Knowledge is power, especially in the music industry. Or as Stephen Hawking puts more eloquently: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.”
So – educate yourself and make the most of your career. Here are some resources I’ve created to help you on that journey:
Kurt Dahl Thesis – in 2009 I successfully defended my Master of Laws (LL.M.) thesis on the future of the music industry, and how artists will continue to earn a living in the digital world. You can download all 152 pages of it here. Pour a scotch and dig in.
What Constitutes Music Plagiarism? The Sam Smith and Robin Thicke Trials – Everyone from Shakespeare to the Beatles to Zeppelin has been accused of stealing ideas from those that came before them. We are all influenced by the world around us, and songwriters are no exception. But where is the line drawn between being influenced by something, and plagiarizing it? As the Sam Smith and Robin Thicke cases exemplify, the answer is not an easy one.
The Lana Del Rey and Radiohead Plagiarism Case – Everything you need to know about the alleged plagiarism suit, including some interesting plot twists.
Touring the USA: What Canadian Musicians Need to Know – for all Canadian musicians planning on gigging in the USA, read this first before heading to the border
Why Every Band Needs a Band Agreement – without question the most important agreement a band/artist can sign is the Band Agreement. Read here to find out why.
When Should a Musician Create Their Own Publishing Company? – if you write your own songs and are generating revenue through SOCAN etc., it may be beneficial to create your own publishing company to make the most of this vital revenue stream. Read on…
When Should Musicians Incorporate? The Benefits of Incorporation for Musicians – the benefits of incorporating as an artist or band are huge, and you’ll see here, it is not a question of if you should incorporate, but when.
Who Can Use the Band Name if the Band Breaks Up? – band lineups change all the time, or bands break up. What happens to the band name? Who can use it going forward? Find your answers here…
The 3 Types of Publishing Agreements (and why they’re so important) – perhaps the most important concept for modern musicians to understand is music publishing…yet it is, without a doubt, the most misunderstood area of the music biz for most musicians. Read here to fix that.
Should Musicians Buy Facebook Likes? – more and more bands are buying their way to success on Facebook, Instragram, Twitter and YouTube…or so they think. As we see here, however, the harm that comes from buying Likes for your band’s page may far outweigh the perceived benefit.
Music Industry Collectives: Why Are They So Important? – I would guess that 90% of my musician clients are not getting paid as much as they should be from the use of their music. Part of the reason is that their songs aren’t adequately registered with the various collectives out there. The fact is, there is likely money sitting around somewhere that is owed to you. How do you claim this money? Read on…
What You Can and Can’t Do With a Song You’ve Co-Written – Most conflicts that I deal with in the music industry stem from songwriting disputes, whether it’s between two former band members, a one-off songwriting collaboration, or a producer/artist writing scenario. For many, the rights and responsibilities that come with co-writing are unclear. Until they read this post.
What Constitutes Songwriting? – The million-dollar questions in the music biz, and perhaps the most important issue I deal with as an entertainment lawyer. While most musicians know very well how to write songs (whether good or bad), not very many understand what actually constitutes songwriting, and how that songwriting should be shared amongst the writers. Read this now.
The Two Copyrights in a Song (or…The Most Important Concept in the Music Industry) – Most musicians I talk with are slightly confused by the different copyrights that exist in a song, and the different revenue streams that they generate. I don’t blame them: it can be confusing! This blog will provide some clarity.
Producer Royalties: How Should Your Music Producer Be Paid? – Most producers today require a percentage of sales from the album they produce for you, as a condition of their production. But how will this royalty be calculated? On the price paid by the consumer, or by the retailer? As we’ll see here, the distinction is crucial.
Should You Give Your Producer Songwriting Credit? – As record sales continue to drop, more and more producers are asking for songwriting points. Is it justified, or just a money grab in the face of dwindling record sales? Read here for more.
Everything You Need to Know Before Signing a Management Deal – Perhaps the most important agreement you will sign in your career is a Management Agreement. Managers have never played a more important role in the music industry than they do today. To understand the importance of this agreement, read this.
Should You Trademark Your Band Name? – When you think of bands like The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and KISS, their logos and brands are immediately identifiable and familiar. These brands also happen to be worth millions. Should you trademark your band name or logo? Read here for more.
What is an Artist Development Deal and Should You Sign One? – One of the most common and “new” agreements that has been coming across my desk is the Artist Development Deal. But as we see here, it’s not new, and could be the best or worst thing for your career.
How Your Music Makes Money (Part One) – The Sound Recording Copyright – The music industry has undergone some major changes in the last 15 years in terms of the revenues earned from sound recordings. You need to make the most of all potential revenue streams out there, and this is a good starting point.
How Your Music Makes Money (Part Two) – The Songwriting Copyright – Although revenues from the sale of sound recordings have decreased significantly in recent years, the revenues earned from the use of music has never been higher. Read here to learn more.
The Led Zeppelin Plagiarism Trial – Everything You Need to Know – The second high-profile plagiarism suit in as many years is about to go before a Los Angeles jury, and this time it involves one of the greatest rock songs ever written (Stairway to Heaven). There has been a lot said on both sides of the argument. For the straight goods, read here.
Why the Led Zeppelin Verdict Was Right, and What it Means to You – The verdict was unanimous: Led Zeppelin didn’t plagiarize the 1968 song “Taurus” by the band Spirit in the composition “Stairway To Heaven.” This came after a highly publicized trial that saw heated debate on both sides of the issue, as legal and music industry experts pontificated on whether copyright law should protect what boils down to a chord progression. Read here for more.
Do You Need Permission to Upload a Cover Song to YouTube? – In recent months, YouTube (and content owners) have cracked down on unauthorized cover songs posted on the video site. Which raises the oft-overlooked and oft-misunderstood question: do you need permission to upload a cover song to YouTube? Read here for the answer.
What Rights Do You Have in a Recording You Played On? – If you’ve co-written a song or performed on a sound recording, you have certain rights that can only be forfeited via writing. As we see here, this principle can cut both ways.
Music Placements: How to Get Your Music in Film & TV – Landing one of your songs in the right film or television program can be a game changer in your career. But how do you make your music standout in this highly competitive market? Read here to find out.
16 Things Every Touring Musician Should Ask Before Going on Tour – Whether you’re a seasoned touring musician or about to embark on your first tour, here are the things to ask before hitting the highway.
Should Musicians Self-Publish? – As a songwriter, you have likely heard talk of self-publishing your compositions. You’ve likely noticed, while perusing the fine print in the liner notes of your favorite albums, that nearly all major artists have created their own publishing company. Read here to find out why.
Should You Sign a Music Publishing Deal? – If you write your own songs, at some point in your career you will want to consider whether signing with a music publishing company makes sense. Read here to find out if it’s the right time…
Do Musicians Need a Record Label in 2018? – Modern musicians are handling more and more aspects of their own career. Do they need a record label in 2017?
5 Things to Look for in a Record Deal – Despite the downturn in recorded music revenues, record deals are still very important in the modern music biz. Read here to know what you’re looking for in a record deal.
Can You Copyright a Drumbeat? – In light of the recent plagiarism cases making headlines around the world (Lana Del Ray, Robin Thicke, Led Zeppelin), it felt like the right time to examine the matter of drumbeats. Read on, rock on.