The fifth edition of newly published The Musician’s Bsiness and Legal Guide addresses major changes in the industry during the last ten years. Here is editor Mark Halloran’s ‘Preface.” Every musician and music business professional should have this book. http://amzn.to/2nDYy7A
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“We are proud to welcome you back to our updated and expanded book. This Fifth Edition embodies the most thorough and far-reaching changes in our history. Since our last edition a decade ago we have witnessed sea changes in the music business we could never have imagined. First, the size, power and profitability of the major record labels have all declined. Second, two new platforms for breaking artists, YouTube and American Idol-type TV vocal competition shows, have broken onto the scene. Third, we have seen the rise (and recent downward slide) of digital downloads (e.g., iTunes). Fourth, we have seen the rise of subscription radio services (Spotify and Pandora, for example), which feature “curated” (chosen) music which can satisfy virtually any tonal palette. Fifth, we have witnessed the rise of electronic dance music (EDM) and music festivals.
At the same time as this seismic shift, more music is being created and listened to than ever in the history of humankind. And there are opportunities to create and spread your music even if you are not signed to a label, or win The Voice. You fledgling indie artists out there should note the following phenomena that work in your favor:
1. You no longer need a recording studio with expensive gear and an audio engineer to make a great sounding recording.
2. You can record a video of you performing your song for virtually nothing.
3. Rather than relying on a big record company, you can raise funds on Kickstarter, RocketHub, and Indiegogo for your recordings, videos, and tours.
4. You can use social media (a website is a must) and your email list (required) to build and motivate your fanbase.
5. You can upload your videos and recordings for free on video websites such as YouTube, which has become the #1 search engine for music. It’s also the preferred listening platform for younger fans, who like that the videos are also easily shareable via social media.
This is essentially a new book given that all articles have been updated, and we have added seven completely new articles (please don’t throw away your old editions!): “YouTube Music,” “TV Talent Competitions: The Ghost of American Idol,” “Social Media Law for Musicians,” “Independent Record Labels and Record Deals,” “Recording and Distribution Contracts with Independent Labels,” “Producer Agreements are Stupid,” and “How 360 Deals Became Necessary and How To Negotiate Them.”
Even with all the changes in the music business as well as in this Fifth Edition, the basic lessons from the First Edition still apply, now more than ever. At some point in your professional music career, you will learn that there are legal questions implicit in almost everything you do. Whether you write, record, perform, or sell a song, your actions give rise to rights and obligations that you should consider. The best time to learn is now.
The most fundamental purpose of this book is to demystify the increasingly complex music business, and what many consider an indecipherable body of law that shapes it. And
to help you “make it” by explaining, as best we can, how the music industry and the laws that govern it work. To maximize
the utility of the book we have tried to make our information comprehensible to musicians and non-musicians alike, and have avoided presupposing a lot of knowledge on your part.
As useful as we trust this book is, we feel compelled to bring a few warnings to your attention. First, no one who has become
a music “star” has done so without obtaining competent help as they built their career—so should you. Talent agents, personal managers, lawyers, and business managers are all trained to guide you as you ascend your music career ladder. Naturally
their expertise costs money, but their cost is more palatable if
you consider that these expenses are not really costs but rather
an investment in your career. Next, the chapters are primarily designed to indentify legal issues and to give specific solutions that might be tailored to your specific situation. If you have a legal problem, do not rely on the information contained in this book; see an attorney. The chapters in this book that address legal issues are not the law, but merely describe legal applications, in general terms, for the music industry.
One final note—although this book is a useful tool, as a musician you should write music, not contracts. Unless you devote an appropriate amount of your time and energy to developing and exploiting your talent, this book doesn’t matter. Make it matter.
Mark Halloran, Esq.