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Music Lawyer’s Role in the Entertainment Industry

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A Music Lawyer’s Role in the Entertainment Industry

Almost all aspects of the entertainment industry incorporate music in some form. Television shows, full-length motion pictures, commercials, concerts, sporting events, and podcasts all use music to evoke emotion or drive a plot element. But incorporating music into these important platforms is not a simple process.

Producing music and monetizing it requires extensive commercial agreements, and this is where the entertainment lawyers San Francisco relies on come into play. Your lawyer will work to ensure that you receive appropriate compensation for your contributions and that your rights remain protected.



Music law affects musicians, composers, songwriters, recording studios, music publishers, producers, artist management and agencies, merchandising companies, advertising executives, promoters, and filmmakers. The Hollywood Lawyer (THL), a leading law firm in the entertainment and media industry, regularly represents clients across all commercial aspects of music production and monetization.

Common Legal Agreements in the Music Industry

The music lawyer San Francisco trusts partners with creative talent and industry professionals across the entire lifecycle of commercial entertainment agreements. At THL, below are some examples of the types of music contracts on which our lawyers advise.

Recording and Publishing Agreements

Recording agreements state the terms of the contractual relationship between an artist and the label that will produce their sound recordings. Common terms within a recording agreement include the length of time the contract will be in effect, how many songs or albums it will cover, the percentage of royalties to which the artist would be entitled for sales, expenses both parties may incur, and both parties’ responsibilities when the contract is in effect. At THL, we can help you determine whether a proposed recording or publishing agreement will be beneficial for you in the long run, regardless of whether you are on the artist side or the studio side.

Side-Artist Agreements

Side-artist agreements offer an opportunity for artists to collaborate. Musicians enter into side-artist agreements when they wish to incorporate another creative mind into their final product. For example, if a heavy metal band needs a classical musician to play a unique role in one of its songs, the band may contract with a violinist. However, both parties will want to be clear on how they will handle royalties, copyright, and payments. Your lawyer will incorporate those items into the side-artist agreement, as well as anything relevant to making sure that the side artist’s participation would not cause a breach in any other contracts to which they are a party.

Producer Agreements

A music producer agreement usually defines the contractual relationship between an artist and a producer. A producer is responsible for overseeing how a song or an album is created and ensuring that the final product is commercially viable. Some of the duties include logistics for recording, song order and choice for an album, and making decisions relating to talent — producers wear many hats. Like the recording and publishing agreement, this kind of contract will cover royalties, expenses, and the parties’ designated responsibilities.

Management and Agency Representation Agreements

In the music industry, managers and agencies satisfy one of the most important functions for an artist: advancing their career. A manager or agency is an artist’s primary liaison between them and record labels. In most cases, a manager or agency will work on commission and will receive a percentage of the artist’s gross income in the entertainment industry. Management and agency representation agreements generally will include the percentage of the manager’s or agency’s cut and the length of the engagement.

Merchandising, Touring, and Appearance Agreements

Merchandising, touring, and appearances are some of the most important ways a musician can earn money. The entertainment lawyers San Francisco trusts at THL know how to ensure their clients’ interests remain protected in these types of contracts, which usually have many players involved. These types of contracts will include terms that involve licensing an artist’s logo and likeness to include on products, venue commissions and fees for selling merchandise on-site at events, profit splits among the artist and vendors, whether the musician will have final approval over merchandise, the number of tour appearances, and how long the agreement will last.

Music Licensing Agreements

Music licensing agreements grant a third party — such as a filmmaker, television show producer, or video game creator — a license to use an artist’s music within the piece of work they are creating. These licensing agreements dictate the terms of use for the previously created song, as well as the compensation to which the artist is entitled. In most cases, the artist and third party will need to negotiate separate licensing agreements for the music recording and the song itself.

Contact Our Music Lawyers Today

If you are an artist or any other type of music industry professional, it is important to be sure that the contracts you enter protect your commercial and creative interests. To learn more about how THC can help you, contact us at (323) 300-4184 to schedule a free consultation.

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