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The proliferation of technologies and platforms that are used to produce and distribute music, combined with the complexity of the copyright laws relating to music, creates many legal challenges for performing artists, record companies, digital services, and others who are involved in creating or using music. Attorneys who practice in the music area represent many different industry participants in negotiating and drafting agreements, advising on copyright and rights clearance issues, and resolving disputes. These participants may be involved in the production of music (e.g., record companies, music publishers, performing artists, and songwriters), the use of music (e.g., advertisers, motion picture and television producers, online music services, media outlets, and device manufacturers), or some combination of those activities.

The types of music deals that music lawyers frequently address include:
  • Artist recording contracts
  • License agreements for the use of music in film, television, radio, advertising, video games, live theater, and other productions
  • Agreements relating to the use of music in “cloud”-based storage and playback services, Internet radio services, and other digital services
  • Sponsorship and endorsement agreements with performing artists
  • Agreements between artists and managers, agents, and other representatives
  • Acquisition and disposition of music catalogs, including in connection with corporate transactions in the entertainment industry
Music attorneys also assist companies that use music in determining what licenses are required for a particular activity and from whom those licenses should be obtained. This includes analyzing the application of existing laws and agreements to new distribution methods and negotiations with performing rights organizations and other rightsholders. Attorneys in the music practice area also advise clients on legal issues relating to the use of social media and other new technologies.

Robert J. Driscoll

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Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

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