Join Richard Stim for an in-depth discussion in this video Hiring a lawyer, part of Music Law: Managing a Band's Business.
- At some point, your band may need an attorney's advice, and the best way to locate one is through referrals from other bands, or musicians. It is also possible to locate, interview, and hire a music attorney through a lawyer referral service. For example, California Lawyers for the Arts runs a referral service that specializes in entertainment and patent attorneys. The Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, VLA in New York City, vlany.org, also maintains a national directory of various organizations offering legal assistance for musicians.
In addition, there are numerous online legal directories such as Avvo and Justia that offer online referrals. Keep in mind that a referral service cannot guarantee the quality of the attorney's services. Interview the attorney to determine if he or she has the experience necessary to handle your task. Find out information about fees, and if you decide to retain the attorney, make sure your fee agreement is with the band partnership, not an individual member.
This reduces the chances of a conflict of interest, because the lawyer represents the interests of the group, not an individual. Be sure your band can afford the lawyer's services. Ask how charges are calculated, and what the estimated cost for the job will be, and ask for an explanation if the bill exceeds the estimate. Is a retainer required? Find out if you can use a credit card or pay over several months, and whether interest will be charged if your payments are late. Ask your attorney to work for fixed fees for certain work, rather than hourly billings.
That is, see if you can get a flat rate for the whole job so you'll know what to expect. Billings should be prompt and clear. Do not accept summary billings, for example, something vague like "litigation work." When you get bills you don't understand, ask the attorney for an explanation, and request that the attorney not bill you for the explanation. Below are some additional tips for saving money with an attorney. Elect one member to be the contact person with the attorney, to ask questions and relay information to the rest of the band.
Lawyers charge for telephone time, so don't duplicate your effort. The contact person should keep a list of questions for the lawyer. Ask them all in one telephone call, and take notes on the answers. Have a band meeting an hour before talking to the lawyer. Make a list of any questions or problems you need to cover during the meeting. Make sure everyone shows up on time so that you aren't billed for time spent re-explaining things to the band member who arrives late.
It starts with what it means to be the manager of a band, and what types of business structures are available for bands. Once you've decided on a business structure, you can create a band partnership agreement that covers voting rights, postbreakup scenarios, new members, and terms for resolving disputes. Richard also exposes potential sources of disputes, like ownership of the band name, songs, equipment, and recordings. He includes advice on negotiating solid band contracts and managing financial basics: taxes, income, cash flow, and bookkeeping. Finally, he'll address how to protect your work, including your copyrights, band name, and songs, and explains how to find a lawyer—and save money on attorney fees.
DISCLAIMER: This course is taught by an attorney (or other instructor) and addresses US law concepts that may not apply in all countries. Neither LinkedIn (including Lynda.com) nor the instructor represents you and they are not giving legal advice. The information conveyed through this course is akin to a college or law school course; it is not intended to give legal advice, but instead to communicate information to help viewers understand the basics of the topic presented. The views (and legal interpretations) presented in this course do not necessarily represent the views of LinkedIn or Lynda.com.
- Putting together a band partnership agreement
- Working out ownership disputes
- Limiting band liability
- Protecting your copyrights and band name
- Hiring a lawyer