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How much does it cost to get an entertainment attorney to look over contracts dealing with getting signed to a record label?

Atlanta, GA |

Could you provide info on copyrighting material such as lyrics, instrumentals, and song.

Attorney Answers 5


It all depends on the attorney and the contract. It could be a few hours. It could be more. So it could be anywhere from $400 and up. The only way to know is by contacting a local entertainment lawyer and asking them.

This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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You are smart to ask. I would expect this to cost you $200-$800 depending on what you want done long term. You will get a better deal from an attorney if you are planning to have that attorney do future work, as well. Remember to ask for a free initial consultation. For information on music copyrights, you should read the following book: Be sure to get the latest edition (Dec 2012) so you have current information.

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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I regularly perform this service for clients, and I regularly represent record labels in signing artists. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to predict how much it would cost for you to retain counsel to review your contract. Record label deals come in many different shapes and formats, and they can be quite complicated. Depending on how much money is involved, the legal fees can be quite high----major artists have lawyers on speed dial and will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to negotiate a record deal. If this is your first record deal, you probably can get a lawyer to look over the paperwork for a few hundred dollars---but you should be asking for a lot more than just a review of paperwork---you need a lawyer and/or agent to guide on many aspects of your career----the record label deal may seem very important to you right now, but in reality it is a very small piece of the total picture. You need to team up with an entertainment/intellectual property lawyer who you trust to develop a comprehensive career strategy---without understanding and helping you develop a comprehensive strategy, a lawyer's review of a proposed record deal is of limited value.

Record deals differ depending upon the content that you will be providing. If you are an original songwriter of words and lyrics, you own the copyright in the composition which you must license to anyone who records your song (including a record label). If there is more than one songwriter, the songwriters typically enter into a songwriting and publishing agreement (with the record label often, but not always, serving as publisher). If you are also an artist who performs the songs, you need to enter into an artist agreement with your record label pursuant to which the record label ordinarily owns the copyright in the master recording of your performance in exchange for which you receive advance payment and/or royalties based on record sales. Further, separate agreements must be crafted for use of the song in music videos. Your songwriters and publishing agreement may cover the use of the song in videos and/or licensing the song for use in advertisements, movies, etc. In short, there are a wide array of agreements that need to be put into place as part of a record deal--and you need to work closely with entertainment/music licensing counsel to craft the appropriate deal. I do these deals every day---and there is no one-size-fits all deal, nor is there a "standard" throughout the industry.

Finally, you should read books on music publishing and licensing, and the creation of independent record labels. The more you study the business side, the more successful you will be as an artist. But in the final analysis, there is no substitute for developing a long term working relationship with an entertainment lawyer/agent.

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Figure 3-6 hours, depending on the contract(s). If you're lucky enough to be offered a record deal, you need to take your career as seriously as the label is. These contracts are often in several parts, hundreds of pages long, and are what's known as "360" deals, involving not just recordings, but also music publishing (your songwriting), your name and likeness on merchandising for "branding," and personal appearances.

And you need more than someone to "look over" the contracts, you need detailed comments,. and negotiation, which means more of the lawyer's time.

But this is your future, and these contracts are meant to cover a long span of time and a lot of your work and what can make you successful, so it's worth the investment.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

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My firm does it for $500. That includes reviewing it, and marking it up with our comments. It does not include negotiation.

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