Zeb Chandler here, I decided I’d make a daily video series with brief videos that share some insight into the workings of the entertainment industry, from a business law perspective. I’m an entertainment lawyer here, in Atlanta, Georgia and I mainly practice into music, film, and television industries, as well as some media related issues in technology, like licensing.
This video series are going to be short and straight into the point with one topic in each video, and each video should be less than a minute long so they fit the Instagram user guidelines.
This page currently includes a text version of the tips from June 2017, with each tip condensed and on occasion additional information provided like links, resources, or examples of topics mentioned. The tips are compiled here for reference, and so that tips that might seem vague or need additional information can be better explained and therefore be of more use to people looking for more insight into the entertainment industry. Included in the transcriptions are bold and or italic sections that have been added in to better explain the tip of the day.
June 7, 2017
Be professional from the very beginning of your music or entertainment career! Do basic steps to take care of your business so you are taking advantage of and protecting the hard work you are putting into creating material. It’s important you don’t start out in this business naive. You need to know when and where you submit music, when and where you demonstrate, publish, or share your work, your writings, your pilot, your concepts. Protect yourself by documenting presentations, following up verbal conversations with emails. This kind of documentation can help you prove that you own the material in question. And while you own a copyright at the moment you record it, but you have to be able to prove it—that you own it—and you also need to be able to prove the people you’ve given it to. So, take some basic steps, don’t be stupid, don’t be naive, think about it as a business from the very beginning if you want to be serious about a career in the entertainment business.
You can register copyrights and more at the US Copyright Office: Copyright.gov
June 8, 2017
Let’s briefly discuss the difference between a recording deal and a publishing deal.
In a record deal a label signs an artist to a contract and then develops that artist by recording their music, marketing it, publishing or distributing it, and monetizing it. On the other hand, a publishing deal is where an artist independently records music and markets the music, but partners with a label to distribute and monetize the music. So, the point is, you see, you don’t have to sit around and wait for a record deal. You can always invest in yourself, record more music, hone your craft, market your music, self-publish your music,(acting as your own label possibly) and building up a catalog which in turn increases your negotiation and leverage for when and if an opportunity to work with a major label comes along later. So, don’t sit around and waste time waiting for a deal. Build your brand, music, and business to attract a label to you in the meantime.
June 9, 2017
Many people come to me or an attorney when they’re starting a company. They understand the difference between an S-Corp a C-Corp, and a LLC. And often time with entertainment industry startups an LLC is the best vehicle with which to from the business initially. But let me talk about two additional steps besides just filing to form an LLC that help make an LLC a useful business tool. Those are an Operating Agreement and an EIN or an Employee ID Number. The EIN is very important: it sets the business apart from the founders, it makes it easier for multiple partners, it makes it easier to open up business checking accounts, and apply for lines of credit. And an Operating Agreement also operates similarly in that it helps dictate how you the LLC take investment, sell a piece of the company, expand the company, etc. So, don’t skip those two steps.
Get more information about LLC’s and Corporate Formation in Georgia at the Secretary of State’s Office Website: ecorp.sos.ga.gov
June 12, 2017
Let’s discuss the idea of an Attachment Agreement. The more you got your documents and agreements in order ahead of time, the better. The bigger the check, the easier it is for any investor to move forward with your project. So, an Attachment Agreement is essential early agreement to consider on a video, a pilot, on any visual production. A movie has to have the key talent attached. And so a show, like a reality TV show or a concept has to have all the talent attached to it before you go shop it. So, learn what an Attachment Agreement is, set them up with all your key actors, all your key talent, and get those things in order before you begin to share your concept or shop it around.
June 13, 2017
I want to give you guys a basic concept about contract negotiation. That is the idea: that it is easier to change the numbers in a deal versus the language and the clauses or wording in a deal.
As you can imagine, production companies and music labels work for a long time with their attorneys to create the language in a contract. And so, for them to go back to their attorneys, and change the language—it slows the process down and becomes expensive and cumbersome.
But on the other hand, it’s much easier for a counter party to change the numbers around. Most companys probably don’t need to consult an attorney as often with just numerical changes and they probably have more independent control of budget and project timeline type details than contract language. So, if you’re being offered a deal but you need it to be a little more favorable work on the numbers first: increase the money, decrease the timeline, change the number of deliverables but, again, this is not a substitute for getting representation. If you need help, hire a lawyer and good luck!
June 14, 2017
A lot of people reach out to me and ask “How can I get started in the music business without a deal?” and so, I want to talk about the need for an artist or a person to work with a distribution service in what is sometimes called an admin deal. An admin deal is a term for many types of deals but may be viewed as a variation of a publishing deal where you’re more in charge of the marketing and publishing process yourself, places to consider for theses services include tunecore, cdbaby, distrokid, as well as other services, and these are a place to start thinking about and looking into if you’re an artist with a catalog. You additionally want to get registered with Sound Exchange which is Royalty Collection Group for digital transmissions which means streaming. So, set yourself in these areas as you are getting started in the music business.
Look into registering with Soundexchange.com
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