This week we move onto Music Law and get the opinion from not one but TWO lawyers specializing in this area – Elliot Chalmers of IMLA (Independent Music Law Advice) and Martine Alan.
Elliot Chalmers is the Owner of Independent Music Law Advice which was formed in 2003. The company offers artists a clear and simple analysis of their contracts. IMLA represents Labels, Management, Publishers and Artists working on a wide range of projects. They draft all types of contract and agreements as well as assisting with copyright registrations, infringements and settlements.
Musicvein: How can artists protect their music especially with the internet and illegal downloads?
IMLA: There are various ways but first thing is to make sure any tracks shared is properly monitored with the correct privacy settings. Furthermore all tracks can be registered with the PRS and if the artist is a co-writer, they should have a Co-Writer’s Agreement drafted.
Musicvein: Artists often spend months crafting a song, then find someone has made a remix of it 5 minutes later. What can artists do especially if they do not like the new interpretation?
IMLA: In general if someone is remixing an artists track then that is a good thing and means their work is good. However the artist should be contacted by the remixer before it is made available or even recorded. Again a simple Remix Contract should be in place which will protect the Artists’ right and give them approval over usage. If a remix is released without the Artist’s permission then it could constitute a copyright infringement.
Musicvein: Should all artists instruct a lawyer before signing any contract to do with their music, or is it safe enough to just read the details and sign?
IMLA: With over 10 years experience I can honestly say that an Artist should NEVER sign a contract without having it looked at. I have never analysed a contract without making suggested changes as each case is always different. I have helped many artists out who have not had contracts looked at and got into trouble as a result.
Musicvein: What key things should artists be aware of with contracts?
IMLA: Basic things such as Term Length and Termination provisions but most important are the obligations set out for both parties. Gone are the days where an artist should accept an agreement without specific performance related obligations set in place.
Musicvein: Is seeking legal advice a costly exercise?
IMLA: It certainly can be! The key is to not agree an hourly rate as that can lead to huge bills. Since I formed my company – Independent Music Law Advice – I have always charged a fixed fee for all types of work.