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Lawyers for Musicians: What do they do?

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Who are Lawyers for Musicians?

Lawyers for musicians are legal representatives who specialize in the music industry. These lawyers represent record labels, musicians, and others in the music industry and focus on issues like trademark disputes, copyright violations, and even recording contract signing.

Lawyers who specialize in the music industry possess a deep understanding of the ins and outs of the music business. This is because lawyer for musicians must be able to defend their clients against industry-specific disputes that other lawyers may not have knowledge of.

Why Do Musicians Need Lawyers?

Going into the music industry involves more than getting paid to make music. There are extensive record deals to be signed, intellectual property to be protected, and trademarks and copyrights to establish. Musicians need lawyers because navigating these areas can be difficult and sometimes even impossible without the right know-how.

When a musician hires an entertainment lawyer , they can trust that person to act with their best interest in mind. This means that their lawyer should advocate for them to facilitate recording agreement contract terms. Lawyers also ensure that intellectual property is protected from being stolen by their label or elsewhere through copyright and trademark issuances. This may involve filing a trademark application or copyright application.

Check out this article to learn more about why it’s important for musicians to have entertainment lawyers.

Common Contracts Used by Musicians

Having a lawyer to consult and trust in when it comes to contract signing is one of the biggest benefits for musicians who hire entertainment lawyers. Since contracts in this field can deal with huge amounts of money and can span several years, signing without a professional on your side is not something you want to risk doing. No matter what type of contract it is, and no matter how big or small the agreement might be, it is always in your best interest to have a music lawyer review it before signing.

Here are some examples of common contracts used by musicians that contract lawyers specialize in as well:

Licensing Agreement

Licensing agreements are among the most important contracts in the music industry. The purpose of this agreement is to ensure that the owner of the music gets paid appropriately when their music is used.

If you’re a musician, the number one most important thing you can do for your art is make sure it is fully legally protected via a licensing agreement. Not only does this give you legal recourse against those who steal your music, but it makes sure that you are not robbed of the financial gains you are entitled to when your song is used.

Music Commissioning Agreement

A music commissioning agreement involves a musician being paid for his work on a custom project. When someone approaches them wanting to arrange for a custom song to be made, it is called a commission. Music commissioning agreements ensure that musicians are paid fairly for their work. They also establish certain terms and conditions such as deadlines, compensation details, duration of the song, and dispute resolution instructions.

Record Label Contract

If you hope to be a famous musician one day, you’ve probably heard of a record label contract. These contracts give musicians money in exchange for their rights to the music they make with the contracted record label. These agreements usually establish the amount an artist can expected to be paid, how long the agreement lasts, and how many records must be produced during the duration of the contract.

These contracts also include vital details about the terms surrounding financial streams that music creates, such as:

  • Record sales
  • Merchandise sales
  • Touring

Intellectual Property License

When an entertainment lawyer files for an intellectual property license, it makes using the music without properly compensating the artist illegal. In more specific terms, an intellectual property license indicates that a licensor (the musician) must give permission to the user (licensee) before their property can be used legally. Gaining permission to use an artist’s intellectual property usually involves paying a fee.

Sync License

A synchronization license, or sync license for short, is an agreement between the owner of a song and someone that wants to use it alongside a video. Sync licensing allows for legal use of copyrighted songs with pre-approval.

Booking Agreement

When a musician goes on tour, they visit many different cities. For each venue, there is a booking agreement that outlines the details of the event. These details often include:

  • Date and time information
  • Location
  • Compensation

Booking agreements exist to protect both parties and makes sure that everyone holds up their end of the deal. Like other types of contracts, booking agreements also include details about what happens when someone violates the contract or what can be done in the event of a cancellation.

Exclusive Rights Agreement

Music lawyers don’t only work for singers and songwriters. They are also valuable tools for music producers and composers as well. Exclusive rights agreements accompany music productions or compositions and serve as a written guarantee that the piece of music will not be sold to anyone else – it is exclusive to the purchaser.

Here is an article about the different types of contracts used by musicians and what they do.

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How Much Does a Music Lawyer Cost?

Contracts in the entertainment industry can get long, complicated, and confusing. The good news is music lawyers are well-versed in reading, editing, and making sure these contracts benefit you. However, there is a price that you must pay for that expertise.

Since entertainment lawyers are highly specialized professionals who focus on high-profile contracts and agreements, the price tag associated with contracting with a music lawyer can be high, ranging anywhere from $300-$1,000 per contract depending on the lawyer’s hourly rate.

Even though the cost of working with a music lawyer might sound high, remember than an investment in professional help is an investment in yourself and in your craft. Having a professional who knows the ins and outs of the legal climate of the music industry could be the difference between your success and failure.

Learn more about the costs associated with music lawyers and why you should pay them by checking out this article .

How to Find a Good Music Lawyer

Locating a good music lawyer might seem like a daunting task, and it can be intimidating, especially if you have no experience. However, it is not as difficult as it may sound. Here are three quick steps you can take to make sure an entertainment lawyer is the right fit for you:

  • Come prepared: Make a list of all the needs you have for a contract lawyer. Make sure to include background information about yourself to help your music lawyer understand what their role will be.
  • Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions; after all, you want to make sure your music lawyer knows how to answer them.
  • Trust your gut: If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not a good match. On the other hand, if you “click” with a lawyer, it’s probably meant to be.

Are you ready to get connected with a music lawyer today? Post a project on ContractsCounsel to get matched with top entertainment lawyers who are ready to help you now.


ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.


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