I’m on the way to CMJ music marathon in NYC. CMJ and other similar music events are good barometers for the industry as whole. Who will be the next band? What are the labels going to do know? How has piracy effected music sales? Etc. Etc.
In the past this indie music conference and pseudo music festival has proven to be a great place to find new music talent and network with creative industry types. This year, the line up is more representative of the changing music scene: a lot of bands that are great, but that you probably haven’t heard of yet. The Antlers, Pitbull, Japanroids and Das Rascist are recognizable names to those in the know and will hopefully CMJ will take them and the hundreds of other bands to the next level.
The networking that had gone on in the past was between labels, pr firms, distributors and radio folks. This year, many of those people are looking for jobs. Perhaps CMJ will have a job fair day?
I’m looking forward to seeing if the unprecedented ease of getting music to the masses (i.e. the Internet) has truly watered down the musical talent or if it has afforded those that never would have had the opportunity to perform in the past to have their talent seen and heard. I’m obviously hoping for the latter. I’m also curious to see what pearls of wisdom the overly entrenched New York industry types plan on sharing at the various panels. My prediction this year is that a lot of the label types have new jobs with smaller (both in size and revenue) companies. So, chances are that the theme will be battling piracy and identifying new ways of getting paid for making music.
We shall see and I’ll report back after my trip.
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION OF THE WEEK:
Speaking of new ways of getting music to the masses in a creative way, check out my friend Whatzisface’s newest project (click the link below). In the past hip hop artists have been found via the mixtape. Mixtapes were and still are to a large extent, full length albums without a particular theme or concept. They are given away for free usually on a burned cd or now, via myspace download. The hope is the same: someone with decision making power and a budget will listen and choose to develop the artist. Why not change it up? Why not re-invent the mixtape so that people look forward to it like a new album release? Add a concept to it. Make it funny and release it in a cool way. That’s what ‘face has done. Here is one of his latest installments in the White Chocolate and… series. Enjoy.
This phrase, not used very often by your humble author, precisely captures the first ever Lawyer4musicians.com Showcase which coincided with SXSW in Austin, TX. I will have a full run down of how awesome it was but I wanted to thank everyone:
Austin Promoter: Sun Jue.
The Venue: Momo’s (huge shout out to Kate);
My law partner: Brian Troglia (nice job on security);
And Obviously the Talented Musicians who collectively killed it all day: DJ Clinton Sparks; Whatzisface; French Horn Rebellion, Hey Champ; Kidz in the Hall, Pac Div and The Cool Kids. Special thanks to Fatlip who stuck around all day on the 1s and 2s; amazing.
Stay tuned for more updates with pictures and video from the event.
I’m sure I missed some people, so thanks to those I missed.
Thanks to Larry from http://www.mashfest.com for the first video.
Go to the this page for a review posted by Vapors.
The lineup is now set (well, pretty much set, we may still add some more acts) for the Lawyer 4 Independent Music Showcase. Kidz in the Hall will be rounding out the already awesome lineup.
In addition to the Kidz we are lucky to have Fatlip, Hey Champ, French Horn Rebellion, Whatzisface and DJ White Shadow. All of these artists are at different stages in their careers but none of them could have gotten to where they are without the proper team around them. So the collective team will showcase the collective talent.
If you are going to be down in Austin, you gotta come by the show. Let me know if you need more info.
Recently I attended the Q-Tip and Cool Kids concert at House of Blues. During a bumping version of Bointa Appelbaum, my friend Aaron, taking a brief break from bobbing his head off-beat, asked me how can Q-Tip play this song without the rest of Tribe? Relishing the opportunity to spread my music and law knowledge I began explaining to him how copyrights work and wondering aloud whether a Tribe Called Quest had a band member agreement. Aaron, much like most people I talk to about the law, immediately glazed over and went back to doing his version of the electric slide.
I figure, however, if you are reading this blog, you may want to know how Q-Tip was able to publicly perform some of Tribe’s greatest hits or how Roger Waters could sing Dark Side of the Moon or how Phil Lesh and friends can delight fields of the unshowered with Sugar Magnolia. These artists have the ability to dig deep into their former band’s repertoire for several reasons.
Most of us have been to a concert where the headliner covered another song. Bands can play other bands material at a concert so long as they register the performance (oftentimes after the fact) with ASCAP, BMI or SEASAC. But the Q-tip situation is a bit different. Q-Tip was treating the crowd to set full of classic songs made famous by his former group. If Phife Dawg was on tour, could he ask if he “Can Kick It” (click on the link to see who holds the copyright)?
The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends on how organized the band was. If they had a band member agreement (see https://lawyer4musicians.com/2008/08/ for more about band member agreements) it undoubtedly contained provisions for an eventual band break up. Issues that may seem unnecessary today may have a huge impact later. A leaving member or termination provision will have an invaluable effect on how your band’s brand is treated after the life the of the band is over. If properly written, the termination provision will ensure that the band’s name and its value are not diluted. It will set out who can use the songs, who can tour under the band’s name and who can re-issue recordings.
Think of it this way: Smashing Pumpkins break up (for like the 5th time) but James Iha and Billy Corgan want to tour with new members using the Smashing Pumpkins band name and the Pumpkins’ catalog of music. If there is no agreement between the members of the Pumpkins, and both try to tour under that name, they will both most likely fail or at least end up in court fighting for the right to use the name and songs.
For independent artists that are not quite at the band member agreement phase there are steps to take to ensure that this type of confusion and conflict do not occur. First, just talk to your band mates about it; get a sense for where everyone is on the issue of song ownership. Second, register your copyrights in your recordings. The copyright registration will allow you to designate the author of each song you register. That way, if there is a debate down the road you can at least point to the copyright to show who owns what and who has to get permission from whom before a song is performed or recorded. Third, trademark your band name. The trademark registration will allow you to claim ownership of your band name and logo. Finally, suck it up and put everything in writing. Keep in mind your first agreement can be amended and modified as many times as you want.
SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION OF THE WEEK: WHATZISFACE