In the new issue of Music Week, we speak to some of the UK’s top music law firms to find out how their role is changing and how they can help artists and businesses get ahead. In the special legal report, experts including Russells Solicitors – winners of Law Firm Of The Year at the Music Week Awards 2017 – plus Marks & Clerk Solicitors LLP and New Media Law dissect how the music business’ convergence with the digital domain, sponsorship and advertising has presented legal professionals with a number of tough challenges to adapt to.
One pressing topic that two specialists agreed upon was the importance of seeking legal counsel, especially early on in an artist’s career. It was a point stressed in particular by Gregor Pryor, co-chair of Reed Smith’s Entertainment and Media Group. Reed Smith has been active in entertainment and music for almost 100 years. Today the company advises clients ranging from new artists to some of the biggest acts in the world, providing services including traditional advice and counselling on management agreements, recording and publishing agreements, touring and merchandise, as well as brand endorsements and partnerships, social media, promotion and strategic investments.
“Doing things on your own, or using a friend with a passing familiarity of the law may seem like the most cost-effective thing to do early on,” Pryor told Music Week. “However, the cost of making bad agreements in the early stages of your career can be significant later down the line.”
Paul Lennon, a partner at Statham Gill Davies Solicitors, also told Music Week that the best advice he can give artists and business owners is to engage a music lawyer at an early stage. Lennon represents people across a range of professions and at different levels in their music industry careers, including artists, producers, mixers, managers, record companies and publishers.
“[Hire a lawyer] as soon as you feel that your music is connecting in some way and you are getting a reaction,” Lennon told Music Week. “For a music company, it is perhaps more obvious that they would require legal advice at an early stage as with any other start-up. A&R executives tend to engage early with music lawyers as they are part of the circle of information traders with new artists and music, so they tend to receive advice early on in any event.”