In any area of the law the practitioner needs to become familiar with the laws, rules and regulations pertaining to the attorney’s specialty. And the practitioner not only needs to be familiar with the law but also to keep up with recent cases and other developments in his chosen area or areas of focus. The same is true in entertainment law. But in entertainment law the attorney also needs to keep up with what is going on in the entertainment industry that might affect the deals and agreements he is responsible for reviewing, negotiating and with respect to which he is advising his clients.
Knowledge of the industry, who the key people are, and current trends in contract deal points are important to the entertainment lawyer. Ultimately the goal is to be connected and gain information over lunch or a drink with key executives and others in the industry (including other lawyers). But for the new entertainment lawyer that may or may not be possible.
In Nashville it has been my experience that when a new entertainment attorney comes to town or enters the business they are generally welcomed by the establishment. Music lawyers are frequently in a position to bring new and worthy artists to the labels, publishers, performing rights organizations and others in the business. Plus when it comes time to negotiate deals with the lawyers it is good to have a relationship with them. Nevertheless, it still takes a long time to develop the type of relationship that will yield the current information that this post is about – the trends and current deal information.
Another important source of information for the entertainment lawyer is . . . the entertainment lawyer. In Nashville we have a very friendly entertainment law bar. We phone or email each other when we need to ask a question about the current state of affairs or when we are seeking advice on a legal issue that we might not have faced before. I share freely as do 90% of my colleagues here in Nashville. Don’t forget to make friends and join the entertainment law sections of your state and local bar associations.
Another important way to stay current is to subscribe to and read industry and legal publications. In Nashville it is important to subscribe to Music Row. I subscribe to Music Row and to Billboard and to a number of other entertainment and entertainment law related publications, both digital and hard copy. There are a number of online newsletters and publications that I monitor on a regular basis, including David Ross’ Secrets of the List.
If you are new to entertainment law you also should read all you can about the structure of the business. For more on this point read my blog post entitled “Learn the Business–Not Just the Law”.
In summary, you cannot rest on your laurels in the music law business. Things change and it is important to keep up and continue learning if you are going to be of ultimate service to your clients. Fortunately, there are many resources. I invite any other entertainment attorneys reading this to contribute by leaving your comments and suggestions.