  4. As the other attorneys have said, you don't absolutely have to have an attorney handle it. That being said, you are likely to come out better at the end of the day - both financially and in terms of minimizing music publishing headaches (of which there can be many) - if you are advised by an entertainment attorney with substantial music publishing experience.

    I agree very much with the suggestion about setting up your own publishing company. And if you don't want to deal with the minutia of managing publishing royalties, you could align your own publishing company with another (larger) publishing company which could administer the catalog and collect your publishing income worldwide. They would normally want in the range of 10-15% as an administration fee. There are other ways you could structure it as well.

    In terms of how you approach everything, and whether you would benefit from obtaining outside advice and assistance, one big factor is the volume of your record sales. If, for example, your record sales volume is relatively low, then there is less at stake financially speaking, and accordingly, lesser value in dollars and cents in getting outside assistance.

    Another factor is what your recording contracts say, and what your artists have already agreed to and/or are now willing to agree to.

    For more info about music publishing and different types of publishing deals, see http://www.musicbizacademy.com/articles/publishingdeals.htm.

    Good luck.

    The above is not intended as legal advice and does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship, as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.


  5. I disagree and think the answer is YES, you need an entertainment lawyer. Do you absolutely have to have one? Of course not, but the music industry is very complex procedurally due to a history of conflicts and the power of the key players to set terms and changes in the power structure over the years. For example, the record labels used to totally dominate the music industry, but the biggest label now? iTunes! The Internet has changed the game dramatically and reduced the labels' power, but there are many holdover customs, often counterintuitive that must be mastered. So you really do need an entertainment attorney. Perhaps more than anything you need one because it is the one person you can trust to be on your side, as most others are working on a percentage while the attorney will usually just be working on a fixed fee or hourly rate and a good entertainment lawyer will give you a much better shot at keeping all the contingent workers honest and keeping all others with whom you work within customary and, hopefully, reasonable terms. Of course, if you are a novice, you must realize you are at the mercy of the ones controlling the purse strings so you may have to take what you can get at the start and just try to keep the lopsided initial contracts of short duration. It would do you well to get a good book on how the music industry works so you can talk the lingo and walk the walk of an insider, particularly if you think you don't need a lawyer.

    I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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