We currently live in a world where technology provides musicians with more tools and platforms to record their music and connect with a much wider audience than ever before. It has changed the way in which consume music as well as forcing the music industry to change and evolve alongside with these technologies. The music industry itself can seem a bewildering, ruthlessly complex environment that can leave a musician in a potentially vulnerable position especially if they lack functional knowledge about how the business itself actually works. A lot of ambitious musicians begin their music career passionately honing their craft, perfecting technique, producing material they deem to be suitable for the listener and building up a fan base. Generally little heed is given to business ethic, not as much as their image at least. This in turn may leave them prone to the exploitative nature of this dynamic industry; sharks come in many forms, there are opacities within the industry and advantages can be taken. With this being said, by equipping themselves with the correct information, even the basic fundamental concepts of music publishing, a shrewd musician will have a better understanding of what is going on in the event they get signed, publishing contract negotiations ensue as well as other areas that need careful attention.
When it comes to getting your music out there are many ways. A lot of musicians take the DIY route when it comes to handling their bands affairs, at least to begin with. This, depending on the type of music can be very manageable but it's always advantageous to have the financial backing of a label when it comes to recording fees, distribution, marketing, promotion and sales.
For example, say, we have a 3 piece, hard-working band going by the name ‘Biscuit' who in a short space of time have built up a very large, loyal fan base. They write their own music, gig regularly, utilise social media intelligently and their self-funded EP received great reviews from reputable music bloggers and DJs. Bar allying themselves with a local label, they are unsigned and have embraced a DIY approach to handling their affairs with the exception of a manager who has helped them on the financial level as well as direction. With this being said, they realise that in order to afford quality studio time to record the album they envision as well as promote and market it professionally they will need more money than their gigs and merchandise provide. With the help of their manager, press pack and their efforts, they catch the attention of a scout from a major label who eagerly wants to sign them before someone else snaps them up. Negotiations are brought up in conversation, contacts swapped and meetings are set. When contracts come into the frame, especially when intellectual property that has the potential for significant monetary value is in question, it is important to appoint a lawyer that specialises in the talent end of music law as well as being active in the industry. An ideal lawyer would be up to date with what is happening in the industry, “know what is commonly acceptable in the industry, and the areas of negotiation” (Gammon pg 77) so that their client thoroughly understands what it is in the contract they are agreeing to. Whether writer (author), artist, manager or producer a lawyer will help to protect their rights and develop their reputation. In the music industry it all boils down to intellectual property, rights and what is done with them. “Intellectual Property or 'IP' is a broad term that is used to describe the results of creative and innovative endeavours. It is described as 'intellectual' because it is the result of the application of the mind. It is described as 'property' because, just like other property, it can be owned, sold and transferred, leased or given away” (IP QUOTE 1); tangible cognitive fruits. In the instance of an album, the person responsible for writing an original musical composition and lyrics of a song is the author and holds the copyright to these intellectual properties; if s/he is responsible for creating the visual artwork accompanying it also. (Gammon pg13) states that, “Copyright is a protection that covers published and unpublished works. It exists at the point of creation, arising automatically. The copyright work, however, must exist in a material form, for example, that of a recording or sheet music”. Being the copyright owner gives certain rights over their creation, these include: The right to duplicate their creation; which essentially means that no one can record the work, use it for cinematographic purposes or publish transcriptions without your permission. Secondly, the right to distribute copies of their creation to the public; duplicates cannot be sold or issued (whether digital or physical copies) without permission from copyright holder. The right to perform the creation in public; Any businesses, concerts, broadcasts (tv/radio/streaming services)
copyright/intellectual property> contract – Key terms > Eg bands contract> Examples of other contracts (Short contemporary eg) > How the industry works (Artist-manager-label-publisher-collection societies- royalties(Mechanical, Performance, synch, print rights/royalties) Indie compared to Majors(Names of Irish/US/England)> Publishers
...(download the rest of the essay above)