For some time now, Genius has been contemplating ways to support budding artists, especially those of color who have historically been refused financial assistance, the ability to control their own work, and providing them with the critical knowledge they need before signing any dubious papers. So we phoned Joe Brenner, an entertainment lawyer and partner at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, one of the country’s largest entertainment law companies.
So, why should an artist hire an entertainment lawyer? Here are the top five non-obvious solutions.
WHAT DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE CONTRACT?
It’s not only what’s in a contract that has to be considered; it’s also what’s NOT in a contract. A contract, for example, may always include additional protections for an artist, but the artist must expressly request them. So, how do you know what to request? Answer: You must have extensive expertise with these types of contracts (which I have) and remain current on changing industry conventions (which I do). You’re going in blind without legal representation. Based on my expertise, I can give you a 20/20 vision.
Let’s face it: the entertainment business is about image more than it is about art. You want to portray a strong and appealing image that commands the respect of the industry and customers. When artists (especially those without legal advice) communicate inadvertently, it may be dangerous to others in the business that they are naive and vulnerable to terrible agreements. Hiring an entertainment lawyer, contrary to common assumption, is an act of self-preservation—and sure, it is a bit of a “power move” (nothing wrong with that!). Having a lawyer on your side communicates to others that you demand respect and will not be abused.
EDUCATION = CONSULTATION
The most significant service I give to customers is legal consulting and education. I assist customers in navigating the entertainment business’s high learning curve, whether it’s educating them how to collect royalties in the music industry or how to thrive in independent film production. Knowledge is power, and the more I can empower my customers, the better our chances are. You can’t succeed in an industry you don’t understand, thus artists must comprehend the structure, hierarchy, and vocabulary of the entertainment business. Education is a long-term investment that always returns benefits.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
What do you want to be in 5 years? Artists might find it hard to see the big picture when the future is so hard to predict. My focus while reviewing a customer’s contract is not just on how it will benefit them in the immediate future.
I also look at how it will help them in the long term. Does the client’s career benefit from this contract, this person, or this relationship? Or is it only a prelude to what is to come? Everyone feels they are completely unique in the larger scheme of the cosmos, yet patterns appear everywhere. I’ve witnessed firsthand the trends that drive artists to success or failure, and the value of my services resides in spotting those patterns over time.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN PERSONAL INTERPRETER
The language of the entertainment business (particularly music) might be considered a foreign language. Words don’t always mean what you believe they do. Only those of us who have studied and spoken the language fluently can genuinely comprehend it. I’ve seen numerous music producers, for example, mix up the terms “public performance” with “live performance.”
These are NOT the same thing, and such distinctions may have a significant influence on an artist’s career and earning potential. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage by rejecting the necessity for an interpreter while competing in a world where everyone else is fluent.
Musicians are commonly represented by entertainment lawyers. They are well-versed in music contracts and have contacts in the music business. They have entertainment attorneys in both New York and Miami. They will ensure that their customers understand their contract before they sign it and will advise them on any concerns that may arise. Overall, they want to secure the greatest deal for their customers and see them thrive. Visit the Chase Lawyers website to learn more about entertainment lawyers in New York and Miami.
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