Getting Your Business Chops Together

The Musician's Business & Legal Guide Edited & Compiled, Mark Halloran

(Beverly Hills Bar Association Committee for the Arts)

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

(ISBN 0-13-605585-O, 454 pages)

By Lee Bash

If you ever intend to make any kind of substantial income from music, you have three choices.

a. You can ignore the business/legal aspects of the business in the hope you won't get hurt. (This is a foolish risk and, even if you don't know it, you're going to suffer some losses as a result of this decision.)

b. You can hire a legal consultant who works closely with the music business. (Or, if you're really lucky, you may know someone who will even do it for free, but understand unless they specialize, they are not likely to understand the finer details and subtleties of this area of business/law.)

c. You can purchase a handy-dandy, fairly inexpensive, comprehensive, up-to-date and simple-to-understand book whose title, "The Musician's Business & Legal Guide," could easily have been subtitled "Everything You're Ever Likely to Need to Know" about this vital topic. If the book sounds like essential reading (or at least, essential possessing), it is and if there's any problem with investing in this book, it's that you're going to need updated versions every five or six years. But that's a simple enough expediency and, considering the alternatives. I think you'll agree, it's still a bargain. So, let's examine why this book is so indispensable for almost all of you.

"The Musician's Business & Legal Guide" has assembled an impressive panel of experts to write about every conceivable topic relating to the legal/business aspects of music. It is written with the stated objective of being comprehensible for all readers without being patronizing in tone and I would concur in this, they have clearly succeeded. If you're one ose who are easily intimidated with these kinds of topics, you are going to find this book accessible, helpful and useful.

The panel of writers are all experts in their fields so that getting this book is like hiring a blue-ribbon group of consultants. The topics they discuss are diverse yet comprehensive there's virtually no area of interest in music you may have that isn't covered in this book. Normally, I would take this opportunity to describe some of the contents and highlights of the book, but the most effective strategy I can use in this instance is to share an outline of the book's chapters and to reassure you that each segment is a real gem.

I. Getting Started: Music as a Business

A. Entertainment Group Names: Selection and Protection

B.Business Entities

C. How to Set up a Money Deal D. Music Attorneys

II. Protecting Your Compositions

A. Copyrights: The Law and You

B. Copyright Infringement

III. Live Performance

A. Club Contracts

B. Showcasing

C. On the Road: A Primer for Touring Musicians

D. Publicity: There's Never Enough

IV. Managers and Agents

A. What Does a Manager Do?

B. Analysis of a Personal Management Agreement

C. Talent Agencies

D. Business Managers

V. Music Organizations

A. Music Unions

B. Performing Rights Organizations: An Overview


VI. Recording Agreements

A. Practical Aspects to Securing a Recording Contract

B. Recording and Distribution Contracts with Independent Labels

C. Analysis of a Recording Contract

D. How to Read and Evaluate Your Artist Royalty Statements

VII. Music Publishing

A. Music Publishing

B. Analysis of a Single-Song Agreement

C. Analysis of an Exclusive Term Songwriter Agreement

D. Music Clearance: The Clearing House, Ltd.

VIII. Film, Television, Jingle Music and Music Merchandising

A. Music Licensing for Television and film: A Perspective for Songwriters

B. Pop Soundtrack Music for film

C. Analysis of a Jingle Contract

D. Merchandising in the Music Industry

IX. The End

A. Group Breakups

Not only is this outline of the chapters comprehensive, but each topic is carefully supported with thorough coverage. This means that each chapter has further headings which relate to the chapter in order to cover every imaginable aspect of the material. If you don't see anything in this list that already piques your interest and makes you want to know more about at lease one of the topics, you probably won't feel that you need this book. But, in most instances, this handy resource is likely to provide you with numerous answers and there's a strong likelihood that it's also going to save you money along the way.

(Dr. Bash is Chair of the Department 0ffine & Performing Arts at Bellarmine College.)