Independent Artists Need Legal Assistance Too!

Jacks and Jills of all Trades

This topic is very important to me especially being an independent artist myself. Often I have found that many independent artists undervalue the necessity of having their business and legal issues in order. I understand, especially in my own experience, how much of the art and business that we handle on our own. We are responsible for so many of the aspects of creation, marketing, promotion, distribution among living our own lives, that getting contracts done or incorporating our companies may be the last thing on our minds. However, these items are very important to the building and maintenance of our careers.

For example, incorporating your business is an integral step in limiting your personal liability if someone files a lawsuit against you. This way your personal assets cannot be attached to the lawsuit. In addition, certain qualified business expenses that you are incurring in the creation of your art can be written off on your business’s taxes.

Resources are Available

Another concern is access to resources and the ability to afford legal assistance as an independent artist. However, there are attorneys such as myself that are willing to work with talented artists at affordable prices. Even further there are various organizations including the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (http://www.vlany.org/) existing in many major cities that will provide legal assistance to artists at little or no cost.

I also just recently found a cool website called Know the music biz (knowthemusicbiz.com) that contains many informative articles and forums in reference to the music industry.

Act Sooner to Save from Headaches Later

It is important to be proactive and handle certain business and legal items in advance, it will save you so much in the long run. I can tell you from my experience of neglecting certain matters that took so much time after the fact to fix. However, had I just taken the time to handle the issue in the beginning things would have been much smoother.

An example of this is waiting on filing your trademark. I have personally seen an artist that had been using his name for years, and finally decided to register the trademark. Unfortunately,his registration was denied because someone else had registered it just one month prior. Even further, the prior registrant had only been using the name for less than a year.  There are ways, albeit costly, to challenge this, but in the end it truly is a race to the trademark office to register your marks. Whoever gets their registration in first will most likely win.

Another quick example are songwriter split sheets. Whenever you collaborate with an artist or producer have a split sheet with you, so that the parties can agree to the percentages of ownership for the song and sign it right then and there. This saves you significant headaches letter in trying to determine who owns what.

Be Careful to Ensure you Have Competent Assistance

I have heard many stories of people who will just pull a contract off of the internet and use that for their deals. But it is important to ensure that this contract is an adequate legal document that truly protects your rights. There are a lot of half-rate contracts online so if you can, please have an attorney review it or draft you an agreement.

Any Questions Reach Out

I know this is very quick and brief overview, but I really wanted to express the importance of handling business from the start. If we want to create long-lasting and lucrative careers in the entertainment industry, it must be treated as a business as well. If you have any questions feel free to hit me up at theartoflaw.info@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

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