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Obtaining Counsel

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by wafuradio, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. wafuradio

    wafuradio Guest

    I have been working with a guy for the past 4 years that has been trying to shop my material for me. I do not have a signed contract with him, and have never paid him a dime to do any work for me. The only thing he has ever asked me to do is create the press kits that he sends out for me when an opportunity comes up.

    He has come up with an offer from a company called Lavista Records (http://www.lavistarecords.com) for a P&D Deal with marketing and promotion.

    My questions are:
    1. I need to find an attorney, how do i go about locating one that is reputable, knowledgeable and someone i can trust? Are there specific questions i should ask them before determining that this is the person i want to work with? I trust no one, can i trust the attorney?

    2. What could i possibly expect to pay to have someone go over this deal?

    3. I've done ALOT of work on my own. I have several songs on Nickelodeon for which I actually make money on... I've busted my balls to make this connection; I want to protect that.

    4. Lavista Records is a R&B, HipHop, Gospel label. I am a girl doing alternative pop rock (like alanis meets sheryl crow) Can this label really help me?

    5. Is it possible for an artist to even look at contract and make a decision if this is something I should take to an attorney?

    6. I have spoken with the owner of Lavista Records and it sounds like a decent guy that has a plan, but honestly, i am just a girl that plays guitar, in the end i don't know a damn thing. he is talking about digital distribution in europe and asia, marketing and promotion, doing a video. I am really out of my league on this.
    He has told me that he will send a contract for review and asked me to send him an email with my full legal name, stage name, address and birth date so that information can be filled in. Is this customary? Can he send the contract without that information?

    7. Additionally, i know i have to work out some deal with the guy that has been shopping for me.

    This music business is horrifying.

    Thanks in advance.
    Lisa
     
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    A music attourney will be vital at this point and can assertain the answers to all of these questions.

    I know that there is a list somewhere on the net...I dont have the URL to it. It would seem to be a bit of research is at hand for you. Look at other artists in the same genre as you . You can find out who they use as counsel and make your connections in this way. This is all pretty much public record.

    Perhaps someone else on here can direct you a bit more.

    The Attourney is essential before you sign anything....Good Luck
     
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You definitely want an attorney who specializes in the music business. Talk to other artists who are signed and see who they use. If you know other artists who have signed with your prospective label, get in touch with them.

    Above all start reading and educating yourself about this. (Passman's book is a good start. It doesn't cover as much as he claims, but it is easy to read and is correct on the subjects that I know about.) If you think of yourself as "just a girl with a guitar" you will be treated like one. Take an interest in the business end and learn how it works. It's complicated, but not really that hard. (None of these people running labels are Nobel prize winners.) Read, take your time, ask questions, listen, make sure they know that you want to understand what is going on.
     
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    AND...

    Impressive....a girl with balls visits our forums... :shock: :lol:

    Just kidding...

    So, I agree, an attorney is essential at this point.

    One thing to bear in mind, European copyrights and US copyrights are quite different and there is often little protection for American artists' rights overseas.

    I have a colleague who has been wrapped up in court battles for quite some time since her song (which didn't do all that well here in the US) was bastardized into a dance track in Europe and topped the charts. She saw NO money or royalties for her work and has spent a LOT of money in travel and court fees to no avail!

    BTW -
    I like the website and I really like the clips.

    Good luck!
     
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I am not a lawyer, but I dont' think giving this information commits you in any way. This is certainly something you can ask any lawyer to reassure you.

    Good time to sit down with him (I think you are buying lunch) thank him, and see what he has been doing in the past and is looking for in the future. He may be getting a "finders fee" or other benefits for Lavista. (If so, look for it coming out of your end when you get the contract.) He may want to manage you. (If he does, the fact that he didn't work out an clear arrangement in advance would bother me. But he did come up with an offer so that's a big plug in his favor.) Whatever he wants, tell him you are getting a lawyer and want to talk to him or her before making any agreements. Make the point that you want to be fair, but you don't know enough about what is going on to know what fair is. If you are going to make a deal with him that lasts for more than a week it should be in writing, and it will take a lot of work to hash out. The work will be worth it in the end.
     
  6. anxious

    anxious Guest

    I would suggest you contact Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York. They should be able to get you going with lots of useful material and perhaps even a free/cheap consultation.

    -k

    http://kkantor.spaces.live.com
     
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Lots of good suggestions as usual.

    Getting a good lawyer is essential. I got mine thought the person that does my book keeping and he is GREAT!

    Ask around. If a certain name pops ups more that normal he or she may be the person you are looking for.

    Any matters between client and attorney are considered privileges and cannot be discussed with third parties without your consent.

    If you find a good lawyer hold on to him or her and they are hard to find. If you get one that you don't trust or have doubts about find another one quickly.

    Most Lawyers today charge by the hour and not the job so....it largely depends on how efficient they are as to how much you will be charged. If you go to someone that is in the "business" of music they probably will have all the forms and contracts on their computers and will only have to take the boilerplate material and add your name and other information. If you go to the General Practice lawyer he or she may have to start at the bottom and figure out a lot of things before they can advise you. General Practice lawyers are usually cheaper than music industry lawyers but may not have the wherewithal to deal with music contracts. I took a music contract to my General Practice lawyer and after reading it said "you got to be kidding me does anyone in their right mind sign these?" There are more rights granted to the record company than to you. After he crossed off all the stuff that should not have been there I think he had about three paragraphs left for me to sign/

    Best of luck and if you find a good lawyer be sure to let others know about him or her.
     
  8. wafuradio

    wafuradio Guest

    gentlemen,

    thank you all for your input and great suggestions.

    cucco: thanks for checking out my site/stuff
    anxious: i will contact http://www.vlany.org/, great idea!

    after speaking with a contract attorney here at my office, i decided to only forward my legal and stage name. Since this is just the discovery phase of the relationship, no further information is needed at this point.

    my concern as a computer systems admin and student majoring in
    information management & technology is that supplying anyone with a legal name, address and birth date is a very powerful combination.

    Combine this information with a disgruntled employee, intern, ex-lover or friend of the owner of a prospective label and you have the tools for identity theft. The only thing more horrifying then the music business, is the plight of data security/integrity.

    i will of course begin immediately looking for a music attorney while I wait for the contract.
    and
    i will post any other information that may help this thread as it comes available to me.
    thanks again!
     

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