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A good music lawyer Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 22nd December 2010
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

A good music lawyer

My band (not the band in my sig, a REAL band) has been offered a 2 album world wide management deal. It basically organises international tours supports and shops your album to the record labels. We have already had a revision of the contract which halves the money the management company earns, and we have shown it to a few guys who have signed similar contracts and everyone thinks now the management gets a smaller cut that we have secured a good deal. Our lead guitarist wants to play it safe and use a music lawyer.

The lawyer wants $500 to look at the contract. That to me feels a bit steep, it isn't even an album deal, it is a management deal with the intention of finding us album and tour deals. Once we get tour offers and album deal offers (hopefully) there will be more contracts to pay lawyers to look at. There could be lots of album deals and we can only sign one, I'm afraid this could end up costing several thousand. Only myself and the lead guitarist have money spare, I know it will be him and myself paying all the money.

Anybody got experience/advice? Do you think we even need a lawyer who lives in our country? Can anybody suggest a music lawyer for ongoing work that won't charge $500 just to read a contract and tell us if it's good? Or is that really what it costs?

ps. apparently $500 is a discounted price too
Old 22nd December 2010
  #2
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thats cheap
Old 22nd December 2010
  #3
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Seems cheap to me too. I'd question the value of it at that low cost, depending on how many pages/discussions we are expecting.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #4
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redrue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
Seems cheap to me too. I'd question the value of it at that low cost, depending on how many pages/discussions we are expecting.
I agree.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #5
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A good music lawyer

Quote:
Originally Posted by andonwego
thats cheap
That's right!
Old 22nd December 2010
  #6
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slaves666's Avatar
A good music lawyer

Does the management have a good track record, have they secured deals for other bands?

Hire the lawyer and make sure you pay attention to any "sunset clause" which is really the 2nd most important thing after their %.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

So it is cheap. Well at least someone is earning money from the music industry. There is no way we can afford any ongoing lawyer fees to put these albums out if that is cheap. Paying lots of money to be a support band? That just blows. Once we get these tours I doubt there will be money for us, we may even have to pay air fares, how do people do this?

I would say the cost of this album is past $50,000, that may be small for lots of you, but for an Aussie metal band that is ridiculous. And we need to get an album offer that pays off the old label we are in debt to, so we need a big label to sign us or we can't afford to be signed. Sorry to whine, but this industry is chewing me up and spitting me out broke and jaded
Old 22nd December 2010
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slaves666 View Post
Does the management have a good track record, have they secured deals for other bands?

Hire the lawyer and make sure you pay attention to any "sunset clause" which is really the 2nd most important thing after their %.

They have a great track record concerning tours, couple of bands got big long Dream Theater supports, a few other big rock/metal names.

What is a sunset clause?

Thanks for the response
Old 22nd December 2010
  #9
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Knox's Avatar
 

. . that is cheap, IF he knows what he is doing! My attorney in NYC charges a good bit more then that per hour. But we have been together (and are friends) since the 70s, so I certainly don't have to pay that. The key is IF the person knows what they are doing . . they will make that $500 back for you a zillion times over by looking after yer arse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Ark View Post
The lawyer wants $500 to look at the contract.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #10
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cinealta's Avatar
 

Dirt cheap. My real estate attorney charges $375/hr just to get bad tenants out.

Really can't imagine a good entertainment attorney, with major label signed clients, AND with proficient enough knowledge so that their client doesn't get burned and locked into unfair contract terms, being less than $500/hr.

Here are the main points to consider for a Management contract:

1) Role of management?
2) Commission (%, gross earnings basis)?
3) Compensation calculation (exclusions, deductions)?
4) Terms (duration, minimum earnings)?
5) Earnings after term?
6) Sunset clauses (ending commissions)?
7) "Key" manager clause (key man or MGMT firm)?
8) Double commissions (band is corporation?)?
9) Power of Attorney?
10) Ancillary fees?
11) Qualification (CPA, JD, gopher etc)?
12) Conflict of interest (represents band and label and/or promoter)?

Your attorney should know these cold.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #11
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Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Ark View Post
Paying lots of money to be a support band? That just blows. Once we get these tours I doubt there will be money for us, we may even have to pay air fares, how do people do this?
Yep - it totally blows... BUT... if you do well, then its an "investment" in your future.

Like Knox mentioned - a good entertainment attorney is over $500/hr. [at least mine is in NY] and the money he's made / saved / and gotten me paid over the years has been more than totally worth the expense.

The reality is that until you can earn more than it costs your business [like every other "start up" business in the world] is going to require a capital investment -- if you think the investment might be justified by the return of making that investment, then invest in the business. If you don't think you can earn a return on that investment -- then don't make the investment.

Investing in a business, be it a band or a donut shop is about risk vs. reward. A donut shop is a safer investment than a band -- but if the band "hits" [even with a niche audience] then the return on that investment is going to be far greater than if you had invested in a donut shop... and if the band doesn't "hit" then you're out the money [much like if the guy with the donut shop doesn't sell enough donuts he's out of business as well].

I hope you guys make it to the max -- but the only way to get there is to build a "fan base" - and the only way to do that is by investing in your business to get your product in front of potential fans [we like to call them "an audience" - but they're really "target consumers"]

Peace.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Yep - it totally blows... BUT... if you do well, then its an "investment" in your future.

Like Knox mentioned - a good entertainment attorney is over $500/hr. [at least mine is in NY] and the money he's made / saved / and gotten me paid over the years has been more than totally worth the expense.

The reality is that until you can earn more than it costs your business [like every other "start up" business in the world] is going to require a capital investment -- if you think the investment might be justified by the return of making that investment, then invest in the business. If you don't think you can earn a return on that investment -- then don't make the investment.

Investing in a business, be it a band or a donut shop is about risk vs. reward. A donut shop is a safer investment than a band -- but if the band "hits" [even with a niche audience] then the return on that investment is going to be far greater than if you had invested in a donut shop... and if the band doesn't "hit" then you're out the money [much like if the guy with the donut shop doesn't sell enough donuts he's out of business as well].

I hope you guys make it to the max -- but the only way to get there is to build a "fan base" - and the only way to do that is by investing in your business to get your product in front of potential fans [we like to call them "an audience" - but they're really "target consumers"]

Peace.
Yep ! True words of wisdom ! Remember, even though the industry as a whole is going through some 'growing pains', this is still big business and if you intend on winning hard you have to play hard, calculate well, discern your allies and foes and know which battles to win and to lose.

Quibbling over $500.00 for attorney's fees (if the attorney is worth his or her weight in salt, are go getters, and believe in you and your organization, not just your music) is definitely not a winning strategy, especially from the strategic standpoint that you are presently at.

The industry in many senses is like a game of high rollers. If you come to play, you have to play to win and not merely play to get in - you'll never get 'comp'd' if you don't spend ! Right now most groups in your position are looking for someone to invest in them, either monetarily or otherwise but once again..... the industry is a business not a hand out line. When you garner an attorney's services, you are entering into a business relationship with them. That said, ask yourself the question: Is this attorney the type of person I want to invest in ? Your fees are an investment in the attorneys ability to do what he or she needs to do in your behalf and do it well.

Remember, you've paid more for things you don't even remember and if the deal that your eye is on is real, paying $500.00 to walk you safely into a deal is about the amount you'd pay for a good business lunch at Mr Chow !

Think of it this way: If you knew that this attorney could both decipher and negotiate any agreement you needed he or she to look over and your attorney was a real 'hustler' so to speak in your behalf and believed in you and the music and could negotiate you through to some very sweet opportunities, would you and your band be willing to sell your gear to work with someone of that stature ? If the answer is yes, and your attorney is that person, then $500.00 is too silly to even bring up. If the answer is no, then you are not ready for prime-time and a donut shop may be a more viable venture for you.


That may be a little hard-core, but believe me the industry is worse - lol !

Best on your venture

- KS
Old 22nd December 2010
  #13
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Wow - there have been some great comments on this board. OP - you would be wise to listen and pay heed to the warnings.

This one comment you made concerns me, OP:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Ark View Post
...I would say the cost of this album is past $50,000... And we need to get an album offer that pays off the old label we are in debt to, so we need a big label to sign us or we can't afford to be signed. Sorry to whine, but this industry is chewing me up and spitting me out broke and jaded
It sounds like you need serious help and $500 for contract review just isn't going to likely cover the back-and-forth that goes with contract negotiations. You've spent $50k - a lot of money no matter who you are - but now is not the time to cheap out; you don't want to lose important rights now just because you wanted to save on attorney fees.

If it were me, I'd go attorney shopping. I'd ask around with other musicians and get the names of 2-4 major players. I'd then go meet with each of them and conduct interviews. I'd be paying close attention to the right things but, at the same time, I'd be hoping that one of them might either want to become an investor or could lead me to investors. Good attorneys deal with people in the entertainment business daily so you can hope for a little help. If nothing else, look for introductions to someone else so that you network your way through the attorney into his/her other clients. Would it be worth it to pay $1500 for the contract review if you (a) got amazing advice, (b) saved $25000 in fees/royalties because you went with a pro, and then (c) were introduced to a venue booking agent who handles South America and wants you guys to tour at a massive pay scale? That's the upside to investing in yourself.

And the right attorney should be able to explain a sunset clause to you. Google it if you don't know it. If your $500 lawyer can't explain it well to you then you definitely need a new layer.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #14
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Electric Sugar's Avatar
Better call Saul!
Old 22nd December 2010
  #15
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doncaparker's Avatar
 

First, you really need a lawyer who will only be representing you in this. Making these deals without a lawyer who has loyalty only to you is a mistake. Getting some who knows what they are doing, and using those skills to look out just for you, is the whole point.

Second, forget worrying about how much lawyers cost. Lawyers are expensive. That's not going to change. You need one, so you pay the money, whatever the money is.

Third (and maybe most important), you need to hire the RIGHT KIND of lawyer. Lawyers all specialize these days. You need a lawyer who has a lot of experience in the music industry. Go wherever you have to go and pay whatever you have to pay to get one of these lawyers. Don't use your cousin's roommate's sister because she is less expensive. Get a lawyer who knows and understands this industry as it works right now.

If you follow those rules, you will get value for what you pay, even though it will feel like a lot of money.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #16
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Just as a quick aside to those in American ..

The advertised rate for one of the few top Australian Music Lawyers in Australia is between $300 to $450 per hour. Most of these people have established contacts and channels.

Some of the younger lower tier Lawyers are between the $150 to $250 per hour mark. Ironically, most of the younger guys nowadays really excel in digital rights/new media strategies, but most need to work under the umbrella of one of the larger music lawyers to build a contact and client base.

Perusal of a contract is usually around the $1,000 mark so $500 is cheap. But only if the lawyer in question is worth it, otherwise it's money wasted.

Dude, I've sent you a PM.

Cheers RAy.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

A big thanks to everyone for the responses.

I think the one thing that may be getting overlooked is the fact that my band is an Australian metal band, and other than ACDC I don't think there has ever been a big Aussie metal band with worldwide success. Some may have a name amongst under ground metal fans, but these bands don't make any real money. I know many of these bands personally.

I'm happy to not earn a cent, I know that going in, I just want to live this silly dream of mine and be a rock star on tour, see Europe from a tour bus, meet some of my heros.

Ongoing fees of $500 just isn't suitable when the reality is virtually no band in Australian metal history has earnt real money. These bands are all doing it for the love, it's just how it is where I come from.

Most metal success stories are bands who work their way up over the years, we aren't a trendy hardcore band that gets the girls, we are a prog/metal band that wins the respect of every muso in the room when we play.

I understand where you are all coming from. But with the donut shop bit, a donut shop would definitely turn more profit than any Aussie metal band except ACDC. I'd love to have some successful Aussie bands pointed out to me, are there any? in over 30 years of metal is there a good example?

I know I sound negative, but I'm pretty sure that is truth. I suspect many other countries would have similar situations redarding less mainstream genres.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Whigham View Post
Would it be worth it to pay $1500 for the contract review if you (a) got amazing advice, (b) saved $25000 in fees/royalties because you went with a pro, and then (c) were introduced to a venue booking agent who handles South America and wants you guys to tour at a massive pay scale? That's the upside to investing in yourself.

I'd pay $1,500 if it saved me no money and just got me living my dream. It's not about making money, it's just about not paying for the chance to live your dream. I don't expect a lawyer to work for free, I just don't understand how these fees are calculated, Australia couldn't possibly have that much demand for high end music lawyers.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Let me relate a common story, at least from my LA-years viewpoint:

Struggling band playing music they like move to LA. 2 members are replaced with more 'appropriate' personnel.

The new members slowly 'work on' the original members (the ones with the creative ideas) and within ten months, everyone is mysteriously ten pounds thinner with better hair and better clothes.

The singer eventually figures out studio microphone technique and their demos start to get good.

Money happens.

Backstage, everyone bitches about showbusiness.

Then someone flies by with a walkie talkie and says 'on in five' and everyone's eyes turn animalistic and they Put On A Show and they get paid.



Quoting Jerry Maguire: It's not showfriends, it's showbusiness.


That said, I've gotten amazing mileage from favors.

But people probably thought I was worth it.




There's a certain amount of fake-it-to-make-it going on, and that is blended with some mysterious Force Of Talent


Go figure.


My two cents. And the two cents of a lot of other people.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #20
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ironbelly's Avatar
 

while not a metal band, jet has done pretty well ...






*
Old 23rd December 2010
  #21
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cinealta's Avatar
 

I'm pretty sure Wolfmother would have had a good attorney do their deals with Interscope and Island.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #22
Maybe not many Oz bands made it big cuz they skimped on the attorney?? tutt

Jus playin.. kinda...
Old 23rd December 2010
  #23
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captainate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Electric Sugar View Post
Better call Saul!
Ahahahahahaha

Five stars thumbsup
Old 23rd December 2010
  #24
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Guest
How the hell have you spent $50000 AUD? On recording, Several of my bands did it for around $7500 we went into a studio having practiced the songs for months and spent a week recording it I did the vox in 2 days and it cost us £320 a day or around $500 for recording and the rest was mixing and mastering from a guy with 20 years experience.. (I thought that was expensive lool)

Even bands I listen to like Scar Symmetry, Solution .45 and many others that are massive international metal bands don't spend a quarter of that.

In flames and soilwork now spend that sort of money and I can't really tell the difference from when they used to to spend less than 10k???

Did you buy your own recording studio? Even at that you must have some good equipment..
Old 23rd December 2010
  #25
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Scott Whigham's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Ark View Post
I'd pay $1,500 if it saved me no money and just got me living my dream. It's not about making money, it's just about not paying for the chance to live your dream. I don't expect a lawyer to work for free, I just don't understand how these fees are calculated, Australia couldn't possibly have that much demand for high end music lawyers.
I wish you well. You've received a lot of good advice on this thread. Best of luck!
Old 23rd December 2010
  #26
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Electric Sugar's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by captainate View Post
Ahahahahahaha

Five stars thumbsup
I hoped someone would get it.

Sorry for the small thread hijack, please continue.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #27
Lives for gear
Hmmm aussie bands...Jet did pretty well, The Presets are getting a lot of attention and touring big festivals.

little river band, midnight oil, inxs, crowded house, frente, divynls who did i touch myself i think were, the vines, wolfmother,


Seems a lot of people in the states mistake some aussie bands as being from england most of the time. Right now seems like 70's indie rock and the whole electro hipster band with drums is the cool ticket. Just say you are from the uk. I was born in the US but all my family on my dads side is from Sydney so I can tell...only thing i really hate is the crappy import wine we get here in the states from your parts hehe.

It's hard enough here in the US to get a deal even for great bands so I could only imagine those odds. Being that far you got to try! There is a lot of metal where I live outside of NOLA. A lot of that southern metal roots stuff. pantera,down, coc the most popular from here...but most of those big bands are all the same 6 or so people.

That's about all I can think of besides ac/dc.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cinealta View Post
I'm pretty sure Wolfmother would have had a good attorney do their deals with Interscope and Island.
There were TEAMS of Attorneys on that deal heh . Wolfmother are signed direct to Modular Records and are managed by John Watson, wait for it .. a shrewd music business lawyer. Both companies negotiatated a worldwide deal with Universal. I believe Universal releases Wolfmother product top down through the various subsidiaries in different territories. There is a very formidable team of people behind the band. Watson's company Eleven, also manages Silverchair and Missy Higgins. Fwiw I used to work for Modular.

Cheers RAy
Old 23rd December 2010
  #29
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Knox's Avatar
 

You are looking at this wrong . . . you will kick yerself in the ass IF your band does well and you did not have a good attorney look after you in the beginning. THAT is what you are not seeing. I was with the management company that broke AC DC in the states. It happens! And you could be the next . . . I would want a good contract in place IF it does. Don't shoot yerself in the bum before you even get started. You may say NOW you don't care if you make money . . . but what if the band hits big and you are on the road touring for a year and a half . . . and you signed a bad contract, not making any money . . . . you are watching some fat cat behind a desk getting rich

Quote:
Originally Posted by Star Ark View Post
A big thanks to everyone for the responses.

I think the one thing that may be getting overlooked is the fact that my band is an Australian metal band, and other than ACDC I don't think there has ever been a big Aussie metal band with worldwide success. Some may have a name amongst under ground metal fans, but these bands don't make any real money. I know many of these bands personally.

I'm happy to not earn a cent, I know that going in, I just want to live this silly dream of mine and be a rock star on tour, see Europe from a tour bus, meet some of my heros.

Ongoing fees of $500 just isn't suitable when the reality is virtually no band in Australian metal history has earnt real money. These bands are all doing it for the love, it's just how it is where I come from.

Most metal success stories are bands who work their way up over the years, we aren't a trendy hardcore band that gets the girls, we are a prog/metal band that wins the respect of every muso in the room when we play.

I understand where you are all coming from. But with the donut shop bit, a donut shop would definitely turn more profit than any Aussie metal band except ACDC. I'd love to have some successful Aussie bands pointed out to me, are there any? in over 30 years of metal is there a good example?

I know I sound negative, but I'm pretty sure that is truth. I suspect many other countries would have similar situations redarding less mainstream genres.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #30
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doncaparker's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knox View Post
You may saw NOW you don't care if you make money . . . but what if the band hits big and you are on the road touring for a year and a half . . . and because you signed a bad contract, not making any money, while you watch some fat cat behind a desk getting rich?
Knox, you just wrote the abridged version of the history of rock and roll.

To the OP: There are too many stories like the one Knox just described. Go get a good lawyer.
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