Music and entertainment lawyers primarily provide counsel, advice on legal issues and they represent individuals and businesses all of whom are related one way or the other to the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry in itself is very wide and has various subfields like film, music, unions, digital and social media, television, and theatre. Each of these industries have lawyers whose specialty is to handle legal matters arising from them like creative rights lawyers, intellectual property lawyers, and copyright and trademark lawyers. There are also specialties in law which focus on liquor and hospitality related matters.
The field of entertainment law in itself have lawyers whose primary focus is on the transactional aspect or the litigation aspect of entertainment law. Majorly, you’d find lawyers choosing one of these fields as their main focus, or they could either specialize in subfields by choosing the business side of music or film. Other lawyers consider themselves generalists by providing a wide array of skills that span numerous sub industries.
To be a music and entertainment lawyer, one has to be quite knowledgeable in a range of legal fields. A lawyer has to fully grasp all the details with regards to the field he/she is working on, this is because the music and entertainment industry has countless opportunities and problems that could arise from them.
Let’s take an example of lawyers that represents a musician or a film star, it is expected of the lawyers to know the intricate details of whatever contract that has been offered to their client. They are expected to be well versed in intellectual property law, basics of employment, labor law, publicity, rights of privacy and sometimes snippets of corporate law just to mention a few. Almost on a daily basis, music and entertainment lawyers are called on to solve issues pertaining to their clients businesses.
There is a difference between transactional and litigation lawyers. For transactional lawyers, one of their main duties is to ensure that all parties involved in a deal honor their commitments, they also draft and negotiate deals and agreements. Most of the time all these are done in their office with a retinue of attorneys helping out. Litigators on the other hand spend most of their time in court either by avoiding lawsuits for their clients by navigating the legal waters of the industry or defending their clients should a lawsuit occur.
Most of the time, music and entertainment lawyers are usually called upon for negotiations with unions, it could be with the crew or anyone else (theatre, television or movie set crews), agreement and contracts, renting a space for performing arts or equipment’s, copyright protection, regulatory and licensing issues etc. There's a completely different field for hospitality lawyers and liquor licence law, these areas of practice generally overlap with many hospitality venues also having a liquor licence or attempting to acquire one.
From afar, representing famous or not so famous people in the music and entertainment industry would seem like a fun thing to do, but in real reality, it is a physically and emotionally tasking venture that involves a huge sum of money and clients with large egos which the lawyers have to manage. The profession is quite rewarding financially and they derive joy from being able to makes deals that would help their client become successful in the industry.