Forming or joining a band can be a really exciting and positive time, especially if you and your band write original songs and/or record your music. The purpose of this blog is to briefly discuss some of the business aspects of joining a band and the need to discuss the business before things get going, Even during all of the excitement, take a moment and discuss ownership of the music and the recordings. Getting it clear from the outset will protect you and your band members from turmoil at a later date because there was no agreement in place.
Essentially, you and the band are a partnership and need to create a partnership agreement. Creating a partnership agreement definitely isn’t the most glamorous part of the venture, but it will allow your band to make copyright and financial decisions now to prevent a later fight or even worse, a lawsuit. Most importantly, these decisions will now be in writing.
When writing and recording with other songwriters or band members, copyright ownership can get tricky. Remember, a copyright comes into existence as soon as the song is fixed in a tangible medium of expression i.e. - once it is recorded or committed to paper. With multiple musicians involved, you can imagine how there could be disagreement over who wrote what. The way to avoid disagreement is to write it down, create an agreement regarding the joint ownership of the songs and the recordings. This will allow everyone involved to have a say in the ownership of the songs and recording and allow royalties to be split accordingly. The only downside, to having an agreement, is not having an agreement. It will much harder to come to an agreement later if you and your band members have a falling out.
Have the talk
Hopefully, no disagreements happen and your band is perfectly happy forever, but just in case, it is important to sit down as a group and make some decisions.
All of these are important questions to talk about and come to a consensus, as a band. Of course, if you should have any questions about the process or creation of an agreement, do not hesitate to call or email me at (512) 327-3399 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“According to a new Caring.com survey, only 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust. For those with children under the age of 18, the figure is even lower, with just 36 percent having an end-of-life plan in place.” So, if you have a will in place – you’re way ahead of the game. However, the next question is, how long since you last reviewed your will?
As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. So, it would be safe to say that things in your life have changed since the last time you reviewed your will. Here are three events that would probably warrant such a review:
Since you last looked at your will, have you had kids or have your kids had kids? If so, definitely a reason to check your beneficiaries.
Hopefully, since you wrote your will your career has continued to grow and so has your salary. Maybe you bought a home or even a second home. As your assets continue to grow, your will needs to reflect the current status of your estate. And, if you’re really doing well, maybe a review for tax reasons.
Have you moved to a different state since you wrote your will? If so, your new state might have different laws regarding the execution of your will. If you fall into this category, probably be a good idea to check with the lawyer who wrote your will and see what they would suggest.
Like all important things in your life, your will needs to be regularly maintained. I suggest to my clients that they review their will at least once every five years unless they experience a major life event. Your will is important, but it is even more important to have a will that reflects your current wishes. It is always my pleasure to review your will with you. This is always at no cost. Or, if I can help you write your first will or update your current will, I would be glad to help with that, as well. Please email or contact me at: email@example.com or (512) 327-3399. I look forward to hearing from you.
With over six billion streams, Drake was the most streamed artist of 2017. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that his latest album “Scorpion” is breaking all the streaming records that he had previously set. Spotify announced that streams of the album were hitting around 10 million an hour. Within 24 hours of its release, the album had reportedly been streamed over 132 million times! For artists like Drake, who also write their material, streaming services can make them millions a year, but for other artists that aren’t hitting record-breaking numbers, online streaming isn’t really providing them with the money they need to even survive.
The standard per song stream rate is $0.005. That is HALF of a penny! To put it in perspective, Drake has made at least $650,000 in streaming revenue from his new album which really seems low considering the number of streams (130 million X .005 = 650,000). Most Artists/songwriters, who have songs with a normal to even large number of streams, are also not making as much money, as one would think. For example, an Artist/songwriter with 500,000 streams, which seems substantial, would only earn $2,500! (500K X .005 = 650,000) That’s ridiculous. So, who is making the money? It’s certainly not the Artists/songwriters.
As of January 2018, Spotify had around 70 million subscribers. Each subscriber pays about $10 a month. That’s approximately $700 million a year gross income from subscribers alone. This number does not take into account the money Spotify receives from other sources of income such as advertisements. The big question is, what should these streaming services be paying the artist that is fair to both the artist and the company while keeping the price of subscriptions reasonable for the consumer? There is a new law going through Congress, the Music Modernization Act, whose goal is to create laws that will statutorily mandate the amount that songwriters should receive for their work/streams. As you can imagine, there is great excitement about the passage of this law.
Spotify seems to be aware of the need, as well. In an interview with Billboard, Spotify’s global head of creator services said that the company spent the first ten years mainly focused on customer experience, but now they are going to focus on the artists experience helping them to build a lucrative economic bridge to the fans. Let’s hope that’s true! Unfortunately, Spotify is a corporation, its duty is to make shareholders’ money. That said, Songwriters need to be paid a fair wage for the use of their work. $.005 per stream is not a fair wage!
Rothman's Roadmap reports that: "Last week Khaled M. Khaled, known popularly as DJ Khaled, and the company ATK Entertainment filed a lawsuit objecting to the alleged uses of his son’s name by a clothing company. The complaint (as resubmitted yesterday) alleges violations of trademark law, right of publicity and privacy laws (under N.Y. Civil Rights Law §§50-51), and state and federal unfair competition laws.
DJ Khaled’s son, Asahd Tuck Khaled, is approximately 18 months old. He was born in October of 2016. At approximately three months of age, Asahd was given his own Twitter handle and has more than 47,000 followers. Apparently this helped catapult him to "best baby"-of-2017 status, as chosen by Cosmopolitan magazine. Khaled accuses the defendants of being “trademark pirates” trying to profit off Khaled’s and his son’s fame.
*This article is written and owned by Rothman's Roadmap. For the full article please visit this link.
Forbes reports that: "In February, writer and director Christian Charles sued Jerry Seinfeld, alleging that the comedian stole his idea for “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” He filed his complaint pro se, which means he represented himself, but now Brian D. Siff, an attorney with BigLaw firm Duane Morris, has taken over — and Seinfeld could be on the hook for serious beans over his hit show, which Netflix recently bought as part of a $100 million deal.
Lawsuits involving allegedly stolen ideas are not uncommon in Hollywood, often involving a breach of implied contract claim, but on the face of the amended complaint recently filed by Siff in federal court, Charles’ case for several claims including copyright infringement, appears especially strong in light of his long-term working relationship with Seinfeld.
In cases such as these, a plaintiff must show that the defendant had access to the work in question and that the allegedly infringing work was substantially similar to protected elements in the copyrighted work.
Here, Charles has gone to great lengths to demonstrate Seinfeld's access to his work. In addition to the established, ongoing relationship between Charles and Seinfeld, the sheer amount of detail included in the complaint regarding dates, places and the show's evolution suggests Charles has been keeping receipts, perhaps even literally, for years.
All of that plus an undeniable similarity between his concept and the current "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" could add up to a latte legal problems for Seinfeld — and possibly a hefty settlement to boot."
*This article is written and owned by Forbes, please visit this link to see the original article.
CBS News reports that: "Hasbro has trademarked the scent of Play-Doh. The toy company on Friday announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has recognized Play-Doh's distinctive smell with a registered trademark, something rarely issued for a scent.
The Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based toymaker describes it as a "sweet, slightly musky, vanilla fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, combined with the smell of a salted, wheat-based dough."
The Play-Doh brand has been around since 1956 and was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 1998. Hasbro applied for the scent trademark last year.
The company says in a press release that the smell "has always been synonymous with childhood and fun" and explains that the trademark allows it to protect "an invaluable point of connection between the brand and fans."
There are already some Play-Doh-scented products available online, including cologne and soy candles."
*This content was written and is owned by CBS News. Click here to view the source.
Recently, there was an article in the Austin American Statesmen, discussing a unique issue that has become a part of the digital lifestyle. What happens to a person’s online presence after they die? How does a family settle the digital estate of a person? The article used the recent death of an author to show the dilemma – this bestselling author, a woman in her mid 30’s, unexpectedly died and “left behind a trove of literary work.” Unfortunately, this work was stored in an internet cloud, secured by password and no one knew the password except for Google. Naturally, the father wanted to know what his daughter had left and, after “costly legal maneuvers this summer stretching from Australia to Silicon Valley”, he finally got his answers.
Unfortunately, as you can imagine, this quandary is becoming more commonplace. As explained in the article, “A surge of families with similar questions is driving a behind-the-scenes political battle between tech companies and estate/probate lawyers over who gets the keys to someone’s digital afterlife.” California’s lawmakers’ answer to this issue is to introduce legislation which essentially denies families access to emails (digital accounts) unless there is a court order. Not hard to see why this legislation is backed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Google etc. According to the American Statesmen, the major IP companies favor this type of legislation because it would “lessen the bureaucratic hassle of complying with millions of posthumous requests.” Currently, according to the Statesmen, “Yahoo destroys everything at death and reveals nothing.” “Facebook and Google, however, have online tools that allow users to choose their digital heirs and how much (of their digital information) they want preserved or deleted upon death.” But, how many people think of “digital heirs” while they are searching Facebook or doing a “Google” search or even know this option exists.
So, the obvious point here is to make a decision about these digital accounts now! Then, of course, let someone know your wishes and provide them with a way to access your digital accounts. In fact, I encourage my clients to make a list of all digital accounts, with user name and password, and store that list with their estate planning documents. I encourage you to do the same.
One of the most confusing areas of the law is copyright. There are misconceptions about ownership, creation, registration and protection. In that I teach a music business class that discusses this subject extensively, I thought I would write a series of blogs to hopefully shed some light on the subject.
The first question - How do you know when you have a copyright in your work? The second question - Do you have to register your work/creation with the copyright office to establish a claim of copyright?
To answer the first question: copyright attaches the moment the creation or work is manifest into a tangible format that can be communicated to others. In legal terms, copyright protects original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Therefore, registration with the Federal Copyright Office is not required to establish a copyright. One just needs commit the work to a tangible medium, such as, paper, tape/digital audio, canvas, computer file etc.
There are, however, definite advantages to registering your work:
I hope this brief explanation provides you with a better understanding of copyright. Of course, if you have any questions regarding copyright, or need help in registering your creative work, don't hesitate to give our office a call.
Stephen Owen Summer has been practicing law in Austin and surrounding areas for over 15 years. Stephen took an nontraditional route to becoming a lawyer, first carving out a career as a highly regarded jazz musician before returning to school. This unique and diverse background allows Stephen to approach law with a creative and fresh perspective.
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