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/ Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 3

Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 3

Whether you’re searching for lawyers in person or online, research a few recent cases they have handled or clients with whom they have worked. Check their efficiency by reading reviews, which can help you scratch some names off the “might-be-the-one” list. Remember, you can't be too nice about things when the law is involved! You’ll need someone who is very meticulous and known for getting the job done well.

Here is a small list of general points to consider when looking for a lawyer/attorney:

  1. Do you feel comfortable talking to them?
  2. Are they cost-effectively handling your legal affairs?
  3. Do they give you clear and concise answers to your questions?
  4. How is their attention span? Do they listen to what you are saying and give you proper guidance in base to what you just said?
  5. Is their level of expertise convincing to you?
  6. Do they treat you as an equal?

If you can answer all of these questions with a satisfying “yes” once you’ve completed the whole approach and interview process (which we will explain a little later), then you have yourself an excellent deal! It is a good idea to start considering the answers to these questions from the first point of contact; this will help your insight and judgment a lot.

As for things you should avoid when looking for a lawyer (including “no” answers to any of the previously mentioned suggestions), avoid lawyers that work directly for the record label you’re hoping to sign with. There’s the potential these lawyers may have been speedily hired and their primary responsibility is to the label’s concepts and ideals, which may not match yours at all. Avoid smooth talkers and show-offs. Anyone who brags about other cases they might be handling or blows off your concerns with automated solutions may not be taking what you say very seriously.

Be on the lookout for these attitudes, and if you encounter a lawyer like this, we suggest you move on to someone else. No matter how highly they are recommended, it just won't work—trust me, we are talking about your career here. Don't give in or give up so easily.

Now, the approach to finding a lawyer...

The approach

There are three approaches for you to try, let’s take a look at them:


  1. Music Business Directories: These directories are particularly helpful as they only enlist entertainment lawyers or people with relevant experience. They are also organized geographically, making it easier to locate a legal professional in your area. Music Business Directories are updated annually to include the most proficient, successful lawyers, ensuring that every candidate is up to date with all of the current procedures and legal technicalities you might come across as an artist.

    The downside is that many artists and entertainment professionals hire through this directory, so you might come across a few lawyers that are at capacity or have a long waiting list. But the size of the directory makes it likely that you can find another suitable option.

  1. Referrals: Probably the most straightforward method is to ask your closest friends and family if they know any lawyers with relevant experience. If not, you can reach out to local artists through social media and ask if they would refer you or answer any questions you might have.

    Take advantage of this personal connection. Ask your contact if their experiences with their lawyers have been successful, if they enjoy working together, and if they know how long their lawyer has been working in entertainment law. You can also ask if they knows any other artists that have worked with this lawyer, for how long, etc. Ask until you are satisfied and if you feel convinced, you can to be in contact with the lawyer.

  2. Music Business Conferences: Music Business Conferences are a great way to network for your career and find a lawyer all at the same time! If your primary goal is to gain a lawyer, stick to bigger conferences that involve more entertainment business professionals versus small local deals.

    Hang around at the conference rooms and panels. If any artists or lawyers are being showcased, make a point to hear them chat about their work. If you believe you would work well together, approach them and request an appointment for an interview.

So you made it to the interview, now what? Keep reading for the last installment in our Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer series!

Other articles:

Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 4

Once you have identified a lawyer with whom you’re interested in working, you can arrange for an interview. The interview will most likely take place in the lawyer’s office, or in some cases, an uncrowded public space where you can sort out any questions, doubts or concerns you may have. It is important that it is understood that you are both working for each other, even if you are the one who instigated the meeting. You are equals and both have to treat each other with respect, sorting out everything until you are satisfied with the solutions.

At the beginning of the interview, let the lawyer know that you would like to ask a few questions. This is normal protocol and should not be any cause of concern. Such questions may include:


  1. What is your (the lawyer’s) fee structure? Do you charge at an hourly rate or on a 'flat fee' basis?

Ask about any specific legal fees, which can often estimate between $150-500. You can even ask to be quoted for a specific service. This means the lawyer will provide a specific digit or range of how much something would cost and how it would be divided.


  1. Have you worked in the entertainment business outside of as a lawyer? (It is not totally unusual for lawyers to have been musicians or actors themselves or have expertise in another area of the industry.)

  1. What percentage of your law practice is music law?

  1. How many years have you been practicing music law?

  1. Are there any kinds of music business matters that you do not handle?

Remember the questions we told you to ask yourself here; check in with yourself on how you feel the interview has gone and if you feel satisfied with the replies. If the lawyer has been able to engage you in successful conversation and interact in a professional, personable manner, congratulations—you may have found the person for the job! So, what is next?

Time To Work


Now that you have found yourself a good lawyer that you can trust, it is time to start moving along your business. Arrange for a follow-up meeting to talk business details, career goals, and any outstanding legal issues. The best advice is to inform yourself before you go talk with your lawyer. This will help you keep you in a primary position role in the handling of all your affairs and allow you to assist with eloquent and functional suggestions on your part on how to resolve your issue.

Indeed, having a good lawyer part of the process of establishing yourself as an artist. Not only does it provide legal strength to your material, but also to your name and brand. Follow these suggestions, and we’re sure you can find the right person for the job!

Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 2

Deal shopping occurs when a lawyer or attorney approaches a record company and/or and music publisher in attempts to get a record or publishing deal for the artist they represent.

The tricky thing is that it can occasionally be seen as sketchy or odd for a lawyer to promote an unsigned artist directly to a record label. Some labels do not care for this as they assume that, due to their status, they would already be aware of any sensational on-the-rise artists.


So, why might you want to seek out a lawyer who engages in deal shopping? Any legal professional who successfully engages in deal shopping is likely to have a good deal of experience. As the client, you can ask to see proof of past deals and get a sense of the level at which the lawyer is working. What sort of access do they have to various labels, artists, and other industry individuals through their experience and networking? These connections create opportunities for a sort of ‘professional vouching’ as a recommendation to a label from a well-known layer may be taken more seriously, giving you a higher chance of being brought in.


In any case, be sure to clarify compensation with your lawyer as commission only (a percentage of what you would earn from any legal deal) so that you do not have to front the cost. If your lawyer is resistant to commission-based payment, it may be a sign that he or she does not envision their “shopping efforts” being very successful and that you should consider an alternative legal partner.


So now, how can we narrow our search even further? Let's get into actual lawyer acquisition methods.

Firms: Small vs. Big

If you are in need of a law firm (a group of several lawyers that deals with projects that are too big or complex for a single lawyer to handle) we suggest you check both scenarios.


  1. Small Firm: A small firm has a few lawyers and small work force, allowing them to have a more personal relationship with you. They may not have all the answers to your questions at a moment's notice, but they will help you figure out the best outcome according to your need and take care of you as a client. They also operate at lower hourly rates so they will not cost as much as a large firm.

  1. Large Firm: Large firms typically have experience and expertise in spades. They are responsible for handling complex tax issues and any problems you may have with your music or merchandise. Working with a large firm tends to be stricter and more regulated as you are processed like any other client according to their regulations.

It is unlikely that you will require a large law firm at the start of your career unless you are already a viral star with a very large fan base. Even so, both types of firms are equipped to handle artists and it is more a matter of what you feel will suit you and your business needs best.

Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 1

Any artist who starts putting out more and more material may require a lot of legal processing to protect their work from illegal use, including piracy or any form of altering to which the artist has not consented. You may choose to seek out a legal professional at this stage, but the process of finding someone that is trustworthy and reliable can be a very taxing process. As this professional will play a crucial role in the protection and success of their client, it is worth investing to find just the right person for the job.

For this new relationship to work as well as possible, you want to find someone with legal experience and generous knowledge of proper protocol. Seek out someone with whom you can build a lasting relationship, much like an agent or manager. As your new legal partner gets to know you, working together will become easier and more efficient, particularly as you communicate your specific needs and how you hope to be assisted.

Before beginning the search for a lawyer or attorney, first you need to consider what legal services you require and how this relationship could best support the future growth of your business.


Lawyer or Attorney...

Lawyer is a more general term for a person who gives legal advice and aid and who conducts suits in court. An attorney (or attorney-at-law), on the other hand, is a member of the legal profession who represents a client in court when pleading or defending a case.


The difference between these two legal professionals is minimal in terms, and both should be knowledgeable of the procedures known as entertainment laws, which pertain to clients in the entertainment and music industries. There are lawyers who specialize in this aspect called entertainment lawyers who may be preferential as they have both relevant experience and the appropriate knowledge.

As for when you may require a lawyer, whenever you sign a deal or legal document, your lawyer is there to protect, advise and properly explain the intricacies of the procedure in question. As mentioned before, he or she can also help you with the paperwork for all legal protection of your material (both online and off), merchandise, copywriting and trademarking.


Now, some lawyers enact a tactic called Deal Shopping, which we will discuss more in our next article. The prospect of deal shopping can significantly narrow your search for a layer depending on how crucial this tactic is to your business.

Getting Out of a Creative Block (Tips and Tricks to Avoid and Erase a Creative Block)

As artists, we all have our streaks and struggles, good days and bad days. But, every once in a while we face one of the most common, yet annoying and mind-boggling situations—a creative block!


Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever picked up your instrument only to find that nothing new comes out? You find yourself mentally stuck on how to progress or develop a song? Well, fear not; here are some tips to help you work your way through a block and get back to creating.


  • Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Yes, literally get out of it. Walk to some new place in town and bring your instrument with you. If you sing, create new vocals on the spot. Discover new places and different scenarios that completely disrupt your regular routine. Step into the unknown!

  • Switch Up Your Practice Spot: Lots of musicians practice in a consistent, specific location. While this can be good as you learn to relate to a space and develop a comfortable focus, it can also become monotonous. So, try playing somewhere else! Take your instrument to a different spot in your house or studio and see what happens. Even rearranging your space can give a new feel to a familiar place and serve to refresh your mind.

  • Stop Playing: While we don’t recommend this indefinitely (or even frequently), taking a couple days off can help you move through a creative block. You might feel sluggish once you pick up your instrument again, but it should only take a couple minutes of warm-ups to get you back on track. Why do this, you may ask? Perhaps your mind and creative capacity have been stretched to the limit and just need a little break. You have to give yourself time to relax and regain strength; procrastinate a little and enjoy other things in life, like watching television or hanging out with friends. Trust me, things that help get your mind away from the compulsive need to see progress in your work will actually increase your desire and motivation to create. Your budding mental itch will guide you back to your work after a few days and will indeed bring great results, greater than what you may imagine. 
  • Learn A Different Music Genre: While this can be a bit more time-consuming, try learning a new style or two. A new genre can be a very helpful mental refresher. If you typically play rock music, you don’t have to stray too far. Try learning some heavy metal riffs, or even country riffs.  Experiment with a few classical songs to help change your perspective. The mental exercise of learning something new can yield great results in your usual playing style.

Becoming a Session Musician (What to Expect & How to be Ready For It)

Session musicians dedicate their time to performing and arranging music for other artists, often collaborating with solo artists looking for a guitar, bass, drum or extra voice. Multiple session musicians can even form a small band just for the production of a single or a few songs for an album.

While session musicians are paid for their collaborative work, some artists also share royalties with the session musicians and the studio producers, depending on the complexity of the job. However, even without royalties, a session musician can make a good living from performing in the studio.

Usually session musicians are given guidelines on what to expect when they join a record label or an independent music production studio. One must:

  • Have the ability to play many different genres/music styles
  • Be knowledgeable about improvisation and good at musical problem-solving
  • Have the capacity to work with all kind of personalities and adapt quickly to various environments
  • Have significant availability for on-call sessions and always have your instruments ready

To become a session musician, you should seek out production houses that are looking for people who play your instrument(s) or have your particular set of skills (improvisation/genre-specific/multi-instruments). These days, many session musicians are online freelancers and record from home, but the earnings may not be as high as for an in-house musician. The benefits of collaborating with a production house include regular exposure to new and unique styles and often higher, and more consistent wages.

Once you contact a production house, you will usually have an interview in which the producers or artists will listen to your work (have a portfolio ready with samples of all of your various skills). Be prepared to potentially record or play with other session musicians they might have. In the end, you will become part of a team that you’ll likely be collaborating with on a somewhat daily basis. Being friendly and professional goes a long way!

Many session musicians often rehearse and even tour with artists. Touring can be challenging but also an amazing experience, opening up many professional opportunities!

There are many options for session musicians; as mentioned, they are sort of hybrid freelance-office personas that are easily adaptable and tremendously talented. If you consider yourself in this camp, there’s a good chance you would find this work very fulfilling. Many session musicians play for audio-visual projects, electronic music producers (making samples and experimental noise), compose small riffs or solos and even improvise on the spot to help other artists grasp different musical concepts and aid in their creative process.